Selasi’s Grill serves up flavourful food with a spicy bite
The day my wife and I ate at Selasi’s Grill was one of the last days of the polar vortex that hit us in early February, and it had actually warmed up to a balmy -17 degrees Celsius before taking the wind into account.
Even though Selasi’s Grill has opened their dining room to allow sit-in dining, we ordered take out. When we called ahead to order, there was a banging noise in the background, and the lady seemed preoccupied but friendly.
They offer Canadian pub-style food and west African food, resulting in a large menu that could cause questions about freshness and quality. Happily, that was not the case.
We ordered the jollof rice with chicken ($23.99), the beans and plantain with goat ($22.99), and Annie’s fried chicken dinner ($14.99).
Located in the former pub across the street from Commonwealth Stadium, Selasi’s Grill is in an excellent location, especially once professional football picks up again after the pandemic. But their parking lot is small, which could cause issues. Even during a cold snap and with limited dine-in service, I had to park down the street and walk, a good sign for business.
Three women stood behind the counter. When I walked up, one handed me my food, while another woman took my payment.
Annie’s fried chicken comes with waffle fries and a small container of coleslaw. The coleslaw was saucy and was nothing special. The waffle fries, my favourite style of fries, brought back memories of childhood. They were a very pleasant surprise. The fried chicken had a nicely spiced, light batter, but it didn’t travel well. By the time we got home, the batter had softened and separated from the chicken.
Normally fried chicken receives my full, undivided attention, but the smell of the jollof rice and the beans and plantain kept nagging at me. And when I placed my chicken down momentarily on a plate to scoop up some of the jollof rice, one of my cats grabbed the fried chicken before I could stop her.
Jollof rice is made with tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, rice, and traditionally either a habanero or Scotch Bonnet pepper for heat. The flavours mix together well and get absorbed into the rice, giving it a reddish-orange colour and such a fragrant scent that it made me forget that it was simply a rice dish. The chicken leg served with the jollof rice was grilled and similar to jerk chicken. It had crispy skin with moist meat, and I preferred this chicken over the fried chicken. It came with a few pieces of plantain on the side.
The beans were very flavourful and cooked to the point of being softened, without being mushy. They had fragrant spices with a slight heat that snuck up at the end of each bite. The plantain was starchy and firm and made a great backdrop for the beans. The goat was underwhelming, solely because the pieces we received were mostly bone. It added very little to the dish, and I would not have missed it if it wasn’t there.
I enjoyed the plantain so much that I wish I ordered an additional side of them.
It is rare that I stop eating a piece of fried chicken mid piece to eat a different dish. Not that it was bad; the other dishes were just that appealing. Jollof rice was my favourite, but the plantains would make for a great late-night snack. The food was a little pricey, but the portions were larger. I am going to give them 4.5 out of 5 forks.
Feature Image: A sample of food from Selasi’s Grill. From left to right: beans and plantains with goat, Annie’s fried chicken, and jollof rice with chicken. | Stephen Strand
8604 112 Ave