A void was left after Island Foods was forced to leave the neighbourhood about a year ago (?), and it was back to mundane takeout.
However, a couple of weeks ago, walking along Yonge, just south of Erskine, I noticed that the Chopstix awning was covered by a new sign -- Caribbean Bistro. I scurried over and indeed, a new island cuisine establishment had moved in.
Since it's fairly new, its advertised hours haven't quite taken hold (Mon- Fri 11am-10pm; Sat 4-10 pm and Sun 4-10 pm). Signs denote that they are closed on Sun in September and once I tried to go later in the evening on a week night but alas, it was already closed though I did spy someone in the kitchen.
Yesterday, late Sat morning, I wandered by hoping it was open, since I was famished and I didn't want to do Yummie's again. And to my surprise and delight, it was.
I went in and there was one table occupied by a woman with three young girls. As I perused the whiteboard that listed bistro offerings, a pleasant black woman, (the owner?) doing double duty as server and cook, greeted me.
In addition to the rotis (beef, chicken, shrimp, channa, veggie) and rice dishes (oxtail, jerk chicken), she mentioned a few items that weren't there, such as chicken and red beans. I opted for the chicken roti and when I asked for hot sauce, she beamed and claimed she has the best hot sauce.
While I waited for my order, an order of Pad Thai was brought over to the seated patrons with a promise that the spring rolls were also coming. I was a bit bemused by this but there was indeed an asian cook in the kitchen as well, and perhaps there was some crossover deal from the previous establishment to have some asian fare as well.
When the woman came back with my order, I noticed a pile of puffed, deep fried items on a serving plate on the counter. The woman told me it was Fried Bake, but not being familiar with that, I asked her what it was. She tried to explain it to me but seeing my puzzled expression, she grabbed one of them, tore off a piece and said, "Try it, try it!" It turned out to a savoury dough that had been deep fried, and thus was somewhat like a bready doughnut that is supposedly used to sop up stews and curries.
In the end, I also ordered a Doubles and told her to wrap up the other piece of Fried Bake as well. The total price was about $14, which is rather pricey - advertised prices: boneless Chicken Roti ($8.95), Doubles ($2.95), Fried Bake ($2.00) -- she actually charged me slightly less since my total also included tax. As I grabbed a takeout menu, she mentioned that she was still trying to sort out the prices (subject to change), and some of the items on the menu were not yet available -- like Stewed Fish and Curried Duck. Some notable items on the take out menu: Potato Pie, Sahiena, Baiganee, Phulourie (all deep fried items); Callaloo, Fried Plaintain, and homemade Cassava Pone.
Now the taste test -- The Doubles was disappointing, since the two fried flat breads were just mooshed with the channa. I suspect that she fried them up as I was waiting and they were too hot when she wrapped them up. The roti was plump and juicy, with succulent pieces of dark and white meat jumbled together with the potatoes in the nicely seasoned curry. She was right though -- the green pepper hot sauce was really good.
I'm happy Caribbean Bistro is in the hood because in a pinch, it satisfies an urge for island fare, without making a trek to some other area. I may not grab a roti or doubles as often as I did at Island Foods, since it's a bit more expensive, but hopefully the prices will balance out, the quality stabilizes and stays high.
2439 Yonge (south of Erskine)
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