The menu at Deadfish Cafe is chef/owner Robin Maharaj’s culinary biography, he says.
If that’s true, then he’s lived a very exciting, adventurous and daring life.
Born in Winnipeg into a Trinidadian family, Maharaj’s food at the 50-seat Osborne Village restaurant spans the globe.
His menu boasts an eclectic menagerie of delicious dishes, many with spicy hints of the Caribbean throughout.
The setting, food and servers all exude a quirky exuberance. But don’t mistake whimsy for nonchalance.
Food is innovative, interesting and consistently marvellous. Cumin and cilantro are Maharaj’s touchstone spice and herb, and flavour many of his meals. Despite that favouritism, he creates unique flavour profiles in different dishes.
The casual restaurant is decorated with vibrant, original paintings and a multi-coloured upright piano. A fish tank sits in one corner, while comfy leather sofas sprawl in the lounge.
For a fresh start, try the lettuce wraps, which are served with crisp, easy-to-wrap vegetables stir fried with hints of soy and honey. The accompanying hot-flash inducing jerk chicken, with habanero chilis, smoky cumin and coriander, make this Asia/Caribbean combo hearty and filling.
Soy-glazed arctic char, a frequent dinner special, delivers delicate and divine flavour. The sweet and salty glaze, peppered with red chilli flakes, offers gentle warmth without overpowering the subtle char.
A hoisin-infused basmati rice stir fry with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and onions complement the meal, bringing yin and yang.
Dressed with ribbons of fresh basil and shaved Parmesan cheese, spaghetti with Manitoba veal and pork meatballs is an instant classic. The robust and ripe tomato sauce is simple and well executed with whispers of basil and oregano.
An melty ode to cheese, the pollo piccanti pizza boasts heaps of feta and mozzarella with grilled chicken and pineapple on an extra crispy, thin-crust.
Maharaj’s salute to an eclectic life continues with creamy and gently spiced cardamom cheesecake with warm chocolate sauce. Forks can’t resist the hunt for oozing chocolate treasure buried inside moist banana bread pudding presented on a dreamy pool of caramel.
Deadfish Cafe is open Mon. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5 p.m.–11 p.m.; Tues.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.–1 a.m.; Sat. 3 p.m.–1 a.m.
1-167 Osborne St.