Toppa Top 10: The Best Caribbean Eats in Toronto

June 28, 2015

Cuisine: Guadeloupe and Martinique
(291 Augusta Avenue, Kensington Market, M5T 2M2; 416.925.2223)

When Matthias Laurin and Kristel Procida moved to Toronto five years ago, they were in search of home-style dishes that reminded them of home in the Lesser Antilles. Located in the colourful Kensington Market neighborhood, their Le Ti Colibri, is a vibrant cove of authentic Creole eats from Guadeloupe and Martinique. Amidst the cityโ€™s abundance of Jamaican and Trinidadian spots, this unique restaurant shines. โ€œThey see the white sand beaches, but they donโ€™t know the culture behind it,โ€ Procida says of Canadaโ€™s general perception of the French islands. โ€œWe bring a new flavour.โ€

Laurin, a trained and cultured chef who has worked in Europe, hails from Martinique, while Procida is from neighbouring Guadeloupe. Both countries offer very similar flavors, blending African spices with a French twist. โ€œThe main ingredient is love,โ€ Laurin says, crediting his grandmother, Mamille Leonie, for many of the homestyle dishes served.

Offerings range from Accras de morue (codfish fritters) to plates of callaloo and codfish. But nothing compares to the Bokit โ€“ a truly irresistible, โ€œCreole sandwich,โ€ served in a fried bake. This popular street food from Guadeloupe is usually filled with either seafood (shredded salt cod, tuna) or veggies (avocado, soy meat) and comes in several different mixtures and varieties.

The most popular Bokit at Le Ti Colibri is โ€œLe Augusta,โ€ which is filled with feroceโ€” a blend of avocado, codfish and cassava. With a guacamole-like consistency, feroce doesnโ€™t level. Fresh and clean flavors of fish and veg are pronounced in each bite, especially when paired with LTCโ€™s house-made, spicy Creole sauce. A combo will get you a side of cassava fries or a whole fried plantain, perfectly caramelized and piping hot. Donโ€™t forget a glass of homemade sorrel ginger juice, aka bissap.

Le Ti Colibri is a pretty small place, and youโ€™ll find their shaded, lush back patio packed with an ethnic mosaic of diners on a sunny day. Speakers bump everything from Chronixx to Kassav’, with an emphasis on Zouk of course. Laurin and Procida have picked the perfect spot in Toronto to share their cultural gifts with the city, and their establishment reflects the food they make: colorful, warm and inviting.