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Apr 5, 2014 01:27 PM

CHRIS JERK Caribbean Bistro - A GREAT NEW FIND in Scarborough!

Although I have eaten my fair share of Jerk Chicken, Rotis, Stewed Oxtail and King Fish, I do not in anyway claim to be knowledgeable about Caribbean cuisine nor am I an expert in Jamaican food. However, I do trust my palette and I know how to tell and when food tasted really good.

My son and I was in the vicinity of Birchmount and Huntingwood when we noticed a former Shawarma hole-in-the wall place has been transformed into a quaint little Caribbean Bistro. Curious to see what this new place has to offer, we popped in to pick up a take-out menu.

Noticing a modern stainless steel counter full of great looking fried fish and a black board offering items like " Garoupa Head and Crayfish Soup ", " Escovich Trinidad Lane Snapper", " Stewed Oxtail " and a range of BBQ Jerk Chicken dishes, we were compelled to get some take out food from this place.

For this first go around, we ordered a Jerk Chicken dinner combo, the Garoupa Head and Crayfish soup and a slice of 'Rum Cake' to go.

The flavor of the chicken was unlike any Jerk chicken I have tasted here in the GTA. It was sensational! Extremely delicious and complex with just the right amount of heat. I wish I had ordered an extra BBQ Jerk Chicken wings. Great to eat with tonight's NCAA Final Four ball game. The fresh fry Plantain was greaseless and the vegetables were perfectly timed.
BTW, No wonder the chicken was so special. Here's what printed on the back of the take-out menu:

" Chef Chris Great Grandmother, a native of Portland located on the east coast of Jamaica are known for creating the Famous Jerk Chicken Tradition that has now spread to the rest of the world. "!! Wow!! An 'Indiana Jones' moment!!

The " Grouper Head and Crayfish Soup " with Dumplings, Cassava, Okra, Pumpkin, Carrots, Fresh Herbs and Spice tasted like a well made 'Spicy Bouillabaisse'. Loaded with disintegrated fish meat, gelatine and diced vegetables, this soup was delicate yet intense with full of sweet fish and shellfish umami flavor. Ay $3.80 a bowl, it is another great steal following the 'Zuppa De Pesce' of 'Shiso Leaf' last week!

However, what captured the show were not the above but the 'To Die For' Rum Cake!! OMG!!! It was so @##$$%$^^ good!! Dense yet 'super' moist, not too sweet and full of White Wine, Spices and soaked with tons of Appleton Rum. One can really taste the Rum when bitten into the cake but its the slow evaporation and release of the alcohol inside the mouth that makes the whole eating sensation so enjoyable!! I took a bite in the car park and doubled back to buy another piece!! Ha!
Together with the Basque Cake of Bar Isabelle, this must be my favorite cakes in Toronto this year.

I'm already eying the menu for what to order during my return next week.

CHRIS JERK Caribbean Bistro
2570 Birchmount Road, Scarborough,
Ontario, MIT 2M5
Tel: 416-297-5375 (jerk)

{ By the way, there's also an authentic Mexican place in the same plaza by the name of "MEXICAN LINDA". Pretty good food as well. Very nice house made Tacos with ground beef or pulled pork - see photo. }

Love to see good neighborhood places springing up all over the place! Hope they have enough customer traffic to survive!!

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  1. hello charles. glad to see you loved it too. i posted about this place a few weeks ago on the scarborough gems thread. i fully agree with your take on the food. it's one of my favourite spots in north scarborough now and it gives me a reason to head out that way. the guys working there are so great too. the menu is more suited to a place downtown but i've passed by at lunchtime and it's packed with kids from the neighbouring high school so it looks like they are doing brisk business. hopefully they thrive.

    1 Reply
    1. re: barnes1852

      Yes! I forgot to mention the friendly and cheerful staff too!
      Good food + friendly service = Nice Combo!!

    2. This place sounds so legit Charles. What a refreshing change from the usual menu items you find.

      I grew up eating Fish Tea (Fish head soup) weekly, and it is not a usual staple on menu's. This is on my short list to try when I am back in TO.

      1. Your review is timely. We were at Mexico Lindo enjoying tacos and horchata and wondering if Chris Jerk was any good. We'll definitely try it out tomorrow and report back.

