By Chanua Johnson
Nu Woman is happy to introduce a new section on restaurants around the Caribbean, with an added bonus; a restaurant review! Our first piece in this section is by Chanua Johnson, from Trinidad, who also writes for TrinidadReviews.com.
On Dimache Gras (Carnival Sunday), my first visit to Chaud Creole in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad to dine turned into a Chaud Creole take out lunch and us having carnival lunch on the Queens Park Savannah. This was not bad but was not what I expected because I was excited about dining in and experiencing Chaud Creole to the fullest.
Soon enough though, it was Sunday again and we were planning a family lunch outing, which is a frequent family activity as we enjoy sharing time together while dining out. We were faced with the same challenge: deciding where to eat. None of us had yet dined in at Chaud Creole, so the decision to return was easy.
Having visited Chaud Creole previously on Carnival Sunday, I can say that there seems to be consistency, at least on Sundays, in terms of the atmosphere, the cleanliness, and the very welcoming, open, and naturally lit interior.
The layout was the same as before: a main area where the various dishes were laid out buffet style; a bar room with a wide range of desserts, a small selection of fresh fruit, a coffee/tea table; and the dining areas. We were seated by a very pleasant hostess and awaited our waitress.
After chatting for a while, we placed our orders. For drinks, we ordered four waters, three still and one sparkling. The option of Fonti Bauda for water was fine, as there was no local bottled water available. We also ordered three glasses of juice; it was “fresh juice” according to our waitress. However, after the first sip of the juice, I became somewhat disappointed to notice what seems to be a trend with the “fresh juices” at local restaurants. After being fooled a couple times though, we asked a few direct questions prior to placing our drink order: Is it fresh? (“Yes” was the waitress’ answer.) Does it have sugar added? (She answered, “No”). So we agreed to try them and ordered a glass of tamarind juice and two glasses of orange juice, only to be served sweetened juice, which was nowhere near freshly prepared! Oh my! I was starting to wonder if it was a misunderstanding; perhaps local “fresh juice” actually means “freshly poured” juice.
We were invited to serve ourselves lunch from the buffet; I loaded my first of several plates and planned to return to enjoy the many meat options. The meal was nice but was nothing spectacular. It was similar to good “Trini” Sunday cooking. I was unable to return for my intended meat plate as I was stuffed.
After a few laughs and some hot tea and necessary coffee topped with some sweet treats, we ended our meal.
Earlier this year, I embarked on a search for my favourite à la carte Sunday lunch mainly because eating out on Sundays is almost always a decision among many buffet options. I am not a fan of buffets or menu specials because I am often weary whether the meal is freshly prepared and not yesterdays leftovers refixed. I will share my take on ‘Eating Sunday Lunch Out’ soon.
My experience at Chaud Creole, as well as input from recent restaurant reviews, has inspired a few more review criteria on our local review site, TrinidadReviews.com. To the four original criteria (food, service, value/price, and ambiance), we have added location, parking, friendly/knowledgeable staff, food options, non-alcoholic beverage options, alcoholic beverage options, freshness of vegetables, opening hours, bathroom up-keep, payment system, wait for service, wait for food and wait for bill.
The Trinidad Review team has visited this establishment fewer than three times, and hence this review is not necessarily a complete assessment of the consistency of Chaud Creole but represents a snap shot of our dining experience; our philosophy is that solid conclusions about an establishment’s strengths and weakness should only be based on at least three different visits.
So, about Chaud Creole!! What do I think? Chaud Creole offers excellent, tasty local cuisine, but they’re very pricey for local food that I can probably cook myself; well let me be honest, it’s local food that I can’t cook, but I can certainly find it at a family member’s home, or perhaps at a neighbourhood restaurant. At TT$300.00 per person for a buffet brunch plus additional charges for drinks that are not included in the basic lunch, I have come to the conclusion that for now I have had enough of Chaud Creole on Sundays. However at TT300.00, I believe they are comparably priced with other local buffet lunches of this calibre. I am curious to visit on a weekday when they offer à la carte dinner, and I plan to do so soon with one of my “partners in crime”, who has yet to visit this local spot. So until next time…
This story was published in Nu Woman magazine’s Spring 2013 issue. © 2013 Nu Woman Magazine.