Where in Barbados has the best Roti? Which place do you avoid like the plague and why? Bajan Reporter looks at a number of eateries

Let’s say you’re a visitor, or you decide to have something other than a home cooked meal and you are trying a roti for the first time… What do you do? Read this article carefully, by the time you finish reading it, two of the dissed establishments may have put a contract on me, LOL!

A quick BTW for all visitors here – rotis are meant to be eaten in the pastry shell like a burrito, please, don’t skin it back and add hotsauce or ketchup – no matter how awful it is there are roti condiments and we’ll get into that as the review progresses…

I can do like Pull-Push and and hit one of those IANA… (I Am Not A – ) disclaimers, but I do not see the need, everyone must eat and if anything? Everyone has the right to assess what’s best for them!

I am looking at no less than five places, most have been attended more than once for an accurate assessment – if not, it will be explained why.

Worst and first up is Curry King in Wildey, went there once and the experience was such that I really don’t feel like returning. This tale may seem racial in relating it, but I am trusting that most folk with brains will understand what I am trying to say – they had a young Indian girl as a cashier…

I saw they had green banana and so I asked her if there’s any saltfish, was told no – I can’t hack green banana unless souse or saltfish is nearby so I thanked her for that tidbit and selected an all-beef roti and please put kuchela in it…

WHAT’S THAT?” was put to me in total shock, I mean how do you NOT know what that is? She then added if I wanted achar, but I emphasised kuchela and it was the black manager who promised to buy some as I was the 4th person to ask for it, he also seemed rather embarrassed that the girl had no idea what that essential spice was.

I saw the gal head to the kitchen to ask the older chefs what it was, and to my amazement they did not know either – to me, it’s like if a Scotsperson did not know what haggis is made of, y’know?

But it eventually dawned on me from the way they spoke that these ppl are true Bajans – not Hindus nor Indians, but ppl probably more Bajan than I am and therefore I was the one who spoke the strange tongue.

It was still unsettling, but this was not why I wouldn’t bother heading back to Curry King, it is due to the quality of their rotis!

When I sat down to this thing from Curry King, the meat was soft yes, BUT NO FLAVOUR! There was this yellow watery fluid that was insinuating to be some relative of gravy and the dough was waxy and lifeless.

Chefette is fourth in the ranks – nearly nine dollars for a roti that can fit easily in the palm of your hand. The flavour is inconsistent. Sometimes it is bland, other occasions it can be too peppery (as in black pepper) and far too few is it seasoned just right.

The pastry can either be too thick or so thin that if you breathe on it it will start to shred. Apart from that, unpleasant staff seem to be more prevalent than helpful and diligent workers.

Staff at Big John’s are always nice, but their rotis are not the same from when they started – originally, you had an option of either dhal or regular flour shells. Now, it is only flour pastry and the quality of that is what I consider to be limp paper. Also they use too much geera and it makes it bitter. So, they’re third, but first place is a tie and each for very good reasons…

IV Play Deli at Sheraton is great for so many qualifications – staff have excellent manners; you see what they’re putting in your roti; they use gloves; they’re generous in the proportions and you can basically create your own style of filling. Buy a drink along with it as lunch and it is a little over ten dollars and yet you are so full you can sometimes skip dinner!

Also tying at top spot is Indian Grill – Curry In a Hurry! This popular eatery on Bay Street near the Yacht Club has a wide variety of roti… Pork; Lamb; Saltfish & Okra; Shrimp; Beef; Chicken or even Liver & Gizzards (my favorite)! The skin is always dhal, the service is rapid without loss of quality and if you eat there, they have a basin {Curry Wash-Up} for you to wash up before and after the meal.

The price depends on the style you crave – Shrimp is the most expensive at $14.95 Bds but Beef or Liver & Gizzard are the least expensive at $8.95, plus – when you done eat? You have to resist asking for a hammock for a piece of shuteye thereafter!

14 Responses

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  1. Ian, I’m surprised Ackee Tree didn’t make your list. They are up there with IV Play and Indian Grill in my books. A bit more expensive, but nicest interior of the group. Also the staff is super friendly.

  2. I left out Ackee Tree for a number of reasons;-

    * They ARE damn expensive

    * I have nvr been there because of the pricing

  3. Actually I’ll admit I’m a bit spoilt here in Toronto with so many authentic roti places although I’ll say not all of them are good, esom of them pretty poor too. but I do like IVplay. Excellent Rotis and the service is nice.

