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Simone's Caribbean Restaurant, 596 Danforth Ave

In the space which has previously been Mon-Kut Thai, Aravind, and Namaste Nepal we now have a Caribbean restaurant. My wife and I tried it out on Sunday as we wanted to go to the Grand Opening of the Real Jerk but it was looking too busy, so we walked over to Simone's instead. It happened to be their first day opening and they were mainly serving family and friends plus a few people like us who happened to stop by. The official opening is in about 2 weeks. Many of the fish Items on the menu were not available yet so we ordered the Pumpkin Chicken soup, chicken roti, and a braised Oxtail dish. Everything was quite tasty and reasonably priced. If you like Caribbean food, it's worth a visit.

 
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  1. Thanks for the report. Did they mention if this is the opening menu or they plan on expanding it? I am just waiting for ONE Caribbean place in Toronto to step outside the box and expand the menu past the usual.

    I will say this, the soups do have some potential. A good Mannish water and Fish Tea Soup is hard to find in TO. Would love for someone to report back about either.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Matt H

      I have a feeling that this may be the final menu, but I didn't ask. She has not owned a restaurant before but has worked in a few Caribbean places. Only one soup is available each day, not all that are listed. What sort of items were you hoping to see on the menu? I can ask about those when I go in there next. Or you can call, all the contact info is here: http://411.ca/business/profile/9641043

      1. re: foodyDudey

        Whether as a daily special or regular item, the soups sound promising. They are probably worth a visit based on that alone.

        When it comes to specific menu items it would be nice to just see something outside the regular (Curry chicken, Stew chicken, Jerk chicken, Oxtail, etc...) A place that adds some Cow Foot, Tripe and Beans, Rundown, Escoveitch Fish just to name a few examples would do very well in TO I think. Especially if they can get them right.

        1. re: Matt H

          My guess is that the first two items you mentioned won't be big sellers on Danforth Ave. I had Escovitch Fish at the Real Jerk on Friday night but it was extremely mild, I couldn't taste any spices or vinegar at all! Simone's has fried fish on the menu, and I would guess it is Escovitch style. I am wanting to try the Mannish water soup.

    2. Walked by and noticed this, thanks for the post and update! Very exciting!!

      1. Thanks for posting this. Look fwd to trying it out.

        1. Hopefully they can keep up with the more interesting menu items - and desserts!

          1. Walked by yesterday (Tuesday) around 5pm. Walked in to an empty restaurant to snag a takeout menu, which were stacked on the bar near the entrance. Friendly guy in chef's whites came out from the kitchen in the back to ask if I needed any help. I told him I was grabbing a takeout menu and asked whether they were officially open yet. He confirmed that they were open.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Deep Puddle

              Here's another vote for Simone's Caribbean resto. I don't get to the Danforth much (parking's too tough), or to Caribbean restos, but a friend lured me there the other night - and to me it's a little gem. I suppose it has a standard-issue Caribbean menu - jerk chicken, curry goat, assorted rotis, that sort of stuff - but the execution seems above and beyond the call of duty. Mighty tasty, especially the pumpkin chicken soup-of-the-day, one of seven soups rotated during the week. It was just about the most flavourful restaurant soup I've had in months, right up there with Mogette's (on Mt. Pleasant Rd.) $12 onion soup. Simone's soups, however, come in at $3.50, or $5 for a large bowl, with enough in it to make a light meal. Most everything else is also modestly priced, with many dishes available in two sizes. Also enjoyed: braised oxtail, rice and peas, goat roti and - for a shared dessert - black cake ($5.50), which I take to be the Caribbean version of old-fashioned Christmas cake. Dee-lish. A small beer and wine list, though I went for a Ting, the Caribbean grapefruit soda. Two could eat quite well for about $30-$35 or so, all in. Friendly service as well.

              Alas, we were the only sit-down customers in the joint that night. It has been open just over three months, but I guess the place has yet to catch on with anyone looking for a good feed at dinner at a low-end price.. For sure, if I lived in the neighbourhood, I'd be in there every so often, if only for that richly pungent pumpkin chicken soup. Assuming it sustains its quality, it'd be a crime if Simone's met the same fate as previous occupants at this hard-luck location.

              1. re: juno

                Thanks for this review juno, as just yesterday I had thought it's time to mention Simone's again. Now I don't have to as I could not have said it better. You should try the codfish fritters next time. We usually order take-out and don't even need to spend $30 to have enough for dinner with some left over. I hate to see places like this with really decent food looking so empty each time I go in. Hopefully it's because others are also ordering take-out like we do.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  Maybe encourage Simone's so start a twitter account next time you're there, so Chowhounds and other Danforth businesses who like Simone's food can retweet to spread the word, foodyDudey? I know there's a Danforth BIA that retweets some Danforth businesses' tweets.

