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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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  • by Heath Abram - May 19, 2005, 4:00 pm

    Now you’re talking! Good food and inexpensive too, what a great combination! I have to admit, there are a few dishes that I would probably pass on, but all in all it sounds delicious. I go out for lunch a lot and those prices for their specials are incredible. I just wonder what food you get and how much you get. I will try Cuisine Caraibe Delite next week.

  • by Rita Reale - May 20, 2005, 4:07 pm

    I was reading Maeve review of Cuisine Caraibe Delite on the subway right after work and it got
    me so hungry that I wanted to straight to the restaurant instead of home. But alas, I went home
    and make supper for my family. But next time, I’ll have to try out Cuisine Caraibe Delite, it made
    my mouth water. The jerk chicken, on a rice-kidney bean mix, with a little green salad and a killer
    dressing is exactly what I want to try. And to boot, the prices are reasonable. Bon Appetit.

  • by Joyce Stemkowsky - May 21, 2005, 9:47 am

    Sounds really good. The article had my mouth watering for the sweet smokey taste of jerk chicken. Nice to see a vegetarian roti as well. I would have like to know individual prices of meals, ie: jerk chicken, but I will find out when I go, as the total price for dinner was exceptionally low. Thanks for the review.

  • by Basil James - May 21, 2005, 8:23 pm

    Well, the description of this week’s restaurant got my attention. I’m glad the jerk chicken tasted more sweet than peppery and it sounds like a great main dish with the rice-kidney bean mix and salad. I bet that would go great with the homemade fruit punch that was mentioned. And the meals are in an affordable price range and the best part is that taxes are included…I can almost feel that warm Carribean breeze in a cooler than normal May in Montreal.

  • by Alexander Yu - May 22, 2005, 1:05 am

    Hooray! Another natioanlity joins Montreals multi-cultural food scene. And with a low price at “tax included”, those wonderful magical words would make the delicious food sound better. There’s enough Chinese, Indian, Arabic food places out there as is and any new taste is certainly appreciated. After all every culture loves eating and will bring their best if they open up a restaurant.
    This is definately a place I want to try out just to say, “I’ve eaten carribbean”. Or at the very least something VERY close to it, as it could be a North American version, but hey you gotta start somewhere.

  • by Selena Lobo - May 22, 2005, 4:53 pm

    Caribbean food is so good especially when I get to eat it from my mother-in-law. But when I can’t get her home cooking, I like to try out some Caribbean places to make me feel at home. This restaurant sounds like one of them.
    This restaurant sounds like a change from the norm especially with pumpkin in the roti but it does sound quite good. Your description of jerk chicken has my mouth watering. The prices sound decent for what you get. I am looking forward to trying this place out in the near future.

  • by Karen Sollazzo - May 23, 2005, 7:02 pm

    This restaurant sounds like a real find. Cheap prices, good food…. only some of the imagery used in this review seems to undermine the complimentary words. What was the purpose of telling us what BAD goat tastes like, complete with a disgusting description, when what this restaurant serves is GOOD? And a tasty side dish described as ” leguminous goop”? Uh… I THINK that was a compliment?

  • by Maria Cecillia Silva - May 24, 2005, 9:49 am

    Maeve has an unusual way of discribing foods. He likes to add extras and sometimes it is hard to digest. This Resturant sounds like a nice place to get a taste of the Caribbean food.The prices sound resonable and the menu sounds delicious. I guess I will add it to may list of things to do. I have alot of friends from the Caribbeans and it will be nice to take them out for a change to something they will enjoy.

  • by Eric Wilson - May 25, 2005, 7:30 pm

    It is funny, because my dad and I were just talking about how nice it would be to go to a good Caribbean joint! There are a few small places in Montreal, but not really any nice places where you can take the whole family.
    I read the review in Hour, gave the place a try, and I loved it! It is a nice place, that isn’t fancy, but is by no means cheap looking. You won’t feel rushed out. The food is true Caribbean. My dad has eaten in Jamica a lot, and he couldn’t tell the difference.
    Check it out!

  • by Katie Pelech - May 27, 2005, 12:01 pm

    Intrigued by the descriptions of vegetarian rotis and lentil dhal (all “leguminous” descriptions aside), I managed to drag my picky vegetarian friend into Caribe Delite a couple of nights ago. The table settings and decor are spartan, the service casual, polite, and highly irregular in consistency, and the music (loops of plinky cheerfulness) seemed hell-bent on driving me maaaaaad.
    But I cared not. All minor flaws were forgotten amidst the bliss conjured up by my gilbaka curry, the sweet pumpkin mash, and the toothsome roti nestled by its side. I waited nervously for complaints from my pessimistic counterpart, but if she had any I couldn’t hear them through the mouthful of chickpeas and potatoes. This was 5 days ago, and I’ve been back twice since. The soups are divine, and my pals have raved about the goat dishes (personally, I’m not quite there yet). The dynamic duo that owns and operates the place even makes me feel special by making individual modifications to the inside of my rotis, but I suspect they do that for all the girls :) Go and find out!

  • by Dan Leznoff - June 14, 2005, 4:30 pm

    If you like Caribbean food, you’ve got to frequent the neighborhood at the northern end of Victoria, near metro Namur. From cheap family-run (you can see washing machines and laundry being done in the back!) restaurant like Mr. Spicee, where patties are $1 and there are no tables, to the laid back breezy ambiance of sitting down across the street at La Maison du Cari, to experiencing any of the nameless miscellany of small restaurants along the strip, this is the place to be for eating Caribbean food. One restaurant serves breakfast til late, and another specializes in roti, jerk chicken and stocking a variety of flavored ice creams mysteriously enough. Close to KFC and driveby shootings. Come today! Also stop by Triple A Records for some reggae seven inches.

  • by Melanie Lewis - June 17, 2005, 4:43 pm

    My mouth was watering just reading the article. I definitely think that there can never be too much caribbean restaurants. Those who own them must try to find a way to attract people who have never tried it. I am fortunate that I have dated a Jamaican therefore have been introduced to Carribean food and know the kind of food that was mentioned in the article but if you don’t know, then it might not sound too appealing. Think about it…

  • by Pedro Eggers - November 17, 2005, 6:11 pm

    I’m part latin so the whole idea of being spooked by the culinar bogeyman of spicy eats just doesn’t fly with me. I’m pretty sure you could line the Space Shuttle with my stomach lining by now. Yeah, that’s how much I love spicy food. Sorry to say I’ve never eaten here but now that I am aware of it you can bet that by year’s end I’ll have given them a fair whirl to impress my rather expansive yen for things hot and spicy.

  • by Vanessa Lam - August 25, 2006, 3:38 pm

    I’ve been here half a dozen times this summer (2006). It is my favorite find. Not too spicy but very tasty and different. My favourites are the the pulouri dumplings (appetizers), roti (I like the chickpea) and the fresh peanut shake. The peanut shake doesn’t sound like it would be good but it is delicious!!! I highly recommend it. It tastes like the inside of a Reese’s peanut butter cup in a straw!
    My sister also got the Ghyanese style chow mein and was happy with it. We are chinese but enjoyed the different flavour.

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