Spice City Toronto: New Restaurant Puts Haitian Classics on the Menu
Enjoy some Creole chicken or pick up some rare and tasty djon djon at St. Clair West's La Créole.
Haitian food is finally getting some love in Toronto. In the fall, Jen Agg from the Black Hoof opened a much-acclaimed Haitian spin-off restaurant, Rhum Corner, with her Haitian hubby Roland Jean. And just a few weeks ago, La Créole, a French Caribbean restaurant, opened up at 810 St. Clair Avenue West, between Oakwood and Bathurst. It’s a good thing, because since the closing of La Belle Jacmel, there had been no place to find Haitian food in Toronto.
La Créole serves food from the French Caribbean, including Martinique and Guadeloupe, but as the chef is Haitian, classics from that country dominate the menu. Marinad are bits of fried dough, typically sold as a street food in Haiti. Akra malanga are bite-sized fritters made of malanga, a starchy root vegetable. Both are served with a tasty but searingly spicy side of shredded vegetables, called pikliz.
Mains include le toro, a hefty, rich beef stew, and Creole chicken, baked and coated with a spicy tomato sauce. Both are served with djon djon rice, made with the rare djon djon mushroom found only in Haiti. “We get it from Montreal, because you can’t find it here in Toronto,” explains owner Ben Cherette, a Haitian community organizer and event planner. Without a Haitian grocery in the city, La Créole is picking up the slack, and customers can purchase bags of djon djon, as well as sweet cassava, Haitian coffee and Couronne, a gaggingly sweet Haitian soft drink.
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