Smoke n' Roti
Smoke n' Roti is all about jerk chicken grilled over a wood fire in full view of customers, and roti that's made fresh by hand every day.
The kitchen of the family-run Caribbean restaurant is headed up by matriarch Jennifer Hinkson who makes everything from hundreds of recipes she keeps in her head.
Candy-store-like colourful lettering beckons from the outside, and vibrant wall art by artist Katrina Canedo welcomes on the inside.
A jerk chicken dinner ($11.75) of what they call "chunkies" here (bone-in pieces) is served with your choice of plain rice or rice and peas.
Curry potato and channa as well as a sweet, fluffy festival dumpling round out an already generous meal. The jerk chicken is cooked over coconut charcoal and is marinated in a house jerk marinade tested out over the course of years.
It has a sweet heat that lingers and builds on the sides of the palate and back of the throat without overpowering, and the chicken itself is silky and moist. Up the heat factor with scratch Scotch Bonnet hot sauce.
Curry shrimp is available as a dinner ($13.95) or a portion ($16.99), marinated in Hinkson's bright, aromatic green sauce with culantro and other traditional Caribbean spices then cooked to order.
Dhalpuri, paratha and buss up shut roti skins ($2.50) are all available here, made to order by hand.
The dhalpuri roti contains a thin layer of split pea added by hand in a labour intensive process that starts when the first staff arrive and continues throughout the day.
The roti is mopped with oil on the griddle, flipped and patted with a wooden paddle so it's browned, warm and slightly crispy.
Boneless curry goat roti ($13.85) has a rich, deep flavour and pulls apart tenderly.
Potato and channa fill out the rest of the chewy, sturdy, tasty roti skin.
Doubles ($2.75) are smaller, with a thicker, chewier flatbread and a chickpea filling.
A "Double D" is a sort of secret menu item. A customer once ordered oxtail gravy on their double, and they liked the idea so much, they made a double topped with oxtail gravy, potato and their scratch chutneys.
Stew oxtail ($15.99) is marinated overnight in onion, garlic and Caribbean spices. The next morning oil and brown sugar are put into a big Dutch pot, then the oxtail is put in to stew.
Hinkson knows exactly when to stir, cover, and add liquid to the stew over four hours, until it's the perfect thin consistency. The result is fall-off-the-bone fatty meat with a very sweet taste.
Wash everything down with sweet fresh house sorrel ($3).