Have you ever had someone rave about how great a restaurant was, only to try it and be disappointed? Yup, I can relate too.
If you love eating, you likely fall into one of two categories:
i) Everything tastes good to you, as long as it’s food OR
ii) Your standards are higher, and you expect a level of tastiness to consider a meal enjoyable.
I fall into the latter category. If that also applies to you, finding a restaurant that meets this criteria is important, especially if you’re spending a good amount on a meal. Whether it’s for a date, birthday celebration or giving an out-of-town guest a taste of Toronto cuisine, you would want the food to taste good.
“Like most Torontonians, blogTO is probably one of the first sites you check to validate the accuracy of the reviews you see on Yelp. However, I’ve noticed that blogTO tends to state that EVERYTHING tastes amazing! Who does that help exactly?.”
As a third culture kid (TCK), I have a global palate! What that means is that, if I’ve had a better recipe of a food anywhere else, my expectation tends to be higher. With regards to Jamaican restaurants, Toronto is filled with multitude of options and this can make things confusing! Like most Torontonians, blogTO is probably one of the first sites you check to validate the accuracy of the reviews you see on Yelp. However, I’ve noticed that blogTO tends to believe EVERYTHING tastes amazing! Who does that help exactly?
So to resolve this conundrum, I tried meals from the following 5 Jamaican restaurants/spots (when I still ate meat) and below is my honest review of each of each.
Some factors that may have contributed to my experience include the location/branch, frequency of visits and the food choice. I will be basing my review on one or both of two popular meals: Jerk chicken and Goat curry and a snack (patties). In my opinion if a restaurant doesn’t get any of these two meals or snack right, then I can’t recommend them.
Jamaican restaurants + reviews
1. Allwyn’s (Yonge)
Food: Jerk Chicken with rice and peas
Address: 4750 Yonge St Unit 135, Toronto, ON M3N 0J6
Review: I placed this order on UberEats after reading a few positive reviews on Yelp. The jerk chicken was severely burnt and it made the food bitter. I had to take off the skin so I could enjoy the meal. The rice and peas was indescribable! It had a flavor I couldn’t place but it was unpalatable. I had to add Maggi seasoning and some spicy sauce (did not need it to be spicy) to mask that taste. Plus it was one of those days when I was very hungry so there was no way I was going to consider throwing it away and wasting my money.
Food: Jerk Chicken + rice and peas + coleslaw
Address: 1720 Eglinton Ave W, York, ON M6E 2H5
Review: This is one of the best jerk chicken meals I’ve tried so far! The chicken was well cooked, not burnt and juicy. You can always ask for more gravy to be added when ordering from Uber Eats or in person, if that’s your style. So far, I’ve had this meal from this restaurant at least 7 times (it needed to be tested and tried for reproducibility)! I’m only giving this a 4.5 rating because the coleslaw was a bit too dry for me. So whenever I order this, I always add a bit of mayo and other condiments to bring the coleslaw to life. Otherwise, it’s a place you definitely want to try out!
Food: Goat curry + Rice & Peas + Garden salad
Review: I had to try another meal to ensure that the tastiness of the jerk chicken could be applicable to most options on the menu. Alas, this turned out to also be one of the best goat curries I’ve tried so far in Toronto! Great amount of gravy to meat ratio, and the curry mix cooked well with the meat as opposed to feeling separated or powdery in your mouth. If you know, you know. The first time I went to the restaurant (Uber Eats regular), I asked the owner if I could come over for some cooking lessons if I shared some Nigerian stew recipes with her. Still working on securing that secret recipe!
Food: Jerk chicken + rice and peas
Address: 1943 Avenue Rd, North York, ON M5M 4A2
Review: This was an ok meal. The jerk chicken wasn’t burnt but it tasted dry. Overall, the meal did not meet the expectation or the reviews the restaurant had on Yelp. If I have to add my own seasoning to make a food taste better, then it needs to be rated accurately.
Food: Goat curry + rice (plus Jerk chicken)
Address: 104 Portland St, Toronto, ON M5V 2N2
Review: I stumbled upon this restaurant by accident in person (pre-COVID). Visited twice – the second time I recommended the spot for my farewell party and went there with my coworkers. Everyone enjoyed their meals! Food wise, I tried the goat curry on both occasions but split the jerk chicken with a coworker on the second visit. The goat curry was very tasty and well cooked with the spices. On my second visit, the goat curry was a tad salty, hence the 4.5 rating.
On the other hand, the jerk chicken, as well as the ackee and saltfish were well seasoned and well cooked. In addition, the ambience in the restaurant was very classy – so this is definitely a great date spot! Plus the have a patio – very COVID friendly!
Food: 1/2 dozen Patties (beef, chicken and veggies)
Address: 1569 Eglinton Ave W, York, ON M6E 2G9
Review: There’s always a long line in front of Randy’s Patties such that any passerby will be curious to check it out. In addition, it has also been frequented by famous Canadian basketball player Tristan Thompson as being one of the best patty joints in Toronto. I disagree and here are my reasons.
Beef: This was spicy and well seasoned but not evenly spread across – 4/5
Chicken: My least favorite. It was too spicy that it almost took away from the taste of the patties. Note that as a Nigerian, this is medium spicy level for me that I can handle, but it defeated the purpose of savoring the taste of the patties. The flavor of the scotch bonnet overpowered everything else and there wasn’t enough chicken in the filling – 3.5/5
Veggies: This was spicy and well seasoned but not evenly spread across – 4/5
Although the fillings were well seasoned, I noticed that there was more broth than meat in them. Overall, the crusts were too brittle, and I found that it’s best to eat the patties warm (not scorching hot) to really enjoy it – otherwise, they are too runny (broth-like vs meaty)
Let me know your thoughts when you visit any of these spots 🙂