Location: 104 Portland Street, Toronto
No, technically Chubby’s doesn’t qualify as a restaurant from Antigua and Barbuda. It’s Jamaican. It’s right there in the name.
But there are a bunch of tiny Caribbean countries, and for the purposes of this blog, compromises are going to have to be made. Jamaican cuisine is probably going to stand in for pretty much every country in that area, because Jamaican restaurants are everywhere. The rest of the Caribbean? Not so much.
Chubby’s is a bit of an odd one. It’s a far cry from the typical hole-in-the-wall Jamaican place you’re expecting, with a twee, hipster-friendly dining room that looks like it’s been scientifically engineered for social media appeal (and indeed, if you look up the restaurant on Instagram, there are far more twenty-somethings taking selfies than pictures of the food).
I was worried that the food might be an afterthought, but I tried a couple of things and they were both great.
First up: the saltfish fritters, which are lightly crispy on the outside, with a chewy texture that’s reminiscent of glutinous rice. True to its name it’s both salty and fishy, but not excessively so; it’s nicely balanced. The strong flavours are complimented well by the mango-lime-papaya salsa, which is sweet and surprisingly spicy.
I also tried the curry goat, which features a generous amount of fall-off-the-bone tender meat in a fragrant curry sauce. It comes with a side of rice and a small helping of sugary-sweet mango chutney. The chutney seems way too sweet at first, but it kind of has the same appeal as eating cranberry sauce with turkey. It grew on me.