Restaurants add a touch of spice

in run up to carnival

Glynnis Mapp photos


The Ackee Tree’s signature breakfast dish comes with ackee and salted codfish with a rice and peas, sweet peppers, green onions and caramel-sweet fried plantains.

Queen West and the Fashion District is known for its clothes and street sophistication, but is also a hidden gem for the best Caribbean eats.

And with the Toronto Caribbean Carnival events kicking off this Saturday —the Junior Carnival will be at Yorkgate Mall on Saturday, leading up to the Aug. 5 parade — now’s the time to think about Caribbean food.

One spot you can’t miss is the new Ackee Tree at 170 Spadina Ave. (at Queen St.). Owner Chris George, who has been in the restaurant business for over 11 years, and has created the Ackee Tree to make authentic Jamaican cuisine.

Bacchus Roti’s beef dinner

“What I love is when older Jamaicans come in and compliment the food, they know what the authentic tastes are and that’s what we try to give everyone,” George says.

The Ackee Tree’s signature Ackee Breakfast ($8.99), by Ackee Tree chef, Michelle Lindo is a wake up call to look forward to. She serves up a generous serving of ackee (which looks and tastes like eggs) and salted codfish with a rice and peas, sweet peppers, green onions and caramel-sweet fried plantains.

One proud Parkdale restaurant that the area’s most artsy go to is Bacchus Roti Shop at 1376 Queen St. W. (between Landsdowne and Dufferin). The Guyanese restaurant found its way to Parkdale in 1985. Owner Richard Bacchus has seen the neighbourhood grow and change and in the process so have his recipes. Bacchus Roti offers rotis and entrees with cheddar and parmesan cheese.

“Our customers want different options,” Bacchus says. “We have a lot of vegetarians who want good options that taste good, so we offer cheese and other toppings to make it their own.”

Other unique toppings at Bacchus Roti are their smooth butternut squash and spinach. Chef Suzanne Rose-Bacchus cooks up a mean beef dinner ($7) with succulent cubes of beef in a thick cumin, fresh garlic and fennel madras curry. It’s served with squash and rice and peas on the side.

Another hot spot is Island Foods, a Trinidadian restaurant that has been passed on through generations. Right in the heart of the parade, twin sisters, Kim and Lisa Sawh own the 1182 King St. location and people flock from all over downtown for their seasoned boneless chicken roti. The sisters cook all of the food and make their own roti shells with the traditional daal puree method (where ground chick peas are infused in the dough), a method Kim says comes from their East Indian background.

“We learned a lot from our mother who created most of the recipes,” Sawh says.

Jump up! Jump up!

• To join one of the parade’s masquerade bands, tickets can be purchased online atwww.wejumpinghigher.comor by phone at 1-888-49-FETES (33837); all other events are free unless otherwise listed.

• For more recipes, check make traditional Caribbean dishes!

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