                  1. re: prima

                    I haven't had a chance to talk to Simone recently as I've been busy. Last night, Mrs fD picked up some food I ordered. Some items were even better than last time we ordered! We had a friend over last night and he also enjoyed the food.

                    I ordered:
                    - codfish fritters
                    - pumpkin and chicken soup
                    - shrimp roti
                    - chicken roti

                    All the above were very tasty and the shrimp roti was perfectly spiced cooked properly. It was even better than the shrimp roti I ordered when they first opened. Whoever cooked the shrimp should teach the person who cooked my halibut at "Days on Front" in Kingston a lesson of how to properly cook seafood, as my halibut was extremely overcooked when I dined there on Monday evening.

                    I'd say Say Simone's has better food and value then any other restaurant that has opened in the area in the past 6 months. If you like Caribbean food, give it a try before it's gone. It was empty again last night at 7:45 pm.

            2. Glad someone reminded me of my 2 recent trips here. definitely excellent Caribbean food in a simple, homey place. It's been busy both times I've visited - once in December to dine-in, once in January for take-out. Service is a little spotty and definitely not too sharp. Wine is outrageously horrible ... seriously. But, the jerk chicken, rotis, rice, coleslaw, etc. is excellent. Take-out rice and cole slaw is a little pricey for the size. Next time I get take-out I might be encourage more accurate timing on my order - server said 15 minutes and when I arrived 15 minutes later, she still hadn't written down my order - again, service is flaky... I would hands down go to Simone's over the fruit fly infested Real Jerk.

              1 Reply
              1. re: roostermom

                We have not had any service issues, but only get take out now as we like to eat at home and have our own choice of beer. When we order, they always say it will be ready in 20 minutes and it always has been.

                You ordered wine? I can't think of any wine that I would pair with Jamaican food! It would have to be a white if anything. Of all the items on the menu, I sometimes pick the coleslaw they offer as a side with the roti, but I find it sweet and will order the green salad or potato salad in the future.

              2. I have been to Simone's twice now for weekend lunch. We did not have any service issues either time. Food was very flavourful and well portioned at an extremely reasonable price. Our roti lunch came with choice of side salad for $8 and we were stuffed.

                It's bright and cheerful and I'm quite surprised it isn't busier.

                1. We've had take out twice and both times service has been extremely friendly and food has been top notch! I hope it survives, I'm trying to spread the word!

                  1. We had lunch at Simone's on Sunday. Maybe it was an off day? The service was great, but the food was mixed.
                    The cod fritter was very tasty, the coleslaw was very strange - tasted like vanilla pudding? - couldn't eat more than a couple of bites and we LOVE coleslaw.
                    The goat roti was flavourful but the roti itself was tough and the goat had lots of little dangerous bones, although it was nice to have the option of channa instead of potato. The jerk chicken was okay but too many bony back pieces and the rice and peas was bland and salty.
                    They have homemade drinks on the menu like ginger beer but didn't have any, which was disappointing.
                    We left thinking we wouldn't try it again, but would love to support them as they are local and we love good roti and jerk. Should we have ordered differently?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: the_beezelet

                      Looks like you ordered items which I don't order. I agree about the strange coleslaw, but apparently that is how it is in the Caribbean, the natives were complaining that is was not authentic so they had to change the recipe. (I complained about the taste of the coleslaw back in November) To me it has an almond taste, not vanilla. But both are not what you expect in coleslaw.

                      I would avoid anything with goat as it will have bones, but I didn't know they had small sharp pieces.

                      Try the shrimp or chicken roti, there are no bones in those. I liked the shrimp roti we had on Tuesday so much, I ate another today! See the picture below after I split one with my wife. (this is the slightly bigger "half" )

                      I won't be ordering the goat roti because of the bones, but will try the beef roti one day but as I like the shrimp one, it may be awhile till I try the beef.

                       
                      1. re: foodyDudey

                        If you don't mind bones the goat roti was delish. Had it to go when I passed by in Dec.

                      2. re: the_beezelet

                        We were also there for lunch on Sunday!

                        From our previous experience, we knew to stay away from the coleslaw. This time I had the "sweet potato" salad for my side. Basically a typical potato salad made with yam, egg, mayo and kicked up with some thyme and spice. It was very good as was my mixed veg roti with channa.

                      3. Got the large curry chicken, a small side of channa and a beef patty to go. Really liked their version of chicken curry. Will definitely be back.

                        3 other groups came in to place take-out orders around 4:30 pm on a Sat.

                        1. I went for an early dinner last weekend and was the only person there for quite a while, then two others came in. The young woman behind the counter looked a bit stricken when I mentioned I hoped business would pick up - I guess she had hoped it would by now. Too bad.

