Pholourie, Taste of Trinidad

My friends over at LTHForum beat me to the punch about Taste of Trinidad, a new spot in Rogers Park that brings the number of places in the city where you can access the food of Trinidad and Tobago up to precisely two. That the menus are almost identical might have something to do with the fact that Grand Boulevard’s excellent Cafe Trinidad is owned by the brother of ToT’s proprietor, according to Taco Scholar Titus Ruscitti. It’s hard to complain about the similarities since they’re about 17 miles apart.

Trini food draws upon African, Creole, Syrian, Lebanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and, predominantly, East Indian influences, and that’s no more evident than with the ubiquity of the roti, a burritolike street food that differs from the original subcontinental flatbread in that it is used to wrap a frequently ample amount of filling such as curried goat, jerk chicken, shrimp, or potatoes and chickpeas. At Taste of Trinidad, for anywhere between $7.50 to $9.25, you’ll find yourself confronting a goliath, whose girth and heft are barely undermined by it’s dainty watercress garnish. Apply some piercingly hot habanero-carrot hot sauce and commence tackling the big soft chunks of curried potato and chickpeas or the finely shredded jerk chicken.

Roti, Taste of Trinidad

Pholourie (here palori), are light, crispy fritters that have a creampuff or gougere-like texture, their slightly greasy richness is cut by sweet mango and tart green chandon beni (aka culantro) dipping sauces. A serving of eight goes a very reasonable $3.

Goat curry, Taste of Trinidad

The goat curry is a remarkable achievement of low-and-slow cooking that produces astonishingly tender bone-in chunks of caprid flesh on a bed of rice and peas, plantains, and stewed cabbage to the side ($8.25 for lunch portion, $12.95 for dinner).

There’s plenty more to explore on the menu which includes many West-Indian standards like macaroni pie (essentially mac ‘n’ cheese), curry crab and dumplings, curry chicken, jerk and curry salmon, curried stir-fries, and to drink, sorrel, ginger beer, and mauby, which may be the nonalcoholic Trini answer to Malort.

Weekends feature oxtails and doubles—chickpeas sandwiches built between two fried flat breads that rival the roti for their popularity on the island.

Taste of Trinidad

Taste of Trinidad, 2045 W. Howard, 872-806-2115