        11 Replies
        1. re: GoodGravy

          Don't forget that $3 Rum Cake!! Best value dessert in town! However, 'don't EAT and drive'!! Ha!! ( one bite and you know what I mean! )

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Turns out their FB page is wrong and they're not open on Sundays. Luckily, we were in the neighborhood last night so we stopped by and I was able to alert them to this faux pas, then ordered the quarter jerk chicken leg w/ rice & peas and veg, jerk chicken wings w/ rice & peas and slaw, and rum cake.

            The seasoning on the quarter chicken is spicy, but not overly so, nothing most people can't handle. The wings are spicy, but less hot and are actually sweeter. Gravy on the rice & peas livened them up, and the included veg was cooked to the right texture. And as mentioned, the rum in the rum cake is prominent, and probably why it's so moist.

            I wouldn't make a special trip out, but if I'm in the area, I wouldn't hesitate to go to Chris Jerk or Mexico Lindo a few doors down. As a special bonus, in between them is a tiny stinky tofu place.

            1. re: GoodGravy

              Yes, that's one of the more interesting plazas in the area. You have the stinky tofu place (Wei's). And now this jerk place.
              And from reading this thread, a Mexican place.
              If I remember correctly, there is a pho place as well. We found service a bit slow but food to be ok.
              And isn't this the same plaza where I read some reviews about the Greek/pizza place?
              Lots of diversity.

              1. re: caitlink

                I also heard the hole-in-the wall Chinese Wok-Hay place is pretty good as well. Kind of like Fantasy Kitchen of old?!

                1. re: caitlink

                  The Greek place is next door to Chris Jerk and supposedly has been there a long time. Some good choices for a small strip mall.

                  1. re: caitlink

                    Yes, the plaza is also home to Hunter's Pizza. A go to place for lunch with my coworkers. Very tasty souvlaki and greek salad for cheap. Total hole in the wall. But we go for the food, not the decor.

                    1. re: TheFoodTravelLover

                      "But we go for the food, not the decor."
                      Yea, TFTL!

                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                        there's also a semi-decent pho place in that strip mall.

                        1. re: barnes1852

                          Wow, a Jamaican, Mexican, Vietnamese, Greek and Chinese restaurant (plus stinky Tofu), all in one plaza! That's what I love about eating in Toronto!

                          1. re: barnes1852

                            been once and thought the food was pretty good. lineups may be due to their inability to turn tables quickly. pho places are usually pretty quick with orders...i think i was in and out just over an hour and we all ordered noodles in soup....

                            1. re: blitz

                              The one time we went to the Pho place, it took us 45 min to get our Pho. Overall meal took more than 90 minutes which is unusual for a vietnamese place. Unusually we are in and out within 30 minutes. The owner was apologetic but no discount offered :-) She just told us next time we should call ahead with our dine-in order (??).

                              Their menu is pretty interesting. They offer a lot of rolls or choices not available at other places. But we have not gone back.

              2. Charles you are always out and about finding gems! Cant wait to try it next time I'm out in Scarbs.

                1. My bro' Charles's post is worthy of a place from one of the French Islands, but this place is Jamaican. The food is good, solid grub and quite OK, but Chris ain't no spicemeister nor speismeister. Nothing to which I would object - that is to say too much fat, salt, or chili, etc. and quite reasonably priced. What I liked best were the fish soup and the interesting rum cake, the least the rice and beans which was quite plain. The jerk chicken had a bit of that authentic Eglinton Ave West chimney soot flavour; not bad but made me long for other and great chickens. A little heat in places in the cooking, I could handle it, which isn't saying much, but for me it overcame much of the other flavouring where it was used.
                  Good if you are in the area, but no need for a trip. Now, maybe if they were to put foie gras under the skin of the jerk chicken....

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                    'Foie Gras under the skin of the jerk chicken' - That's a good one VV!! $71??!!
                    Their 'Jerk Chicken Sharwama' IMO is fusion enough. With the Foie addition!! COOL!!!!

                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                      So Vinnie... do tell, where are the GREAT Jerk chicken joints? :-)

                      1. re: TorontoTips

                        I went because of Charles' post. I get to a jerk chicken place only every few years . It has been long, long since I had a good one and I don't think that the places are still open. I was not comparing jerk places, but was talking about chicken in general.
                        Please recommend. No soot please.