17th Ave · Curry · Restaurants

Simply Irie Cafe – Caribbean Cuisine

I’ve only tried Caribbean cuisine in Toronto. Toronto is such a great city for eating out, just due to the sheer number of restaurants and variety of cuisines. In Calgary, I’m unfamiliar with the Caribbean food scene, so I rely on the expertise of @Dianathefoodie and @foodiegyal7. For this post, let’s listen to “S&M” by Rihanna.

Dianethefoodie recommended Simply Irie Cafe for the oxtail stew and spicy shrimp. She said as a first-timer, I had to try the oxtail because it is the gateway for Caribbean food. She also mentioned that the beef patty is delicious but the goat patty is even better. She didn’t find a big difference in taste between the two patties and the beef version was a dollar cheaper. Pro tip – if you order online, first time customers receive a 10 percent discount.

Photo credit: @dianethefoodie

I ordered a Spicy Beef Patty ($5.25), a Goat Patty ($6.25), Jerk Chicken (16.95) and Oxtail Stew ($23.95). I had a minor issue with ordering, and for my troubles, the owner gave me a complimentary Ackee & Saltfish patty ($7.95). Completely unnecessary but I’m glad she did, because it is one of the best things I’ve eaten in 2021. I don’t think I would have tried ackee and saltfish unless someone recommended it to me.

When I left the restaurant, I noticed the heaviness of the bag. There was enough food for three people. When I got into our car, L commented on how good the food smelled.

The pastry in the patties is phenomenal. The patties look thin but when you bite into it, you can taste a million light, crisp layers. Each patty was still warm. The beef patty was the most mild in flavour whereas the goat had a noticeably stronger flavour and aroma. I loved the subtle saltiness of the fish. Out of the three, my favourite was the saltfish, followed by the goat and then the beef.

Our food was still piping hot. L liked how much meat was on the chicken. Judging from the size, Simply Irie uses big birds. The sauce was lovely, though I couldn’t pick out the seasoning and spices. Simply Irie version taste nothing like the jerk chicken I make at home. I’m a big fan of the peas and rice. I expected green peas but it turns out, “peas” is a Caribbean term to describe kidney beans or black eyed peas. The beans infused the rice with a homey earthiness.

Photo Credit: L

This was my first time trying oxtail stew. Stems of thyme were entangled among the glistening pieces of oxtail and potatoes. My container was filled with meaty chunks of tender meat. To me, oxtail taste like a hybrid between a beef rib and tendon. I liked nibbling around the bone to get to the gelatinous bits. The gravy was saucy, a little sweet, with a buttery aftertaste.

Photo credit: L

I thought the prices were very reasonable given the portions, quality, and location. I actually think the entrees at Simply Irie offer more value than some of their neighbouring restaurants on 17th Ave. When life gets back to normal, I would love to dine inside or out on their patio.

Give this restaurant a try. I’m already planning on order takeout again. I want to get the Spicy Shrimp ($23.95), Jerk Chicken Wings ($15.95), Chicken Soup ($9.99), and of course, more Jamaican patties. Hitting the Sauce gives Simply Irie two thumbs up.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Restaurants

Ricardo’s Hideaway – Date night

It was Friday night and I wanted to go out. Despite that night being the start of The Big Taste festival, a nine-day event of restaurant specials, I opted out. Though the reputable restaurants that participate in The Big Taste offer wicked value – a three-course meal for $20.00 and up, I don’t like the crowd and how crazy it gets. Having said that, I do have my eye on Model Milk and Workshop Kitchen and Culture. I’ll be heading to Workshop for lunch this week but I also want to try their dinner menu. Perhaps I can convince my friend Legal to skip lunch and go for dinner after work instead?

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I picked Ricardo’s Hideaway, as I visited previously with my friend Blondie and the food looked fantastic. L bumped into someone he knew from work – Roman. Kudos to Roman for the warm welcome and suggesting a delicious rum – Ron Abuelo (seven-year|Panama|$5.5). I love rum even more than tequila.

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The seven-year rum was smooth and sweet and reminded me of whisky. A nice way to toast to the night. We both opted for beers, as I spotted Banded Peak Chinook Saison and L wanted the Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. The Driftwood was really tasty – bright with notes of grapefruit and not too hoppy. I like that glasses are smaller, so the beer stays colder and fresher for longer.

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For food, we ordered cashews ($5), crab legs ($14) with melted butter, jerk chicken ($16), roti ($5) and rice and beans ($5). I noticed enough vegetarian items on the menu for my buddy Jaime.

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The cashews were warm and reminded me of Christmas. The seasoning had either cinnamon or nutmeg in it.

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The jerk marinaded crab legs were a delight to eat. We were provided with all the proper utensils to crack and pick the meat out. The crab was grilled and blackened, spicy and full of chunks of goodness.

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The highlight of our meal was the jerk chicken, which incidentally is my worst photo of the night. Next time my husband and I are going to order a full portion. The half order contained four succulent pieces of chicken.

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The chicken was garnished with cilantro, which I detest, but even that noxious herb couldn’t hide the fact this was an amazing bird. The skin was crunchy, the sticky sauce was spicy and sweet. The meat was top quality, juicy and white. If you go out for cheap wings, you’ll appreciate this bird. There’s no blueish veins or bruised meat. I’m willing to bet that before this chicken crossed the road to Ricardo, it led a happy life.

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The rice and beans tasted clean, a refreshing contrast to the flavour explosion from the chicken and crab. The beans didn’t have that nasty metallic taste and mushy texture you get from canned beans.

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The roti was fabulous. Flaky, light and buttery, it was the perfect vessel to wrap around the chicken. The roti came with herbed butter.

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I’ve been cutting down on my alcoholic intake, but the pina colada ($10) might undo all my healthy intentions. This drink brought me back to when I was 20 at my first all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Except Ricardo’s version is far superior – sweet from pineapple juice, creamy from coconut milk and boozy from rum. I remember why I avoid pina coladas. It goes down way too easy. And I’m better this little cocktail was packed with at least 450 calories.

L and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. The music was fun and tropical. The crowd wasn’t douchy. The environment was unlike the other bars and pubs along 17th Ave, it felt like I was transported to an island. Ricardo’s Hideaway gets two fat thumbs up from me and makes it as my top pick as Flavour of the Month. Yeah Boyyy!

Ricardo's Hideaway Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato