Coco Banana ( 1690 Danforth, at Coxwell, 416-406-0534) Complete meals for $25 per person, including all taxes, tip and a domestic beer. Average main $10. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 10 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNN
Billing itself as home of the "cre ole cuisine of the French Caribbean," affable Henry and Cecille Pierre-Gerome's Coco Banana is not only Toronto's sole Haitian restaurant but also the classiest Caribe cantina in town. That's no difficult task considering that most have the atmosphere of a fluorescent-lit bomb shelter. Here, tables set by a striped banquette come covered in burgundy linen topped with goblets and matching napkins, while out back there's a terrific tented backyard patio/garden where the couple grow herbs.
Spicing is significantly mellower than that found at its island cousins. Jerk chicken comes lashed with fresh thyme and shredded in the house club sandwich ($5.50 with salad) or stuffed alongside cubed potato 'n' carrot in a somewhat dry curried gravy in a dhalpoori roti ($6.99 small/$7.99 large). It's rolled cylindrically into the bargain.
But perhaps what best sets Coco Banana apart from the competition is its Creole Roti ($4.99/$5.99), a deconstructed wrap that sees a deliciously warm bowl of puréed callaloo, carrots and avocado paired with an unfolded 18-inch roti. Tear off a piece, dunk it into the sweetly stewed veggies and experience the most genteel roti in town.