    I must say back in the late 80s I loved me a cheffette roti but i noticed they changed over the years. got smaller, less meat, more potato sometimes not fully cooked, curry got weak and sometimes what passed for beef was really just beef fat. Like who wants a fat and potato roti?

    Surprised that you found someplace worse than they are though. wow.

  4. Ackee Tree is very expensive and their size roti is small. The taste is nice but not worth the price when there is Indian Grill around. Though I have noticed that Indian Grill has made their roti size smaller and with the changing of staff over the years it has lacked some consistency. Though when veteran staff are making them it is just right.

    I haven’t been to IV Play Deli in years as I found theirs got expensive and they were holding back on the flavour. I’ve never been to Big John’s and I doubt I will anytime soon. Same goes for Curry King.

    As for Chefette I have to seriously wonder what Rihanna sees in what they do, as I can’t call it a roti. To do so would insult many cultures that make the wonderful dish. Plus I notice their was no mention of it but Chefette’s staff lacks the understanding of what customer service is. I blame The owners for not keeping them in check and doing proper training.

  5. AirBourne I have been to the Ackee Tree & you are right, they are expensive but I am not going to let $1 to $1.50 in difference stop me.

    The staff is very knowledgeable, the owners are always there to address any management question and the facility is always very clean and well presented.

    It is indeed a professional approach to a culinary delight that is so sadly lacking on the south coast when a local product is placed at a reasonable price & well presented.

    With reference the size of the roti, I can agree but had to asky why it was that way since its start up days.

    Now remember that the price of flour & gas to name a few have increased and the owners contacted a number of there customers with an online survey asking for direction on this matter as to if to increase the price or reduce the size & maintain price.

    No one wants to spend more so they (Ackee Tree) did the responsible thing — maintain price.

    I have enjoyed many a meal at the Ackee Tree and it is indeed a pleasure to be a regular customer knowing the origins and the extreme difficulty they had their last location in Dayrell’s Road and the road construction fiasco but with strong support from a very loyal customer base came through it with some dignity.

    It is easy to sit by and criticize especially as you haven’t been in. I am sure that should decide that you are worthy enough to make a true assessment you would dine at the Ackee Tree & come to the conclusion that you do indeed get a far superior service there than you do at any other comparable establishment.

    Chefette, IV Deli, Big Johns & Indian Grill do not offer the atmosphere or the product knowledge that the Ackee Tree does for me.

    AirBourne & Grundy … I’ll pass this information on to the owners as they are very responsive to customers perception & expectations.

    Kevin … you know a good deal!

  6. This is an old topic now, please see current rvw on Ackee Tree, read ’em & weep!

  7. airbourne …
    where is the current review?

  8. Click on “The Bajan Reporter” at top of page

  9. I agree that the Indian Grill is de bess! IV Play comes a close second and Ackee Tree is not yet in de running.

    Nuff Sense

  10. I luv Iv Play Deli rotis.

  11. Right on AirBourne Indian Grill or IV Play Deli all the way.
    Let me just say i’ve tasted roti from Ackee Tree and i didn’t enjoy it at all.
    To me it didn’t have that great authentic roti taste and that is why i never returned.

  12. Let me tell ya … I have been to Ackee Tree and I am still very happy with the quality.
    They have even made it into the Zagat rating and came out with top ratings.
    I don’t know about you guys, but Ackee Tree has their act together and the rotis are outstanding!

    Keep it up Ackee Tree.

  13. i had an awful experience at Ackee tree. I want there with my friend who was from sweden (we were dating) and he had met the owner a few days before without me. i should say that i was completely ignored by the owner. he deferred to my friend in terms of asking what we both wanted to order and ignored me. only when my friend introduced me did he grudgingly acknowledge my prescence. he came to the table to ask how the meal was and looked past me to my date. i never felt more invisible (i am black). I wanted to say something but as it was my friend’s last day on the island i didn’t want to spoil it. i was really disappointed with the service and have not been back since. i would like them to remember that as much as they would like to think not they are not white either (the wife is trinidadian) and should treat us all with respect.

  14. you sound more upset about the fact that you are black and perhaps ugly … lol.

    lol, I wouldn't read too much into it as I too am black & my wife is not & we have never been mistreated or became invisible & have sent many of our friends who are also black & never became invisible either.

    The food & service is great.


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