Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
My introduction to Caribbean food was at a bygone hole in the wall in N.D.G. named Bonne Bouffe de Jamaïque, circa 2004. I instantly fell in love with this spicy, tropical cuisine and have since tried a handful of other restaurants – including in Jamaica itself. Sitting at the top of this heap is Côte-Saint-Paul's Seasoned Dreams, pioneer of the now-famous jerk chicken poutine.
A longtime player in this space is Lloydie's, named for its founder Lloyd Tull. After two decades of operating as a Jamaican patty supplier for supermarkets, Mr. Tull – along with his son – took a crack at the restaurant business in 2017 by opening a bricks-and-mortar outfit in Mile-End. The group shortly followed that with a downtown location on Crescent Street last summer.
Stepping into Lloydie's on a Tuesday night, my friend and I were impressed with the packed dining room. A huge group of youngsters was eating up all the space and oxygen by talking loudly, playing dominos, and standing up for long stretches of time. Luckily for us, the boisterous crowd – a student association from nearby Concordia University – left soon after, giving us a chance to appreciate the splendid space.
The interior was done in a humorous spirit. A hodgepodge of styles – wood paneling and brick walls – combine with funny cultural references – scattered patois expressions and plastic-wrapped sofas/stool seats! – resulting in a lovable, conceptual look. The island vibe is complete with a rum bar and reggae/dancehall tracks blasting in the background.
Prominent on Lloydie's menu are quintessential West Indian meats such as jerk chicken and oxtail; available in plate and sandwich format, or as poutine toppings. There are also a couple of vegetarian options and side dishes, including salads and those signature patties. Rounding up the offering are Caribbean beers and basic rum-based cocktails; with a more elaborate and whimsical list served on Thursday nights.
Leaving the choice of orders to our hosts, we were treated generously to a smorgasbord of mains, sides and drinks – not all pictured below. Cocktails were a tad low on alcohol but the gripes stop there. The jerk was finger-lickingly fragrant and the oxtail a pleasure to gnaw into; while the must-order beef patty was perfectly flaky and spicy. And if one wanted to control the level of heat, the assortment of dipping sauces provided will do the trick.
tagged: ORIGINAL DRINKS
From the fresh concept and original setting to the exotic island flavours and affordable price tag, there is so much to love about Lloydie's. Seasoned Dreams is still my favorite for Caribbean, but this newcomer comes in close second; earning itself a spot on my Current Crush list.
For decades known as a tourist and non-foodie trap, a wind of change has recently blown on this stretch of Crescent Street. Big-box restaurants are slowly making way for the new face of this famous promenade; consisting of a blend of notable brand names such as Nespresso and Le Creuset, along with local operations such as Mandy's and now Lloydie's. Tings are lookin' up…
Price per person: $16.50
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.