Caribbean flavours get big boost at small café
Hidden gems are few and far between, but I think I may have found one in Purple Hibiscus. It’s an unlikely gem — a small café tucked into one little corner of the St. Boniface Hotel, seating a mere 24 indoors, and 24 more on the sidewalk patio. At the moment, the interior is quite plain but, although it’s been open for a few months, it’s still a work in progress, and plans include some colourful art work and Caribbean artifacts on the avocado green walls.
The short lunch menu is available all day, and lists a few rotis — fresh, house-made dalpourie (layered with crushed split peas) rolled with curried chicken, beef, shrimp or veggies — as well as burgers and such sandwiches as barbecued pulled pork and jerk pork or chicken ($5.95 to $8.95). There are a few small sides, not all them available on my visit but the roasted tomato, green beans and fried plantain were good, especially the silky, sweet slices of plantain ($1.50 to $1.95).
From what I could see in the open kitchen, the cooking seems to be a one-woman show, run by owner-cook Ave (pronounced a-vee) Dinzey — an impressive performance since, although she has done some catering in the past, this is her first restaurant. She is passionate about, and has an deep understanding of flavours — true, most Caribbean cooking is flavourful, but her seasonings seem to have a wider and more complex range than most.