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Cuisine Caraïbe Delite: Return of the jerk

Return of the jerk

Caraïbe Delite: Splash of sunlight on Parc Avenue

Cuisine Caraïbe Delite warmly welcomes the return of a Montreal family

My ears always perk up for jerk. I’m a hot sauce hussy and will wantonly ingest all kinds, all cultures of spiciness, so when I heard a new Caribbean joint opened up, I developed a jones for jerk chicken.

Caraïbe Delite’s small space is clean, white and spare, save for a few tourism-type posters of Guyana. The high ceilings give the resto the feeling of a lot of light for such a wee spot shoehorned among residential apartments beside an adult video club on heavily trafficked Parc Avenue.

The owners, husband and wife, were the original team behind the curry house on St-Viateur, but they left to go to Ontario four years ago. Good thing their kid got accepted into Concordia, so they could return last summer. Dad’s happy to be back in Montreal. "One: it’s cheap. Two: it’s home," he told me during pre-ordering chitchat.

While waiting for my posse of two, I ordered mulligatawny soup with goat meat. The owner described the soup as spicier than their dhal, but with more veg.

Now goat, when old and cooked badly, can taste like a lick of a fuzzy sweaty armpit (uh, and not in a good way). Thankfully, here it was pleasantly strong, along the same meat flavour spectrum as lamb, a bit chewy. The soup was a lentil-filled purée, spicy, with greens.

Sis arrived, but my mate was late. We ordered anyway, picking from among a potato ball appetizer, Carib curries, Guyanese fried rice and chow mein. Turns out the fresh wheat and spice noodles are made by a Guyanese in Toronto. "They’re so good you could eat them on their own," the owner said. Although we drank water, we were tempted by the homemade punches: one of peanut, another of fruit. And rum, too!

My darkly sauced jerk chicken, two drumsticks and a thigh, arrived on a rice-kidney bean mix, with a little green salad and a killer dressing. I was searching for the words for the tender chicken’s sweet smokiness, unlike the greener, peppery jerk I was used to. "How would you describe it?" I asked my sib. "Amazing," she said. True, yet not exactly descriptive. She was too busy snarfing down a chickpea, potato and pumpkin roti to worry about words. And certainly the leguminous goop in the lentil flatbread pocket would keep anyone occupied.

For the late one we ordered the gilbaka curry, a tropical fish with a mild taste like snapper, but firmer fleshed and cut like a swordfish steak. It came with plain rice, plantain, a dollop of pumpkin. Alas, he cacked out, but at least we got to try the tasty dish and wrap up the leftovers.

I fully intended to save my last drumstick to take home to my jerk-deprived sweetie. Ooh, but I wanted just one more nibble of the tender meat. He won’t miss it, I thought. Within moments it was gone. My sister accused me of loving chicken more than I loved my husband. No fair. He wasn’t there for a direct comparison after all. (Don’t worry, I got another order for him. You can have your bird and your spouse too.)

Just about everything at Caraïbe Delite is homemade, from the sour fruity hot sauce to the creamy lemony salad dressing. It’s pretty clear from the great food and good prices (magic words: tax included) that Ontario’s loss is our gain.

Cuisine Caraïbe Delite
4816 Parc Ave; 274-4509
Dinner for two: $16-$30; lunch specials $3.50-$6.50, tax included

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