Charmaine's Place is a small take-out joint on a quiet stretch of Davenport, just east of Old Weston Road at Laughton Avenue. Co-owners Charmaine and Zephie, focus on serving the community hearty and healthy home cooked meals.
One step into their bright corner storefront and we're greeted by Charmaine who chats us up as she moves about her kitchen, preparing the day's specials. She explains that her menu changes weekly and draws inspiration from Zephie's roots in Jamaica and her Italian and German background.
Each day they prepare one or two fresh mains with a couple of options of veggies and starches as sides. Charmaine assured us that we picked a great day to stop by, as Saturday's jerk chicken and oxtail are her regular customers' favourites.
The chicken is prepped in a special jerk spice rub overnight, a mix they shuttle back from Jamaica after each visit. A medium serving ($8.95) comes with a tender and juicy chicken leg, atop their daily vegetable and carb dishes.
We paired the chicken with the mash potatoes (a thick and chunky mess which were perfect when soaked in the jerk sauce) and the daily veg of beets and swiss chard. Despite a rather large portion size, we weren't shy to pick out every last chunk of potato and make sure the chicken bones were clean.
The oxtail combo ($9.95) was also a hit. The mild spice was slow cooked into the meat, which fell right off the bone. Charmaine offers a hot sauce made of homegrown peppers which helped us kick up the spice on this dish. It was also paired with the swiss chard and beets atop Jamaican style rice and peas. This sloppy plate definitely lived up to the promise of homestyle comfort food.
If you're choosing to dine-in they have seating for six, but serve all dishes in standard styrofoam containers -- a bit frustrating for waste conscious consumers.
Charmaine also offers homemade pastries, Alternative Grounds espresso, and her restaurant is stocked with Jamaican patties from nearby bakeries.
Charmaine's place opened in August 2013 and has been busy serving the neighborhood locals ever since. She jokingly told us she's hit the nail on the single male diner with her primarily grab-and-go lunches and dinners, but I could see her outdoor patio filling up with families in the coming months.
Charmaine's Place is open Monday to Saturday noon to 8pm. Be sure to check their website to see what's being served up.
Photos by Marni Wolf