Monday, July 13, 2009
From the outside, Abistro doesn't look like much. But inside the inauspicious 154 Carlton Avenue entrance is a tiny, hip restaurant. We went on Saturday, and at a friend's suggestion, ordered Senegalese Fried Chicken.
This little dish had about a million flavors, and was perfectly cooked and spiced. The chicken comes layered on top of a pineapple-jasmine rice and kale, and is topped with "Senegalese salsa," which is, I think, a deconstruction of yassa, because it's a cold, limey onion sauce. The chicken isn't exactly what you'd expect fried chicken to be, but it is lightly breaded and fried, and while it was a tiny bit dry, the sauce (a creamy dijon) and "side dishes" more than made up for that. The salsa was a little spicey, which played perfectly off the very sweet rice and the perfectly cooked, perfectly flavored, perfectly perfect kale.
It is pricey ($23 for the fried chicken), but it is BYOB, so you can save some money there. I've heard that the (nonalcoholic) mixed drinks are fantastic, but we were trying to save a little money, so we didn't get any. The service was very good and everyone was very friendly, and the decor was stark. They played good, if loud, music and the whole thing made for a nice date.
The complexity of flavors was amazing, and I might list this as one of my Top Ten Meals, if I didn't have such a hard time with that sort of thing. I honestly believe that when I die, I will be greeted with a bowl of that kale in heaven.
A little nota bene: this isn't traditional Senegalese food in the least, and if you're searching for that, your best bets are Joloff or Africa Kine, both of which are fantastic if you like Senegalese cooking. Le Grand Dakar is also good, but slightly more fusion-y than Joloff or Africa Kine.