Creole Cool in St. Henri

Opposing forces are at play in the cozy confines of the Creole restaurant Le Boucanier, the newest addition to trendy St. Henri: A pink and purple candy-striped exterior offsets a subdued pastel-coloured tropical landscape; log stools – they fashioned 12 out of the same tree trunk – force you to sit upright, while relaxing tunes on the stereo encourage light grooving; and on the menu, cool fruit juices douse fiery ragouts and gumbos.

The starkest contrast, however, is between Le Boucanier’s old location, at the bottom of Atwater, and its new digs in the bustling west end of Notre-Dame, where it has just recently set up shop.

“We definitely benefit from the foot traffic,” says manager Louis Henry, who runs Le Boucanier with owner Sandra Jean-Gilles. The alluring aromas emanating from the kitchen failed to reach car traffic in the condo-heavy ’hood near Atwater market, where the pair ploughed away for a year. “Here, we’re closer to the community,” adds Henry.

Of course, the reality is that most of Montreal’s Haitian community resides in the east end – and so do most restaurants specializing in the cuisine of former French Caribbean colonies. In fact, St. Henri’s growing artsy community has been largely deprived of French Caribbean cuisine. Which is why Le Boucanier – cooking up spicy beef or goat ragout, kalalou (okra gumbo), savoury bouillon, dirty rice and lots of plantains – is right at home.

Mains $6.99–$13.99, 4412 Notre-Dame W., 514-933-6356.

Image courtesy of massdistraction on Flickr.

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