IF A SINGLE dish can define a restaurant, then for Chaud Creole it must be the corn soup.
This is not corn soup as you know it. This is corn soup broken down, post-modern style, analysed and reassembled into something fun, fresh and completely unexpected once plated in front of you. Corn soup purists everywhere may be slightly alarmed at this. But they have no reason to fear.
Here is a soup where the solid ingredients (silky dumplings, christophine, potato and vegetables) have been uprooted, revived through their exile and then re-introduced to the corny goodness. The vegetables were cooked separately, plated and then the corn-soup itself thrown over them like a ridiculously rich sauce. This allowed each ingredient to maintain its integrity; for flavours to pop in the maize stew and, thus, avoided the sometimes bland melding together that tends to happen in a long-gestating broth. It was absolute genius to have this dish unfold. Here was a traditional local dish, re-invented in a way that is not at all fussy but rather fun and that maintains the integrity of what corn soup is.
Chaud Creole's interior, at 6 Nook Avenue, St Ann's.
Chaud Creole has other good stuff (good fish dishes, competent local deserts such as pone and soupie) and is an interesting alternative to Chaud, its sister restaurant a few blocks away from the Savannah.
In a sense Chaud Creole is not doing anything new. It is doing something the better restaurants have been doing quietly for decades in this country: re-serving the traditional. But hopefully this new spot will remain a fixture and will deepen its range of local food.
Chaud Creole, 6 Nook Avenue, St Ann's. Call 621-2002. Open for dinner daily 6pm to 10.30 pm; lunch Monday to Saturday 11am to 3pm.
CHECK the Chaud Creole website here.
The interior of Buzo is done in the almost cliched severe minimalist style, but care was taken to give patrons pockets of intimacy that managed to delight
ANOTHER restaurant that is making a name for itself is Buzo, an Italian restaurant with a modern take, located at Woodford Street, Port-of-Spain. The most striking thing you notice about it is its space. The decor is severely minimalist in the almost cliched international style, but the arrangement of the seating areas, both indoor and outdoor, manages to create pockets of intimacy that make the restaurant actually seem warm.
Rosemary and salt pizza
The food is good, starting with the straightforward ciclista (thin-crust pizza with just rosemary and salt--no tomato sauce), served sliced and in a basket. I tried the saffron risotto, which was delightfully grainy, not clumpy, but yet smooth. There were some excellent sides: the lentils, soup, rosemary potatoes. Of the main courses the salmon was perfectly prepared, chicken stuffed with spinach was a given care and attention in terms of its balancing of proportion and texture that is notable.
Perfectly prepared pink salmon
The pastas got good reviews, though it is harder to say what stood out in this regard. Deserts were also good, but not daring. Clearly the chefs have decided to abide by the old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it"! This worked wonders for the panacotta, creme caramel and the gelato, all of which were served with pleasing relish.
All in all the dining experience was extremely pleasant; a friend pointed out that staff knew how to pronounce things on the menu, knew how to describe each item and were extremely courteous and never intrusive. Buon Appetito!
To reach Buzo call 223-2896.