Annex 63: Bon Appétit Des Caraïbes | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

LOCATION CLOSED

3426 Notre-Dame
Montreal, Quebec

Metro: Lionel-Groulx
Bus:  STM 36, 71, 78, 108, 191, 211, 405, 411, 425, 485, 491, 496, 747

Visit:  March 10, 2012

http://www.bonappetitdescaraibes.com/

It’s been 2 months since I had my first experience with food from the islands.  My first experience was at Kalalu.  It was something quite refreshing and I was more than happy to embark on a second experience.  The seeds for this particular choice was planted a month ago at the Deville Dinerbar.  It was a suggestion made by our server for the evening.  Looking for ideas for future outing, the group that was there for that evening was more than happy to seek out their appetite on Notre-Dame.

The group joining me on this evening are fellow Twitter people @billrusnak, @sandman5, and @stephohanley.  Also, making her first appearance as part of our group was the dedicated food scientist behind the blog, The Sassy Foodophile.  On this cold March evening, we were more than ready to set out and try something that none of us were really that familiar with.

My experience with the restaurant started last Monday when I attempted to make a reservation by telephone.  When I got through to the other end, I had an extremely hard time hearing anything.  So, as clearly as I could, I rattled off a date, time, and amount of people who would be showing up.  I was so frazzled by the lack of sound on the phone that mentioning my name or telephone number never occurred to me.  So, things being what they are, I hoped for the best in the days to come.

On the night of, I decided to take a nice scenic walk on Notre-Dame, passing all the culinary icons of the area from the Griffintown Cafe to Joe Beef.  Along the way, I was crossing my imaginary, frozen fingers, hoping that I would get my group the table we wanted.  When I entered the restaurant, the place was near empty.  There was only one table sitting and eating.  I walked towards the counter at the back and was greeted by one of the staff.  I mentioned that I wanted a table of 5 and was given a free choice of which table I wanted.

It was at that moment where that person asked me if I was the person on the phone.  I explained to them that I couldn’t hear a thing on the phone.  The reasoning was that they were having a party at the time.  With our luck, on this evening as well, there was also plenty of activity in the kitchen, which was odd for such an empty restaurant.  It turns out that there were guests in the kitchen preparing for a party.

Before we got to thinking about the menu and our orders, we got a chance to take in the scenery of the restaurant.  The one thing you’ll probably be thinking is that I painted the walls.  I’ll just say that they used a very generous amount of orange to give themselves the best of identities.  The other thing that really caught our table’s attention was the computer terminal situated next to the ATM machine.  We wondered if it was functional because it looked old.

However, everything setting put aside, we weren’t there for that, we were there for the food.  The menu was studied for quite a few minutes.  We weren’t so sure what we wanted at first, but eventually it came together.  I was going to go with one dish, but when members of our group were starting to come together on a theme, I couldn’t resist that and joined in.  I know that @billrusnak was going to be a jerk (inside joke) and stray away from the group, but in the end, he followed suit.  We were all swayed by the roti and ended up ordering four different kinds.

The toughest part of the ordering process was the appetizers.  Originally, I wasn’t going to go in, but again, I couldn’t resist following the group.  On the menu, there were 5 different kinds of appetizers.  I was thinking that was great because there were five of us.  That’s where we hit a bit of a brick wall.  At least 2 of the appetizers were not available.  I think that’s the first ever time in my 2 and a half years where something wasn’t available when I showed up.  So, I was forced to make a last minute ordering decision.

Before I get to the actual eating process, I have to put in a word about the service.  I’ll say that we were treated extremely well by our server.  All our many questions were answered to the best of their ability.  When I got my bill at the end, I noticed I wasn’t charged for my appetizer.  My conscience couldn’t live with that and I went back to pay what I owed.  I wouldn’t of thought about that if the service level was sub-par.  Regardless of what you may think, you’ll feel comfortable eating here.

APPETIZERS

Our meal started with appetizers.  Rather than order for ourselves and eat what we picked, we decided to share nearly everything.  So, we all had a fair shot at everything that was ordered.  That even continued when we got to the main courses.

Aloo Pie

This is what I ordered for the table.  The one thing we weren’t sure about when it came to appetizers was the size.  For the price you pay, you’re not sure what you’re going to get.  But, we were more than surprised when they were quite generous in size.

An aloo pie is a variant of a samosa found generally in Jamaica.  In this aloo pie, you have a potato filling mixed with a generous amount of spices.

When you take a bite out of this, you don’t get it at first, but there is a little kick out of it spice-wise.  Out of all the appetizers I tried, this was my favorite.  There’s something about potato filled goods that hit a sweet spot for me.

Doubles

This is a dish that you may normally find in Trinidad and Tobago.  These are two fried flat breads filled with chick peas.  This one didn’t really have a lasting impact on me.  The chick peas were okay, but I couldn’t really discern a unique taste.  I was probably still overwhelmed by the kick I got from the aloo pie.

