Ack, I know I haven't been posting very frequently since I got back from my trip. Truth is, I haven't had much time to explore new restaurants, and now I'm swamped with school work. I haven't given up yet, though! Just updating really, reeeeaaaaallly slowly. Anywho, I'm really too distracted by my impending exams to find a way to segway into the post, so without further ado, I present to you Montreal Caribbean!
Even though the restaurant's name is about as generic General Tao chicken, don't let it fool you into thinking that it's some kind of McDonaldized version of Caribbean restaurants in Montreal. This inconspicuous restaurant, located right across from Vendome metro, is a small, family-owned restaurant working hard to bring a piece if the Caribbeans here to us North-dwelling Montrealers.
Accessibility - Grade: A
It's literally right outside Vendome metro, right across the street.
Service - Grade: A-
You want to know how small the restaurant is? Our waiter was also the chef and the owner. It's like a 3-in-1 deal. In any case, he was very nice and thorough when explaining the menu, and the service was personal, as you would expect from a family-owned joint. The only setback was when a huge group of peope came in to eat, and he kind of forgot about us, but he apologized profusely. Plus, the group was a bit obnoxious, so it was understandable.
If you're looking for a restaurant with a nice ambiance for a romantic dinner, though, this place is not for you. Everything about the restaurant is simple, from the decor to the food.
Food - Grade: B-
This is it. I don't think you can get any simpler or homey than this.
Ah. This took me back to the good ol' high school cafeteria days. We started with a Jamaican patty, which I thought was okay, definitely better than the ones we had at the school cafeteria, since the ground beef filling actually had texture and diced onion in it instead of being a wet pile of mush. The shell was soft and chewy, like the ones from the caf. The flavour was a bit weak, though, and the patty is definitely not home-made. It was probably store-bought. But for $1.50, it makes for a decent snack.
I ordered the goat curry, because it's goat, and I'm not sure if I've ever had goat. Also, curry. I'll probably go for the oxtail next time, since that sounds pretty interesting too.
As you can see from the dish, everything is just so... simple. There is no garnish, no side dishes, no extraneous details. It's simple a plate of curried chunks of goat and a bowl of rice.
Goat meat isn't much different from lamb, as it turns out. The gamey taste might be a bit stronger, as I could taste it despite the spices and curry, but it wasn't unpleasant. In fact, it blended well with the mix of spices and curry. The meat was extremely juicy and tender, having soaked up some of the curry.
My friend ordered the jerk chicken, which is apparently the signature dish for Caribbean restaurants. The chicken was cut into generous chunks, and was just as tender and juicy as the goat. It was spicy, with just a hint of sweetness. I remember trying the jerk chicken from Mango Bay, which seems dry and under-seasoned in comparison. I only tried a piece, but my friend pretty much inhaled her plate, so I'm guessing she was satisfied.
Both dishes come with a bowl of rice with a piece of plantain sitting on top. Again, simple. The rice has no seasoning, and we were taught to dump it into the plate and mix the whole thing. The plantain was simply grilled, but was very tasty. I love plantain. Yum.
The restaurant is also pretty vegetarian-friendly. The loud group that came in after us had a couple of demanding vegetarians, and the restaurant had dishes that met all their requirements. They have a section completely dedicated to vegetarian dishes.
The only thing I would have changed was to perhaps include a salad or something, because the lack of vegetables made me feel a bit... unbalanced. But then again, that's part of the authentic experience.
Price - $$
It's $10 for a regular size dish and $13 for a large. My goat curry was a regular and the jerk chicken was a large. Personally, I don't think the regular size will be enough for the average person, especially since the dish doesn't come with much sides. Including the rum cake, the patty and two coconut waters, the total bill came out to around $33 before tip. It's definitely affordable, and I would recommend this place to any student who is hankering for something different.
Note: If you're paying by debit, there's a $1 surcharge.
Final Grade: B-
Montreal Carribean isn't pretentious; it doesn't try to be something it isn't. The name of the restaurant is simple, the decor and ambiance are simple, and the food they serve is simple. But simple has its own comfort and charm. Friendly service, interesting food and reasonable prices... Can a poor student ask for a more?
5155 Boul. De Maisonneuve, Montreal