Rope In (2883 Dundas West, at Keele, 416-531-9401) Complete meals for $15, including all taxes, tip and a tonic. Average main $7. Open Monday to Saturday 11 am to 11 pm. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Unless you're a neighbourhood regular, you probably don't know this family takeout exists. It's even tough to track down using modern technology.
In December 2002, a Jamaican family took over a restaurant called Winark at Dovercourt and Bloor. They changed the name to Rope In but forgot to inform the peeps at Bell directory.
In December 2004 they relocated to the Junction. I stroll in past rows of plastic patio furniture up to the steam table/cash counter and yell out my order over the noise of the baseball game blaring on TV. Jerk chicken ($6.50) is juicy, with a subtle kick. Ackee and saltfish ($5) is a mellow yellow blend of salty and sweet that I could shovel in with abandon if I didn't detest fish bones.
Fried plantain ($1) is caramelized and tender. Chicken roti ($7) comes as a warming curried gravy clinging to plump pieces of chicken breast nestled in flat bread. The red snapper ($11), served with rice 'n' peas, its stunned mouth agape, is so dry it tastes like it washed up on shore and baked under a burning Caribbean sun for three days. If you crave a gustatory inferno, better ask for extra hot sauce.
While waiting for food, customers give me the lowdown on what drinks to give a man to "make his back strong," wink wink, giggle giggle. Neva-tyad ($5), a sparkling roots tonic, is the best bet. Another customer generously opens his own peanut punch ($3.50) to give me a taste. I barely notice the time it takes for my food to be packed up.
In true Jamaican style, it'll be ready "just now."