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"Taste of the Caribbean" fulfills dream of restaurant ownership for couple

Date: 11/15/2010

Nov. 15, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- The flag of Haiti flies proudly outside Springfield's newest restaurant -- Taste of the Caribbean -- and it reflects the cuisine offered by the eatery.

Taste of the Caribbean is the city's first Haitian restaurant and co-owner Daniel Cherival said it has been long time in the making.

Open for the past two months at 609 Page Bvld., Cherival said the reaction has been positive.

"It's been on my mind over 12 years now," he told Reminder Publications. Cherival has worked as a bus driver, a taxi driver and in nursing while he and his wife Marie thought about opening their own restaurant.

Marie does most of the cooking, but Daniel said with a smile, "I do my part."

He explained that, at first glance, one might think the food they serve is Puerto Rican, but he noted, "the tastes are different, way different."

Open for lunch and dinner, the menu features some American fare such as tuna and ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch and emphasizes the Haitian dishes for dinner.

Chicken, pork and beef are always on the menu, Daniel noted, and goat and fish are regularly featured. Goat is a staple of Haitian cuisine and Daniel said it is his personal favorite.

Roasted and fried chicken dishes are served with beans and rice prepared in the Haitian tradition, as well as plantains. Traditional Haitian soup is prepared on the Saturdays, he added.

Fresh ingredients are important to Daniel and Marie.

"We cook fresh food every day," he said, "We don't sell leftovers."

They also cook to a customer's taste he added.

Pikliz is also a popular side dish from the island, Daniel said. Resembling cole slaw, the prepared cabbage is hot and spicy. He explained that at their restaurant, he and his wife serve it on the side, but in Haiti, cooks use it in dishes as a seasoning.

Some authentic ingredients are difficult to come by and Daniel said he is seeking a reliable supplier for certain fish.

He said the Haitian population is growing in the area, with Haitians leaving larger cities and coming to Springfield to take advantage of less expensive real estate prices.

Taste of the Caribbean is open Monday through Saturday and has parking in the rear of the building.

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