Chef Creole restaurant chain has been a longtime local favorite for those craving authentic Caribbean food on the double, thanks to their menu filled with Haitian and Bahamian classics. It’s the vision of the founder and owner, local celebrity chef Wilkinson “Ken” Sejour, who was born in The Bahamas to Haitian parents. They now have five locations across Miami. Their Chef Creole North Miami location is fully outfitted for COVID-19 social distancing protocols with a speedy and efficient drive-thru and limited outdoor dining options. For my visit, I opted to eat at the tables outside. After considering a few choices, I was informed the chef had recommendations. So I abandoned my search and settled in for the fun.
The menu at Chef Creole North Miami has all the familiar favorites. Think griot (Haitian-style fried pork), oxtails, fried fish and a variety of flavored wings. I was offered a surf-and-turf medley featuring stewed conch, fried shrimp and oxtails.
Chef Creole’s stewed conch ― served with rice and beans, extra crunchy fried plantains and a fresh salad ― was a flavorful encounter. The conch meat was quite succulent and tender, unlike the typical spongy texture I find with most locally-served conch. Instead, this conch was almost flaky, presented in a creamy sauce of sautéed onions and herbs. The end result is a spicy, salty combination that pairs well with the starchy sides.
Their fried shrimp was done to golden brown perfection. Delicately battered, the shrimp dish offered a balanced array of seasonings that didn’t overwhelm the seafood flavor. It was served with fresh vegetables and a side of Haitian-style pikliz (pickled relish) that was the perfect dressing. Do note, however, that Chef Creole’s signature pikliz is extremely spicy. It should only be consumed with a cool drink close by.
If you’ve never had oxtails, I would certainly recommend that you start the journey right here. Chef Creole’s oxtails have the luscious texture of the best beef stew. However, don’t go for them if you are averse to an ample amount of fat in your meal. The extra richness makes these oxtails fall-off-the-bone fabulous, with the most exquisite blend of spices. The beefy flavor remains most prominent, yet the seasoning has its own identity and clearly stands out as the chef’s stamp of individuality. Depending on your palate, this dish may be a tad spicy, but it’s still manageable.
In all, Chef Creole gets an A for authenticity for all three dishes I sampled. It’s clear that Chef Ken has ensured his signature flavor is embedded in each selection. And while this is a fast casual dining establishment, the flavor profiles ensure total satisfaction, taking you on a delicious trip across the Caribbean Sea.