Address and hours: O’Connor and Laurier, and they’re very good at keeping their Street Food app info up-to-date
Green factor: Styrofoam containers, plastic utensils; no waste bins on site
After nearly two years of living in Ottawa, and another two making frequent visits, I’ve become acquainted with a lot of the food trucks in the city, especially those that are located more centrally. As such, I was happy to find out that The Caribbean Cruiser (which had been previously set up on Merivale near Baseline) had won the bid for one the city’s too-few food truck locations, at O’Connor and Laurier.
With my wife working downtown for the summer, it made for a good excuse for a lunch date on a sunny weekday when I was off work. The sizable truck is painted with a very chill beach scenery, and had some lively reggae tunes playing when we rolled up with ample appetites.
The menu in the window displayed a handful of options – curried chicken or goat, and jerk chicken, which were each available as a plate or a roti wrap, as well as a veggie plate and their jerk chicken poutine. As much as I’d have liked to see how they pulled off the jerk chicken poutine, I went for the plate instead, while my wife got the veggie plate.
After a short wait, we had our food in hand and went to one of the nearby tables, which was very convenient since downtown/Centretown isn’t the best for public seating.
My jerk chicken plate ($14) was comprised of a drumstick and thigh, generously doused in a thick jerk sauce, on a carb-tastic pile of rice, with sides of coleslaw and plantain fries. The jerk sauce was rich and complex, and had a significant, lingering burn that was hot but not overwhelming.
I loved that the meat itself was incredibly tender and juicy, as a lot of jerk and/or grilled chicken from Caribbean places, while incredibly flavourful, is overcooked. Not here! I would have liked a little more char from the grill, but this was still excellent chicken.
The rice was tender but firm, with added flavour and texture from some beans, and made for a great delivery vehicle for all of that extra jerk sauce.
The coleslaw was a fairly basic slaw of red and green cabbage, and shredded carrot, lightly dressed in a creamy dressing. It wasn’t particularly memorable, but it helped cut through the heat of the jerk chicken, and wasn’t that terrifying neon green stuff that KFC passes off as coleslaw.
My wife and I are both big fans of fried plantains in all of their forms, and we really liked Caribbean Cruiser’s. These thick cut fries come lightly seasoned and fried, but aren’t sauced at all, so it’s just the crispy outside, and creamy, lightly sweet interior. Caribbean Cruiser should sell containers of just these!
My wife’s veggie plate ($12) was basically the same, except there was no slaw, and in the place of my jerk chicken there was curried sweet potato and chick peas. The braised veggies were packed with flavour and had similar levels of spice as the jerk sauce. It was a big portion size for the price, and like any good partner, I finished what my other half didn’t have the room for.
The only thing better than the initial excitement of trying a new-to-me food truck is finding one that does what they do as well as Caribbean Cruiser does. With friendly service, and delicious food, downtown Ottawa and its hungry denizens are all the better off for Caribbean Cruiser’s new locale.