Niki Sarang was Hostess 'H' and she picked H for Haitian to be held on Nov 8th, 2008. The restaurant we went to is called Krik Krak (which as our waiter later explained to us was the Haitian equivalent of a Chicken's cry. My research though explains it differently. Apparently when Haitians tell a story, they ask "Krik?" to which eager listeners reply "Krak!". Definitely seems, like the more interesting explanation of the two, for sure.)
Krik Krak is a tiny 5-table restaurant, with huge paintings adorned on yellow walls ('cosy' is the word in Manhattan for this scale of space). It is located in the UWS neighborhood of Manhattan; between 101st and 102nd streets on Amsterdam Ave. The neighborhood is not the best in the city, which probably explains why this little place is a discovery of sorts.
Lets face it; few of us would have ever heard of this place, if not for Cuisine Club. What also made this place one-up for us was that it was BYOB, which is always a pleasure for wine-drinkers such as myself, as we get to bring our favorite wine to the table, for a very reasonable damage.
We were 5 of us in all; one vegetarian and the rest meat-eaters. I must admit, our vegetarian friend did have a few complaints and almost took off without eating, as he could sense a sharp 'fish' smell within the restaurant. After a lot of coaxing, he decided to stay and glance at the menu, to see if he had any options for the evening at all.
Although not many vegetarian options, Krik Krak did seem to have some vegetarian fare and we got a mix of it in our order for the night. The waiter was accommodating and incorporated all our special requests, as far as the vegetarian meal was concerned. Among the dishes brought to our table that night, were appetizers such as Akra De Malanga - Fried dumplings of malagna paste and original spices, which were a big hit at the table and we ordered another serving of the same. For the main course, I had Poultet Maison Chicken prepared in a homemade sizzling sauce, which was delicious and well-cooked; just the right amount. Some of us went the seafood way and had the Poission Creole -Whole red snapper, yellow tail or king fish prepared in herbal tomato sauce and the Filet De Poisson- Filet of sole or tilapia cooked with butter and garlic / shallot sauce with vegetable. Our vegetarian friend, as I mentioned before, hesitantly picked Legumes Maison Stew made with mixed vegetables and beef, in which he obviously asked for the beef and eggplant to be replaced with other vegetables. Surprisingly, his meal was quite tasty, or atleast thats what it seemed like when we saw his plate wiped clean at the end of the dinner. We had a big bottle of a Red Chilean Merlot to accompany our meal, which went well with most of the dishes. Some of us also had the Jus Lacaille - Juice (passion fruit, grape fruit, orange, lime) and enjoyed it. Of course, the staple plantains, rice and beans and salad (with a very interesting dressing) were served along with each meal as well. For dessert, we decided to give the Gateau Traditionel ( Le Bon Bonbon) - Haitian pound cake a try and did not regret our decision. It seemed like a desirably sweet end to an evening, filled with much laughter, jokes and silly talk.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this place to someone who is open to trying out a different cuisine in a different neighborhood of the city. I had never tried Haitian food before and while I did not leave thinking I would visit again, I certainly did have a good time. Being in the UWS, in the lower 100's it is kind of out of my way, which is the main reason I dont see myself heading back. But that does not mean the food or the service was sub standard. The waiter as I have mentioned was very accomodating, the ambience quaint and the food was good too. The prices are unbeatable and being a BYOB itself, makes it a winner in my books.
Thanks Niki for organising a fun Cuisine Club and taking us to a place and a cuisine neither of us had experienced before.
Looking forward to "I"....
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