If you only knew Baccanalle chef Resa Solomon-St. Lewis from various farmers’ markets, a good number of charitable events, and a bunch of food festivals around town, you will be pleased to know she’s found a home base for her terrific Caribbean food. Tucked into the ground floor of the Phenix Professional Building on Montreal Road, the Capital Fare Café is bright green, very small and windowless.
There are three tables and a smattering of chairs, but mostly, it seems, the three-month-old micro café is used for take-away. Black boards announce the menu and daily specials. Harvey & Vern’s sodas are on display at the café counter. Shelves are crowded with Baccanalle spice blends, sweet sauces and juices, along with a cranberry-sorrel-hibiscus compote, my new go-to-mate for cheese. Sharing shelf space are the trophies won at the Embassy Chefs Challenge in 2015 and 2016, when Resa cooked for the High Commission for the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. It’s not a place designed for lingering, but for well-cooked, immensely flavourful, mostly Caribbean and Latin food, it’s a place worth discovering.
Fragrance matters more than fire in my idea of the ideal jerk. The jerk chicken tucked inside the soft flour tortilla I enjoyed for lunch last week began well with dark meat. (Jerk breast is always a mistake.) This was moist and juicy chicken, suffused with the warming Caribbean spices of its marinade and with a titch of Scotch bonnet liveliness. The pepper-heat was tamed with a kiwi chutney and an abundance of crunchy shredded vegetables. Beautifully balanced, it was a parcel of pleasure.
I enjoyed as well a fine and filling ‘Calypso’ soup, of black beans and corn, shredded chicken, root vegetables and blue corn tortilla chips, with a cap of shredded cheddar cheese. It was hot and filling and good, but it’s the jerk chicken I’m crossing town for. And maybe for another jar of compote.
595 Montreal Road, unit 106, 613-859-6297 Open 8am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Good choice for vegan and gluten-free dishes