Poulourie

These are fluffy dough that are seasoned with various spices and saffron, then fried.  For the price of 2 dollars, you get about 6 of these.  From first sight, they look like your average Greek loukoumades.  As a matter of fact, they are very much similar, though they come from very distinct parts of the world.

When you bite this, you definitely will get the resemblance.  When you dip in the provided sauce, which is made to resemble tamarind, you definitely get something that tastes good.  Along with the aloo pie, this was one of my favorites.

Vegetable Patty

When I think of patties, being the burger person that I am, I immediately go to meat.  However, this was something I couldn’t really picture until I saw it.  They look like turnovers and can be filled with almost anything.  These were filled with vegetables.  What I was impressed with was the color that came with this patty.

MAIN COURSE

The Rotis

Since there were at least four different kinds of roti available on the menu, we decided to each pick one.  Once they arrived on the table, we noticed how they all looked the same, with only slight variances.  With that being said, only 1 main picture was enough to pull that point across.  I could’ve easily put pictures of all 4 rotis, but someone could say that I took a picture of just 1 and posted it 4 times.  That’s how similar they looked.

We, being in the sharing mood, decided to share and sample everything we could.  There were four different kinds of roti on the table.  The four kinds were beef, chicken, shrimp, and goat.  Yes, you did read that right, I said goat.  I know the menu has ox tail on it, but I wasn’t coming into this evening thinking that I would be eating goat.  Let’s just say that in the last week, I really expanded my culinary horizons.

For those of you who don’t know what a roti is, let me take this brief moment to explain it to you.  To make this simpler, picture a burrito.  Rather than it being filled with your normal Mexican fare, it is filled with many different things.  These are filled with curried stew and potatoes.  You complete our roti wrap with the meat of your choice.  The 4 meats I mentioned above are your main selections.  These kinds of wraps are also known as a Dhalpuri roti.

For the sake of this post, I’m going to go over the three rotis I didn’t choose myself in the order of preference.  Then, I’m going to dissect the one I did order for the table.  The chicken roti was the one that I couldn’t really taste.  The chicken seemed a little lost behind all that curry.  I did find a few very tiny bones in the chicken one.  So, you do have to be careful when eating, not that you aren’t already.  The beef one was definitely a solid pick.  It reminded me a lot of beef stew and that was a good thing.

The most interesting one out of all 4 of them was the goat.  Up to this point in my life, I have never eaten goat before.  I’ll admit that I haven’t really eaten a lot of strange things in my life because I tend to stick to more heart attack inducing items, so this will rank right up there as strange.  I didn’t know what to expect at all.  When you take your first bite, it tastes a little strange, but then, it fades away.  The rest of it just goes down like any normal meat.  In the end, I didn’t mind it so much.

Shrimp Roti

This was the roti I ordered for the table.  When I first got it, we didn’t really make the decision to share it just yet, so I went ahead on my own mission to do my investigation.  If you’re a fan of Gordon Ramsay like I am, you’ll know how he eats food.  So, if you can, you can picture me cutting up the roti a bit and going through one part of it like he does.  The main reasoning behind that was for me to find the shrimp.  It took me a little bit of time, but I found one nice enough to take a picture of.

The curry and potatoes were tremendous.  I really liked the filling of the roti quite a bit.  The shrimp were well cooked and tasted of curry, obviously.  Even though there weren’t as many of them as I would’ve liked, it was sufficient to get the idea of what shrimp roti is.  The last thing you’ll note is that without the sauce, it is somewhat spicy, but not enough to really leave a lasting effect.

The rotis were accompanied by hot sauce, which were made in house using a varying amount of spices, all designed to make things hot.  My own personal experience with hot sauce is limited to watching it on television.  I’ll leave those things to the professionals.  However, I felt like seeing what the fuss was all about and put a bit of it on my plate.  Mixing it with what was left of my curried potatoes, I put down the little bit of hot sauce.  It wasn’t much and I didn’t really feel it at first.  It takes a few moment and then it kicks you straight in the throat.  Now, it wasn’t an extreme amount, but it was enough to be felt for a few minutes.  I’m lucky it didn’t last as long as the mild Indian food I had at Mahli.  I felt that more the next day, as I’m not feeling any spices right at this exact moment.

Chicken Curry Plate

This was the dish chosen by @stephohanley.  Thanks to @sandman5 for helping me correct this.

Final Verdict

Don’t let the lack of activity food you.  This restaurant gets quite a bit of business from take-out and catering.  For those of you interesting in dining in, you’ll get the best of service.  What you’ll also get is food that is worthy of making things memorable.  I’ll be sure to remember the time I had goat for the first time for a long while to come.

Bon Appetit Des Caraibes on Urbanspoon

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If you like what you read, remember you can interact with me on Twitter and on my Facebook page.  Also, be sure to follow @billrusnak, @sandman5, and @stephohanley.  In addition, you can visit the The Sassy Foodophile.

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