Barely open seven weeks, Agrikol, the Haitian bar and restaurant from The Black Hoof's Jen Agg and Roland Jean, and Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, has garnered its first review. Thierry Daraize visits the Village hot spot for Le Journal de Montréal this week, and awards Agrikol two and a half stars on five.
It's rare to be won over the second you set foot in a restaurant, the critic begins. But while Daraize is transported and charmed by the remade Coo Rouge bar, he's less taken with Agrikol's food. Of that Haitian staple, griot, Daraize writes that a friend of his dinner companion "came to tell us after his meal that he was very disappointed. He took the opportunity to give me addresses of authentic Haitian cuisine [in Montreal]."
Accra fritters are made, to Daraize's dismay, not with salt cod, but with the traditional malanga (a fact the critic omits): "In fact, the taste is completely neutral, don't look for cod, there is none. Normally, the fritters are made with or without cod. I expected with. In short, disappointed!"
Oxtail with black bean sauce comes next. The meat is a bit firm, the critic observes, but the flavour is good. Braised goat with vegetables is overcooked, Daraize writes, and "not really identifiable." Sides (mayi moulen, similar to grits, and fried plantains) are described as bland and dry, and cashew chicken is "also too neutral." The meal ends with pain patate, a dessert deemed "too intrusively spiced," delicious macerated raisins aside.
The critic ends his largely unnuanced write-up with complimentary words for the service, drinks (the bar's Barbancourt bottle service, notably), music, and ambiance. These elements make Agrikol a pretty enchanting restaurant. The food, however, lags behind, Daraize concludes.