Agrikol —A Taste of Haiti in the Village!
Behind a pink-lit white door and down some old 1930s twisting wooden steps inside an unmistakable white house, is not a house, it’s a little taste of Haiti with BIG social impact. Based on their cultural work and involvement to raise funds for the Haitian community since 2005, Agrikol’s owners Regine Chassagne and Will Butler can proudly say that the place successfully brings unity within the Montreal community.
For this year’s edition of Montréal en Lumière, the chefs get honours
I met with Agrikol’s chef Paul Harry Toussaint and his good friend and guest, Bahamas-born, U.S. raised chef of Haitian origin, Jean Jouvens. Both were excited about their five-course family brunch created in the spirit of Haitian authentic cuisine. Bon bagay which means ¨good things¨ in Creole is written in big red letters right across the kitchen wall and being prepared and served in a timely manner.
The art-filled two storey restaurant was founded on a partnership with Jen Agg and the Haitian-born Roland Jean (who’s paintings are displayed there). Look no further than that easy-to-spot little white house on Amherst street. The warm atmosphere, music, food, and Barbancourt rhum ¨koktels¨ feel like you are spending time in Port-au-Prince.
The 1 pm brunch service was slightly delayed with reason, the party had started, musicians were jamming, and people did not want to leave. Very understandably as we would find out. The charming Kessie came to greet us and assigned us a table on the second floor. You can’t help but notice Creole poetry on the staircase that leads you there. Such a great view of what is going on downstairs and you cannot miss the beautiful chandelier – I am told Regine has painted all the details on it.
Small and long tables are positioned along the light green walls where Naïve art paintings are hanging. Small cans of Lait de noix de Coco with sparkling silverware are placed on each table.
The brunch is a family meal and plates are meant to be shared simply in a cool way. Here’s to a taste of Haiti :)
First, we were served a thick and delicious soup with tender chunks of beef, root vegetables and noodles. Followed by a crispy spring salad with fresh cranberries, and pieces of mangos sprinkled on top with bits of sweet potatoes chips. A tall glass of Haitian-style rhum ti-ponch, consisting of crushed ice, Barbancourt rhum, sugar syrop, lime and orange juice was perfect to emphasize the citrus flavors of the two dishes.
And two beautiful plates of semi-spicy grilled chicken, well-seasoned griots flavoured with pineapple, which I am told is a national meal with a taste of pineapple, sticky rice, breaded polenta, accra fritters with fried banana plantains.
With the music of Boukan Ginen playing in the background, Kessie brought us a plate of grilled octopus, shrimps, and cod cooked with haïtian spices, accompanied with mini crêpes with finely chopped red peppers, and onions topped with small eggs. This was my favorite dish and i will come back for it.
To conclude, a beautiful plate of custard-filled pastries ourres and choco and sugar pancakes with its rhum koktel on crushed ice, mint, and lime. Plezi!
There are several ways to travel, eating at Agrikol is one of them. And the staff is the diamonds that made Agrikol shine.
Curious about other Montréal en Lumières foodie finds? Let the science of foodism begin! Labo Culinaire FOODLAB
C.C. means creativity and confidence. Partly working as a translator, C.C. is enjoying journalistic retirement. Finally, travelling and writing around the globe are on the table!