A week ago, I went to a Dominican restaurant in my neighbourhood. With such a lasting impression the restaurant had left on me, I wondered if there was any representation from the other side of the island, that being some Haitian restaurant in Chicago. Well, well, well, in my old neighbourhood of Roger Park, there is. That, of course, meant that I had to see what they had on their menu. That also meant having to get up early because I had to drive to the location and I knew that traffic would be unfriendly if I had left home close to noon.
As luck would have it, traffic was horrendous, period. The weather was nice and everyone was out — in their cars, as opposed to being pedestrian and enjoying the good weather. That was fine. I arrived at Kizin Creole Restaurant at 2311 W. Howard Street before the crowd. And, yes, there was a crowd that came in shortly after I had placed my order. While sinking my teeth into a flaky pastry of a chicken patty, there were two large communion parties that came in and went towards the back where the party rooms were. Families were dressed vaingloriously, including the little Damians and Rhodas that commenced to have a run of the place once the elders of the families had taken their seats.
My appetite was up to its usual antics. So, in addition to the chicken patty, I ordered plantains. These were not the cutesy thick pieces cut with the roundness of quarters. These had been sliced lengthwise, fried, and highlighted with a hint of salt. Happiness, pure happiness was all that I could think of while I started on the plantains.
And then the main entrée arrived — baked chicken with rice and beans. Forget the pescatarian diet, I said to myself. The chicken had been baked to proper tenderness and being able to taste the spicy cloves in the recipe was too much. I had to pause, lest I broke out into an opera aria to declare how much I had fallen in love with those the two drumsticks that came to the table. The rice and beans were equally outstanding. Whether the Haitians in the kitchen cooked the rice in coconut milk, which I am absolutely sure they did, I didn’t leave anything on the plate except for my napkin.
Kizin Creole Restaurant is authentic Haitian food. For those who are decor auditors, forget about what’s on the walls, in the ceilings, and the plastic wrapping on the tables. Just sit and listen to the Haitians switch between Creole, French, and English. One thing that I shall warn you about is timing of your food. Kizin Creole Restaurant is not like TGIFriday’s, Chili’s, Applebees, McDonald’s, Burger King, and the like. Your food does not come to the table immediately after you place your order because everything is prepared to order. And understanding Caribbeans, expect a strong casual atmosphere. Service is not dismissive. We Caribbeans simply let people enjoy their food and their time without the annoying hovering every five minutes asking if everything is okay. Be prepared to be blown away with good food, superb service, and a price that will scream at you to return again. Then you can tell me sak ap fèt.