                          I tried the oxtail which was tasty but not fall-off-the-bone, which is my favourite way. I had green bananas and dumplings instead of rice, since I had never tried that before - I found the green bananas interesting (bland and starchy but fun as a way to mop up the stew juices) but the dumplings too filling, heavy and a bit hard. The sweet potato salad was yummy - and sweet, as promised.

                          Looks like I'll have to try again sometime and focus on chicken!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Klafouti

                            Do you like shrimp? The shrimp roti is very good.

                            1. re: foodyDudey

                              I love shrimp - and they are so good curried - but I try to focus on sustainable/eco-friendly ones, so pretty sure I'd be out of luck here :( .

                            2. re: Klafouti

                              uggg...

                              it's like pointing out a large, hairy mole on someone's face...

                              only mention business when it looks like a place is hopping. otherwise, owners don't want to be reminded of it being slow nor do they wish that their customers realize that it is slow.

                              1. re: atomeyes

                                :(
                                Fair enough, tho I was just trying to be sympathetic… and hoping, for their sakes, for a "oh this is really unusual, normally we're packed…"

                                1. re: atomeyes

                                  I don't see how it's the same. If you mention that hairy mole, it does nothing. Mentioning a restaurant that appears to be slow and saying it's worth a visit can only help - I can't see how it would be bad. By the way, it turns out they are doing just fine.

                              2. Went in Tuesday at 7pm, no other diners were there. Only a couple of takeout orders and 2 dine-in customers while I was there. It's a shame, the food is delicious and prices are great! Hard to believe they don't even have a website.

                                We had the shrimp roti, chicken roti, banana fritters, fried plantian and johnny cakes. Standouts were the roti and banana fritters. For sides, stick with the sweet potato salad and coleslaw.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: danniii

                                  I picked up a shrimp roti and soup around 2 pm on Tuesday, and there were nine people eating in at that time, so it was the busiest I've ever seen it. I found out that even though it may look empty at times, they are fine.

                                  I had a beef/pumpkin soup and the shrimp roti. The soup was spicier than usual, and the roti was less spicy than in the past. In fact, the soup was hotter than the roti, but it was still all good.

                                  I don't order the coleslaw because I don't like that authentic Caribbean coleslaw with vanilla flavour in it!

                                2. Went back today and had the chicken pumpkin soup, chicken roti and vegetable roti (channa, potato, callaloo). All terrific, very flavourful and yummy!! I was struck by how different the flavours were between the two roti. They complemented each other well too.
                                  Thanks for the recs!
                                  PS The young woman was more upbeat about business, which has been picking up lately! ;)

                                  1. I have been twice now and agree the service is very friendly but can be slowish at times.

                                    the oxtail is very good and the jerk chicken is simply outstanding IMO

                                    1. Just did a double whammy of Simones and Von Doughnuts (hey it's my birthday). Got a veggie roti. Verdict: pretty good, bit too much potato. Lots of greens. I prefer the Ital Roti at Danforth Roti, and it's cheaper. Haven't tried the doughnuts yet (well, one of the kabobs - it tasted like a nice doughnut. No special flavours there).

                                      1. Had some jerk chicken and chicken roti today. To be honest I wasn't expecting much, as I tend to expect less from new places in the area but I was pleasantly surprised. Having chana instead of potatoes makes the roti so much better IMO. I thought it was better than my usual ali's in parkdale.

                                        Jerk chicken, I'm a devotee of Raps on Eglinton West. I like Raps better (and better value too, if you can believe that), however Simone's was pretty good still. Better than Beryl's Pepper Pot at Coxwell/Queen which I tried last week.

                                        I love coleslaw normally but did not like the vanilla taste in this one. The sweet potato salad was nice though
                                        I would like to try the shrimp Roti and some soups, and oxtail.

                                        1. YES! Love this place, been twice now plus a take out order! Excellent Jerk Chicken and prices are really reasonable ... when was the last time you saw a $1 item on a menu??? Did I mention they're really friendly too? Wish them luck in an unlucky spot.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: justinisthebest

                                            I was there last Friday around 7:00, and every table was taken. The prices all went up by roughly 25% about 6 weeks ago, but it's still a good deal.

                                          2. Went for dinner last night, had a nice meal, ordered basic jerk, BBQ chicken and some fried appetizers, nothing mind-blowing but everything was well-prepared. Servings are very generous even for the "small" portions.
                                            Wondering if anyone has tried the ackee here? I only ever had bad experiences of bitter ackee here in Toronto so I stopped ordering it.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: julesrules

                                              YES - the Ackee & Saltfish is soo good there. Buttery goodness with Johnny Cakes to sop up the juice.

                                              I am taking a break from this place though because we've been two Fridays in a row and both times it took an hour to get our food.

                                              While the food is great, I just cant justify waiting an hour for it.

                                              1. re: justinisthebest

                                                Order takeout like I do. I pick up the food 20 minutes after ordering, even on Fridays.