Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
When Agrikol shut down in 2020, the city's options for Haitian food became limited to mom-and-pop-type joints. While those certainly have their place and time, what Agrikol provided was a fun option with as much attention given to decor, vibe and drinks as to the kitchen.
This dearth did not last long however, as a few options sprouted up since that fateful year such as Kwizinn in Verdun and Pikliz in Saint-Henri. Tonight, I accepted an invitation to try the latter, which went through several iterations since 2019 – home kitchen, popup, café – before taking its final form this spring once it finally obtained its liquor license.
Quite possibly one of the smallest restaurants in town, you can expect some elbow rubbing at Pikliz. The 20-seater space – which was packed – is a hodgepodge of décor elements. Dangling vines and planters float above a room decorated with art, photographs and branded merchandise. The crowd is young, casual, diverse – very Saint-Henri – and clearly enjoying their Friday night here.
tagged: CLAUSTROPHOBIA ANYONE?
The restaurant's small stature is matched with an equally-minimal – but not lacking in anything – menu. Haitian staples are well represented from accras, fried plantains and macaroni to griot, kabrit and crawfish. As the name suggests, you will find pikliz – a pickled relish of carrot, cabbage, onion and hot pepper – added to several main dishes as a flavour enhancer.
Also on offer are two poutines and a selection of island-inspired cocktails and imported drinks. Portions are small-ish, which will allow one to sample many items as a sharing experience. For our invitation, we let our host choose everything for us, starting with refreshing glasses of hibiscus lemonade spiked with tequila.
Thin plantain chips accompanied a garlicky avocado as a starter, which was followed by a generous portion of slow-cooked then fried cubes of goat meat (kabrit). Those were a tad overcooked on the skin for my taste – but I understand that is how they are consumed in the motherland – and deliciously tender inside. Topped with the aforementioned pikliz, you will want to gnaw on them to the bone!
Side dishes of kale salad and banan pezé – fried plantain – were enjoyable, although I would have liked the latter softer on the inside. Finally, a bowl of rice ‘n' peas was beautifully perfumed and brought everything else together nicely.
tagged: GOOD FOR SHARING
More than a restaurant, Pikliz is a passion project by the Acacia brothers, who grew in Quebec with a Haitian background. In addition to feeding Montrealers, their goal with Pikliz is to share the richness of their culture through art, live music and events.
All signs point to them succeeding on the culinary front; dinner tonight was not only delicious for the most part, it also introduced us to new Haitian dishes. Besides the fun ambiance, they also score points for affordability. Granted we did not have to pay tonight, but our bill would have tallied up to $50 before drinks, tax and tip.
Where else can two people get away with just that these days?
Price per person: $26.75
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.