Southern American inspired diner food…with lots of smoky flavours
Fans of gravitationally challenged burger constructions, deep fried pickles and getting drunk off of milkshakes (or craft beer).
Fans of the filling, unhealthy and value for money kind of meal that makes you go ‘ooooooooooooh yeah’ in a deep Baritone voice, as you slap yourself on the belly and nod approvingly at your hard practiced digestive abilities.
Fans of a scaled down, further North, somewhat lower key and cheaper version of the Meatliquor, The Diner or The Big Easy experience
People who like things that are smoked, or slow cooked. Or both, at the same time.
In A Word
And here’s The Rub (had to say it)
We accidentally show up 90 minutes early to a place that looks like it is gearing up for the evening. The weather is cloudy, meteorological bollocks, but the sun refuses to set.
Stroud Green is perhaps not an area that comes to mind when you think of restaurants. But Rub isn’t a restaurant, it’s a diner (which is also a restaurant but not in the traditional sense I suppose). Also, what the hell do I know about Stroud Green anyway? Not much.
Rub’s decor and atmosphere feels kinda low tech, informal and a bit unfinished. Both Joe (my +1) & I feel that Rub’s interior doesn’t set/sell the atmosphere – which is a shame, because with food like this you could really give your interior design of truly a ridiculous, Louisianan/Mississippian themed remit – lobster pots, rusted metallic objects, discarded tyres, boxing posters, fragments of lizards…hell, I dunno.
That said, there’s not an American in sight here so maybe my suggestions are totally wrong (they often are)
At some point, Ellie (who I assume is the manager) comes over and explains a little about Rub. She is also not American. They also don’t open on Mondays simply because she needs a day off. I admire both her approach and her honesty.
Drinks selection? Wines are limited – a red, white and rose. House only, and all from Borough Wines – the red I had wasn’t bad at all. The beer selection is somewhat more extensive – lots of craft beers, some you have heard of, some you haven’t.
There’s also a small selection of cocktails around £5, which is pretty reasonable for London, you could be paying close to double of that in other, more central spots.
And it’s not just booze, in the diner style there’s milkshakes aplenty – each of them coming with the option to add a shot of liquor, just in case you didn’t feel like you were indulging quite heavily enough or you almost forgot to drink said booze. Wednesday is the new Saturday.
The playlist is mainly indie rock and post punk, though at some point there was the obligatory ‘Can’t Stop’ by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Later on we learn that they’re hosting their first live music night – a 40s themed vocal trio by the name of Hotsie Totsies. We see them setting up, but alas, since we’ve shown up so early, we leave before we hear what they’re all about
At some point, a little girl and her Mum come in. They seem very familiar with the staff, the little girl showing the manager her latest toy and then doing little girl stuff like being noisy and happy.
Despite the semi-Satanic (and definitely cool) logo, I deduce that this place is pretty child friendly. Said girl later drinks one of the milkshakes, though we assume without the optional bourbon hit.
Food here comes under no threat of pretension, Michelin starred angling, tiny, tiny courses that leave you hungrier than you started, or people spending more time on presentation than cooking.
‘Hearty’ is a word to describe it – though too much of it, too often might not be in your heart’s best interest.
It’s slow cooked and smoked (they have their own smoker). It’s somewhat inspired by American diner style food, but they’re not following the formula too closely.
You have to eat this with a knife, it’s very design defies gravity, and quite noticeable bits of food have already escaped the burger before I start to trying to eat it…carefully .
I think half a sausage falls out at some point, along with a rasher of bacon and some pulled pork fragments (you later find these ‘hiding’ all over the plate – and become deeply engrossed in an exciting game I like to call ‘don’t leave any pulled pork behind otherwise bad things will happen’). The taste is predominantly smoky, as I think asides from a lot of the meat being smoked, there’s also some kind of smoky sauce on top of it all.
do you even hetrocyclic amines.
Veggie Chili Burger
It’s topped with sour cream, instead of mayo – which impresses me very much.
Sweet Potato Fries:
Joe, not normally a ‘big eater’, inhales most of these, moving the plate in my direction to ward off such temptations. I absorb the rest, almost instantaneously, like a white blood cell swallowing an Escherichia coli microbe…
Not bad by any means, but just basically some leaves and tomato in a dressing I cannot identify. Suggestion would be to make it bigger, more colourful, and add some more kinds of vegetables to it.
Deep Fried Pickles:
We end up extracting the pickles from the inside and leaving most of the batter intact. That said, this is the first time that I ever had a deep fried pickle. I wouldn’t do it again.
Pickle & Sauerkraut:
At least you can eat sauerkraut and tell yourself that you’re doing good stuff for your digestive health. And the better your digestive health the more desserts you can get away with…
For dessert, they bring you the same menu and you realise that there’s two desserts on there and that yes, you can drink a milkshake again and call it ‘dessert’ (we choose not to do this).
The portion looked intense and based on the facial expressions and noises he was making, we can infer that this was at least a good Sundae. It was also “the first strawberry sauce I’ve had with real strawberries in it!”. We’ve got to get Joe to write one of these…
Unlike other cheesecakes I’ve had, it was harder in texture and colder too, making it feel firmer and more chewy, I suppose. I like this. There are bits of hardened dark chocolate which seem to have frozen into the cake. These are chewy and tart and contrast strongly with the soft, creaminess of the cake.
Rub is promising. I’d like to see how it looks when they’ve done a little more refurbishments and if the menu evolves/grows over time (as it definitely feels like it’s lacking in certain areas). At current, it’s lack of atmosphere sells it short, but in terms of the varieties of food you’d usually get in Stroud Green, I think it stands out.
If I were to return, I’d try their beef brisket and the ribs (at the same time yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh)
P: 020 7281 0199
A: 121 Stroud Green Road London, United Kingdom