I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.
Next up in my culinary adventuring is Haiti, which shares a border with the Dominican Republic.
Here’s a better visual.
A couple weeks ago I had another dinner date with my coworkers Frances and Rachel, also for Winterlicious before it ended. This time we went to La Creole, a Haitian and French Caribbean restaurant on St. Clair West.
Haitian cuisine is similar to much of the caribbean, but does have its own unique flavours also. It has a lot of French, African, Spanish and Taíno Amerindian influence. According to this website, “the Tainos left their staples, the Spanish carried their cooked green peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, the French brought their stews and soups, the Africans introduced okra, pigeon peas.” So I guess they just have the best of everything!
The Haitian food culture is pretty underrepresented in Toronto — I think La Creole is the only Haitian restaurant we have, and I’m glad it exists! It’s really nice in there.
Especially with the French pop music playing in the background. J’adore.
We started with Caribbean cocktails, as you do. I asked our server which was the most traditional Haitian cocktail and she recommended Le zouk, with rhum, passionfruit and mint, so Frances and I went with that.
Ours were very good, though a bit pricy for their size (I think they were $9). I can’t remember what Rachel ordered (it looks like a mojito but I don’t think it was) but she said she enjoyed hers well.
To start I ordered the Akkra Ak Bannan.
Codfish fritters with sweet plantain puree and criollo sauce. I was a big fan of this, especially with the sauce.
We ordered from the prix fixe Winterlicious menu but also supplemented our dinner with an appetizer from their main menu. We got le plat fritay, an assorted platter of amuse-bouche with dips and a side of spicy pickled slaw (pikliz) and watercress dip.
Really I ordered it because I have always wanted to say “amuse-bouche.” There were crispy creole seasoned black eye pea fritters (my favourite), tostones (crispy plantain slices, also popular in Cuba!), potato fritters, and malanga root fritters. All very good but I do sort of wish I had ordered something different for my initial appetizer because I was pretty frittered-out by the end of that platter. We all shared it, but it was a lot. That watercress dip though, oh man. I loved that.
Frances and I both ordered the Poul Boukannen Ak Gwayave Ak Makawoni-O-Gratin for our mains.
Or grilled creole chicken with guava BBQ sauce served with creamy creole macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese! It was all so good. I was really impressed. Rachel ordered the plantain lasagne and that was also delicious and something I would definitely go for next time. Plantain lasagne, like plantains instead of the noodles. Who knew that would be so good.
Our prix fixe menu included dessert and the exotic fruit was catching my eye but when we asked about the fruit our server listed a bunch of fruits that are available in Canada, like pineapple and papaya. I was hoping for something a bit more actually exotic. Oh well. I ordered La Tropicana and have no regrets.
Golden butter cake soaked in whiskey, raisin and coconut served with sauce anglaise. Amazing. Dense and buttery and wonderful.
La Creole was a delicious experience and I would definitely go back! And that is Haiti crossed off my map. Onto the next!