Kizin Creole in the news
Haitian food isn't unlike that of other Caribbean islands, though there's certainly a strong French influence on it. In this case pâtés are flaky pockets of labor-intensive pâte feuilletée stuffed with beef, chicken, salt cod, or vegetables. Roast chicken is marinated in green onion, garlic, parsley, thyme, and red and yellow pepper—a creole master blend used in many dishes—and plated with a roux-based pepper sauce made with chicken stock. Legume de boeuf is a semisolid stew of minced beef, mashed cabbage, carrot, and chayote with an accent of shrimp or crab legs, meant to be eaten with red beans and rice or steamed white rice with sauce pois, a thin sauce of black beans. Haitian consommé isn't a clear broth but a hearty soup laden with goat meat, shrimp, dumplings, yams, plantains, carrots, and spinach; the traditional thick pumpkin soup brims with penne noodles, cabbage, carrots, and potato. Other Haitian classics include griot, deep-fried pork chunks served with crispy plantains and spicy habanero slaw, and cabrit creole, a currylike goat stew.
What Violette Adrien’s Rogers Park BYOB lacks in ambience it makes up for in deceptively simple Haitian dishes like braised goat with faint curry notes, incredibly tender roast chicken coated in sweet stewed onions and glistening hunks of fried pork perfect with a scorching hot sauce. The empanada-like pates (pronounced like the charcuterie) are specific to Haiti, and Violette has long been known in the local Haitian community for her way with the flaky dough, developing enough of a cult following that you’d be wise to verify some are coming out of the oven before making the trip.
POSTED: TUESDAY JUNE 21 2016
Focused on providing their guests with great real cuisine, they serve Haitian and West Indian food in a casual welcoming environment. From their Facebook page: Kizin Creole is not just a restaurant, it is also a community center where all ethnic groups are welcome, a museum to view incredible pieces of art from local Haitian artists and abroad, an embassy promoting the cultural heritage of Haiti. From their website: Haitian food is often compared with other Caribbean islands and classified together generally as "Caribbean" cuisine. However, Haiti maintains an independently unique flavor. Unlike its Spanish-influenced counterpart, the Dominican Republic, Haitian cuisine is based on Creole and French cooking styles. Strong pepper flavoring in many dishes also sets Haitian food apart from the other islands.
Chez Violette closed in January, but its replacement, Kizin Creole Restaurant, brings the island staples back. BY PENNY POLLACK AND GRAHAM MEYER
Kizin Creole Restaurant hopes to be serving Haitian dishes like Bannann Peze by Haitian Flag Day on May 18. New businesses such as Ward Eight, Sol Café, and Badou Senegalese have revitalized the stretch of West Howard Street near the end of the Red Line recently, bringing community-minded entrepreneurs to fill the empty storefronts. So when the Haitian restaurant Chez Violette closed January 31, it seemed like a step backward. Inside, however, a new owner, Daniel Desir, has been hard at work. He plans to rebrand as Kizin Creole Restaurant (2311 W. Howard St., 773-961-7275) and open in the next few weeks with tablecloths, servers, and new decor (but still Haitian cuisine). The goal is to open by May 18, Haitian Flag Day. Also taking some of the sting out of Chez Violette's closing, Kizin's website still lists the old place's chef/owner, Violetta Adrien, as the chef. "Violetta will be around, helping out," Desir says.
Kizin Creole 2311 W. Howard St., 773-961-7275 Housed in the former Chez Violette, Kizin Creole is the only restaurant specializing in Haitian cuisine in Chicago proper, according to owner/manager Daniel Desir. He opened Kizin Creole in May 2013. The previous restaurant was also a polling place. "They actually sent the application, the letter, in the mail, thinking the previous owner was still here. Then I just responded to it," Desir said of becoming a polling place. Haitian food has French and creole influences. The menu features a variety of stews, including vegetable, conch or goat; and fritays (fried meat and/or vegetables) options as well. The restaurant is BYOB. Dish to try after voting: Griyo (fried pork) entree ($12.50). It comes with a choice of rice, rice and beans, or black mushroom rice, and it's served with fried plantains and pikliz, which is a spicy slaw. "(Griyo is) pork cubes, pork shoulder a little bit spiced up," Desir said. "We also have rice and mushrooms, which is something really unique that a lot of people want to try it and see what it is because they've never seen a black rice before." The rice gets its color from the black, dried mushrooms used to prepare it.