Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sample the food and culture of Haiti at this Scarborough bakery

Every now and then I stumble across a place in my quest for unusual restaurants that is so removed from my day to day realities in downtown Toronto that I feel like I've travelled to some far-flung country. If you want a wonderful cultural experience, save yourself a plane ticket and head up to the St. Clair Bakery & La Belle Jacmelienne at 3545 St. Clair Ave. East at Kennedy in Scarborough (map below).
It turns out there's another bakery in Toronto called St. Clair Bakery near Old Weston Road. I haven't been there but I can guarantee you that it's nothing like the Scarborough place. Founded in 1957, the bakery specializes in Greek and Macedonian breads and pastries.

In 2009, Lukas Cineus Jr and Marie Claire, a native of Jacmel, Haiti, took over the shop. "We still make the same desserts and bread as before, but we've added a creole and Caribbean flavour," says Lukas.

On his business cards it says "Sakpasé, nou palé Kréol tou wi!" which is creole for "What's happening, we speak creole here also, yes!" (En français, "Qu'est-ce qui se passe, nous parlons créole aussi, oui.")

Some Greeks and Bulgarians come in looking for European coffee and pastries, but the main clientele are Haitians who come for take-out food. One Haitian customer picks up some baklava to go with his Haitian food. Compa, a sweet, mid-tempo Haitian musical style, plays through the speakers. 

There are no tables, but people sit by the windowsill chatting and eating bouillon kabrit—goat soup. This tasty soup is an usual mix of flavours—goat broth, large chunks of yellow yam, dumplings, carrots, watercress, parley, shallots. It's a nice comfort food with a spicy kick.

Bouillon kabrit is a tasty goat soup

The menu varies depending on when you come in, but if you're lucky, you might get to try a Haitian patty, which is made of flakey pastry and filled with chicken, beef or salt fish. Other specialties include rice made with djon djon, a type of mushroom native to Haiti.

Lukas shows off the fried fish
Rice and beans, plantain, grio and tassot

I got a order of grio (fried pork) and tassot (fried beef) to go. The pork was pure fat but the beef was nicely marinated. The plantain tasted quite different from plantain I've had before, as the Haitians cook it when it is still green, so it isn't sweet at all. It's a huge amount of food and it sells for around $8.

The bakery is open from 9am til 9pm, except for Sundays, when it closes around 6. But if you want Haitian food, don't come too early—2pm or later is your best bet. Don't come by if you're in a rush: It's more the kind of place where you hang out for a while, chatting with staff and customers while you wait for your food.

  • Share your own thoughts on St. Clair Bakery in the comments field below.
  • Follow Spice City Toronto on Twitter.
  • Recommend a place for Spice City to visit at SpiceCityTO @ gmail.com

View Larger Map
St. Clair Bakery & La Belle Jacmelienne on Urbanspoon


  1. Amazing blog! We should partner up for a post.

  2. Sounds good! Shoot me an email and we can plot.

  3. St. Clair Bakery is now closed. The great news is La Belle Jacmel restaurant and Bakery has moved next door into the Greek Fish & Chips restaurant. It is a larger spot with a DJ and liquor license.

  4. I forgot they have a facebook page.


  5. Thanks for the update David. I've seen the photos on their Facebook and I've been wondering what's going on up there. I hope to make it up there soon.