Get to know a street: Weston Road
Weston Road looks like one of those streets that's hasn't been touched in decades, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. OK--maybe it's a bit of a bad thing. But if you look past the peeling paint, occasional 'For Rent' signs, and unnecessary (?) abundance of beauty salons and corner stores, you'll find a neighbourhood rich with culture and appreciation for traditional food.
Weston Road south of Lawrence certainly has a Caribbean flair, while the area north of the intersection (also known as Weston Village) demonstrates a hybrid of Islamic, Caribbean, and other cultures, which is evident foremost through its restaurants, take-out spots, grocery stores, and more. Yes, it seems it's all about the food. So if you're looking for some great jerk chicken (or a place to buy a goat head) Weston Road may be your street. Here are some notable spots on Weston Road.
First Class Delites
From the outside, First Class Delites looks like it has seen better days. And indeed, the peeling letters and worn brick tell me it has. But the inside is a totally different story--soft taupe walls, sleek black tables, and little hints of Caribbean culture everywhere you look. Then I learn the restaurant was actually featured on Restaurant Makeover a few years back, though the menu, apparently, has pretty much stayed the same. Jerk chicken, oxtail, curry goat, and more, all proudly listed on a giant wall-mounted menu.
Starfish Caribbean Market
Starfish Caribbean Market has lots of fresh fish for sale and, uh, you can sort of tell when you walk in. In any case, the on-ice spread is immense and includes shrimp, mussels, whole fish and filets. Towards the back is the butcher section that has all the regular offerings, along with Caribbean specialties including goat leg and oxtail, along with buckets of salted pig tails that I quickly skirted by. The grocery section has many imported goods including ice cream called "Tropical Treat" and "Tropical Rhythms" drinks.
Ausef Halal has some sort of automated greeting that plays whenever its front door is opened. Of course, I don't speak the language, the muffle and battery drone made it extra hard to hear. But enough about the front door. Ausef Halal offers grocery and takeout, as well as freshly cut meat (Halal, naturally) and specialty items. From the takeout section, items such as shawarma, beef kebabs, and mantoo are regularly on the menu.
Golden Crisp Fish & Chips
Golden Crisp Fish & Chips is a Weston Road fixture and is poised to celebrate its 50th anniversary later this month. The restaurant looks as every good fish and chips shop should, with lots of nautical-themed decorations and framed pictures of life at sea. A regular halibut and chips will run you about $7.25, with haddock and Alaskan white also on the menu.
Femi's Place is a restaurant and lounge that invites you to "eat, drink, and chillax." As for the "eat," Femi's boasts that it serves "multicultural food," though much of the menu consists of Caribbean signatures such as roti and jerk chicken. The "chillax" comes in the form of live music, which is guaranteed every Saturday night for Femi's Afrodesiac Open Mic. Performances usually include music, poetry, and spoken word.
Greenland Farm Supermarket
Greenland Farm Supermarket is a huge Asian grocery store with lots of unique offerings you probably won't find at your local No Frills. Along with several types of bok choy, jackfruit, and Jamaican callaloo, Greenland Farm offers goat heads in its butcher section (someone tell Epic Meal Time), live catfish swimming in an aquarium in its fish section, and buckets of those damn salted pig tails that seem to follow me wherever I go on Weston Road. Impulse buys near the cash include women's yoga pants and bathroom mats.
Currently renovating its front entrance, Caplan's Appliances has been on Weston Road since the 1950's. Don't be mislead, however--this place is fully up-to-date with stainless steel appliances wherever you look. The business is family-owned and operated and actually includes three different stores in one general vicinity; the main designer showroom, the outlet showroom, plus a demonstration showroom where customers see the appliances in action. Who knew refrigerators could be so exciting?
Previously in this series:
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