Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Le Petit Dakar

Address: 711 Douglas St.
Phone: (250) 380-3705
Price: ~$10 for a meal
Notes: Homestyle, Sengalese dishes packed with flavour

Le Petit Dakar opened up in the fall of 2011, just past the Crystal Gardens, across from the bus depot. The space is pretty small, mostly because the counter area is pretty dominant feeling. I suspect most of their traffic is take-away at lunch time, and there was plenty of outside seating in the sun on the day we visited (your mileage may vary!).

Our first visit was for a late-ish lunch at 1/1:30 on a Friday, and they were sold out of most everything by the time we place our orders, so add this to your list of "go early or go hungry" lunches. The menu is quite large, but apparently you can ask for a combo plate to let you sample the different options. You can see the colonial influence on the menu, especially with takes on beef bourguignon and risotto. Everything is made fresh and from scratch, and I loved the pride in the owners voice when she told us this. There are plenty of options for people with special dietary needs - plenty of dishes are gluten free and vegan. 

The table next to us was also trying the restaurant for the first time on my first visit, but unlike us (no prior experience with West-African cuisine) they had grown up eating the dishes. They were raving just as loudly as we were, and simultaneously comparing the restaurant to other African/Caribbean/Jamaican places in town. My favourite part of the conversation was "she does it right here, unlike some places where they try to make roti but don't know how to feel when it's right. You kind of have to grow up making it from when you are small. It's mom food."

July 12, 2012

Bissap & Ginger Juice
Bissap and Ginger Juice

My partner-in-food-and-life brought these out to us after I had already ordered - I totally missed them on the menu. The red one is "bissap" (sengalese for hibiscus). It was sweet and subtly flavoured, and went well with the spiciness of our food. The clearer one is ginger, and had tons of freshly-squeezed ginger flavour. It was lovely and refreshing, but didn't match as well as the hibiscus with the food (but I probably only noticed because I was comparing the two). There are often times when I'm wandering around downtown on a lazy sunny sunday and crave something cool and refreshing; now I know where to come!

Beef Samosas
Beef Samosas

The gossip on the internet was to try the yam samosas, but they were out for the day so I opted for the beef ones instead. Interestingly, there are no samosas posted on their menu, which makes me wonder what else is available. These arrived smaller than I was expecting, but they were also really cheap (I think $2.50 or $3 for two).

Chicken Curry
Chicken Curry

This was my partner-in-food-and-life's second choice - they were out of the mafe but the owner brought us out a little bit to share. Mafe is a peanut butter stew (peanut butter is apparently a large export of Sengal, so it is in much of the cuisine). We weren't sure how the peanut butter would work, but it was quite tasty and totally unlike anything I have ever tried before. I would totally try it next time. 

The chicken curry was excellent. Hard to pin down exactly what spices and flavours made it different from other styles of curry, but neither my tastebuds or the internet are being helpful! More research is required... but I don't want the food to fade from my memory before the post gets written...

Black-eyed Pea Ragout
Black Eye Peas Ragout

This dish was way spicier than I had anticipated, which in my books is Not a bad thing! The tomato base was nice and rich, and although I know there were other vegetables in there I was focused on the beans as the main texture. Again - difficult to place the spices, but I liked the heat. 

July 12, 2012
There was a little hiccup in our ordering (our order got lost between the till and the kitchen) but the owner was so friendly and chagrined and apologetic that we didn't mind at all. She literally came out 2 minutes after we had settled ourselves to apologize that we hadn't already received our food! Super fast service. Plus, as I said above we were pretty late in the lunch cycle and it was sunny outside, so it was all good.

Le Petit Dakar on Urbanspoon