The Caribbean meets Asian soul food at Patois, a restaurant with a unique twist inspired by Chef Craig Wong’s Chinese-Jamaican heritage and perfectly reflective of Toronto’s diversity. As the restaurant explains, “Like Jamaica’s national language, “Patois” is the merging of great food ideas from various cultures, executed with respect for the ingredients.” It all comes together beautifully in the fun and eclectic space at 794 Dundas Street West, near Bathurst, an area which seems to be drawing more and more vibey restaurants.
After the dreariness of a Toronto February night, we started off with a custom-made hot toddy which really hit the spot. The feature cocktail was a whole coconut, with a side shot of Appleton Rum, which you could mix with the coconut water inside through a little metal funnel. Complete with a tiny umbrella, what screams fun in the tropical sun better than that? A small selection of wine and Canadian craft beers, plus of course Red Stripe, are also available.
The food at Patois is fantastic and our group loved everything we ate! The hint of Jamaican spice added that bit of edge to each dish. We started with a fresh Crunchy Chinese Salad, which was full of texture and bright colors. Next up the kimchi style perogie left us all wanting more… add bacon and sour cream, what’s not to love? We also tried the juicy jerk chicken, which was perfectly spiced. I wasn’t brave enough to try the green scotch bonnet sauce which accompanied it, as we were forewarned that it would be very spicy. My friends did try it, and I can assure you, it is not for the faint of heart! We also tried one of the dinner features, jerk chicken chow mein, and that was another winning dish. But we still saved the best for last, the $7 dessert feature was French Toast stuffed with cheesecake topped with mango and cream… Wow! For the three of us, this amount of food was perfect. Next time I would love to try The Whole Shebang for $99, which includes everything on the menu and serves 3 to 4 people. Our total bill for the above plus 5 drinks was $150 including tax and tip, which we thought was very reasonable.
The space is filled with bright colours and kitschy knick-knacks with a subtle pineapple theme. The crowd tends to run younger (under 40) and even though much of the menu is family style, the music and chatter is loud enough that you probably wouldn’t want to bring your kids at night. This is a great place for large groups, with special menus available and several big seating areas to accommodate, plus they take reservations which is always a bonus in the Toronto restaurant scene. Brunch is also served on Sunday’s. This was one of my best casual dining experiences in recent memory and I will be back soon for sure!