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 city’s abundance of Jamaican and Trinidadian spots, this unique restaurant shines. “They see the white sand beaches, but they don’t know the culture behind it,” Procida says of Canada’s general perception of the French islands. “We bring a new flavour.”
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. “The main ingredient is love,” 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 – a truly irresistible, “Creole sandwich,” 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 “Le Augusta,” which is filled with feroce— a blend of avocado, codfish and cassava. With a guacamole-like consistency, feroce doesn’t level. Fresh and clean flavors of fish and veg are pronounced in each bite, especially when paired with LTC’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. Don’t forget a glass of homemade sorrel ginger juice, aka bissap.
Le Ti Colibri is a pretty small place, and you’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.