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Escaping to the islands this summer may be an unattainable dream, but you can still feel like you’re in the tropics with a visit to Chadon Beni. Opening at the end of June, the new spot promises to infuse Queen West with the sights, sounds and vibrant flavours of the Caribbean.
Named for culantro, cilantro’s more robust cousin and an herb commonly used in Caribbean cooking, Chadon Beni is owned and operated by Trinidadian expat Ross Milne. A successful nightclub and restaurant owner in Trinidad, Milne was forced to put plans on hold after arriving in Toronto in 2019, months before the pandemic took over.
Located at 936 Queen Street West, Chadon Beni is housed in the former County General spot. Milne signed the lease in May after months of waiting for the perfect spot. Sporting a new look, including a hand-painted mural by local artist and illustrator Ghazaleh Rastgar, the restaurant is already giving off genuinely tropical vibes.
"The food isn’t strictly Trinidadian," says Milne. Instead of relying too heavily on tradition, the menu of small plates will be “Caribbean-inspired.” Milne says that the food at Chadon Beni will lean heavily on ingredients common to Caribbean dishes, such as culantro, scotch bonnet peppers, mango, plantain, allspice and more combined with outside influences.
Milne plans to rotate the menu seasonally, keeping the focus on “clean, fresh tropical food.” From comfortably-spiced, citrus-heavy razor clam ceviche to tempura lobster tacos with grilled pineapple salsa, the menu promises a range of shareable dishes boasting bold, bright flavours.
House-made cocktails and desserts will also be served on the licensed patio and, eventually, inside.