Miss Likklemore's is an upscale Caribbean-inspired Toronto restaurant that’s the brick-and-mortar home of a hot West Queen West lockdown-era pop-up.
Murdock shares that many of the dishes on the flavour-forward menu are based on family recipes. Tapping into her Jamaican roots and those of her extended Caribbean family, the refined dishes aren't only finessed in presentation, but also incorporate global flavours and spices.
"It's not just a Jamaican restaurant," said Murdock who is still the chief innovation officer at her meal prep company, Meels. "I wanted to make sure I had something from every island so that everyone feels welcomed.
"This is a lot more work but way more fun creatively," she continues. "I get to see people's reactions right away. To meet someone who enjoys the food, music, décor and how it all comes together is really nice."
She's collaborated with Scale Hospitality's corporate executive chef Ted Corrado and corporate chef Zach Albertson to create a family-style menu filled with food that's unapologetically bold.
That upkeep in punchy flavours includes a tasting of homemade hot sauces that range from mild serrano to tastes-like-fire Trinidad Scorpion peppers.
Injected with nostalgia, my experience exploring the regional and sub-regional West Indian flavours coming from the kitchen begins with the Likkle Patties ($16). Stuffed with braised oxtail and spicy beef, the dainty hand pies are served with a fermented mango hot sauce.
Tossed in a Caribbean pepper aioli, the Fried Rock Shrimp ($22) sports a light and delightful batter. The crowd-pleasing share plate is reminiscent of the dish the team has come across in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.
The Nuff Nuff Slaw ($21) boasts of 21 seasonal ingredients which currently features compressed pear, jicama and green mango all tossed in a papaya vinaigrette. Christened with shredded fried taro chips, peanuts and edible flowers, the captivating course is best enjoyed when everything is mixed together.
Since I'm big into texture, I found the crunch from the taro chip against the crisp and springy pear, plus toothsome bites of shredded root vegetables like radish, carrot, and kohlrabi quite pleasing. It also helped quell any residual heat from the hot sauces I liberally doused on my food.
A nod to the Caribbeans and their flavours, the Sea Bream Crudo ($21) is a light appetizer that's livened up with charred pineapple, pineapple ponzu, sesame seeds and olive oil.
Fried Madai Snapper (MP) is an impressive beast that arrives at the table deboned with a side of escovitch and a citrus relish. It's here that thick fillets of sea bream hide beneath a fine potato starch crust that crumbles to reveal the tender, mild and sweet fish within.
I'm all over the Slow Braised Oxtail ($65) – a fancified version of the rustic dish that surrounds two meaty hunks of oxtail with spinners (dumplings).
Instead of a mess of braised butter beans, Murdock places quaint dollops of the creamy legumes on the finessed dish, which can be eaten with the sticky, rich meat or mixed into the unctuous sauce.
Miss Edna's Jerk Chicken ($35/half; $70/whole) is brined for 48-hours, marinated, and then grilled. It's served with jerk chicken jus made from chicken drippings. Murdock follows her grandmother's recipe (minus the soy), including the use of scotch bonnet peppers. It's delicious.
There's also the impressive four-inch-tall Mac Pie ($19). The monster wedge is made using a proprietary cheese blend including cheddar and mozzarella. The share-encouraged side comes on a creamy pepper sauce that's spiked with a hot sauce made by Murdock's sister-in-law.
Not one table ever misses ordering Miss Paula's Carrot Cake ($18). This is a household staple and is based on Hinds' mother's recipe. Served whole, the moist and tender cake is blanketed with cream cheese frosting with candied ginger and walnut crumble.
Rejoice Sunday brunch revellers. Miss Likklemore's premium remix of Sunday brunch is slated to launch later this fall.
To pair with the elevated cuisine, there's a carefully curated international wine list that includes a selection of super splurgy celebratory finds (Cristal, anyone?). But my attention is drawn to the collection of rums amassed behind Miss Likklemore's bar.
Rum aficionados would be thrilled with this one-stop-shop that features a 100-plus catalogue of the Caribbean's finest rums from Antigua to Barbados, Montserrat and beyond (think Denmark, Fiji, and India).
Those who are into crafted cocktails would enjoy the robust selection of original drinks including the Sweet Ting ($19) that's made with Grey Goose vodka, Pierre Ferrand curaçao, watermelon and lime juice.
Using Johnnie Walker Red Label, Mr. Frontin' ($17) is inspired by Scale's Trinidadian-born regional director of operations, Sean Baillie's, grandfather. Made also with lemon juice, agave nectar and coconut water, the refreshing beverage is topped with Angostura bitters and a shower of shredded coconut.
Fruity and fun, the Island Frank ($16) uses Bombay bramble gin and ting. It's also the nickname for Hinds' alternative persona that's rumoured to appear when the typically reserved co-founder has one too many drinks when visiting Trinidad and Tobago.
The visually captivating Tiki-inspired Electric Avenue ($18) is an easy-to-drink number that's made with Ketel One vodka, blue curaçao, lemon juice and ginger beer.
Block Plan Studios was behind the inviting room's design. The former Labora room has been transformed into a luxe space beaming with rustic Caribbean elegance.
Filled with rich and warm details, this is where lush leathers and velvets mingle with rattan and wicker.
In addition to brass hardware and copper antique light fixtures, the room is lined with forest green or wine accent wood wall panelling and weathered herringbone wood flooring.
Look up to find an incredible collection of art that's been sourced from the islands.
Commissioned pieces include the tribute to Edna at the front entrance stairs (there is an accessible entrance for those requiring an alternative).
There is seating for 64 divided among tables, banquettes, bar seats and an eight to ten-person private dining room.