This little hidden gem in the depths of Scarborough was pretty hard to find. When I say hidden, it doesn’t show up on Google maps and the little strip mall where Silvie’s is located has no signage to indicate that Silvie’s is there.
Silvie’s is definitely not a high end establishment. Typical West Indian roti shop, with spartan walls, a couple Soca/Chutney flyers for upcoming concerts and hand written menu on the wall.
One thing that will be strange to non “Trinis” will be the act of asking if they have something. Hence if they have doubles and Curried Beef on the menu, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will have it on the menu. This is typical of West Indian places – just because something is written on the menu, doesn’t mean that it is actually going to be served that day. Get in the habit of asking if something is available without any actual assumption of availability.
In true West Indian style … the Sunday special of Salted fish with Tomatoes was not available … on a goddamn SUNDAY!! (see bottom right hand side of the picture for Sunday’s specials)
The general details : There isn’t a high number of vegetarian options – I would attribute this to low turnover. As Silvie’s is a bit hidden away, it doesn’t have the popularity of a Mona’s or Barb’s .. but for a Guyanese owned roti shop, it definitely has a very tasty roti and curry. There is a small menu, which is a good sign, since there doesn’t seem to be a huge level of foot traffic – so they would cook and make everything daily. The customer service was very good and Silvie’s Trini friend who was at the counter was friendly and chatty, yet once she served us, she didn’t linger on the front – this I like, since it is typical of what you would get in Trinidad. People lingering around you, construes eavesdropping. They also provided knives and forks – I’m not impressed by this, since roti is hand food – but my partner was impressed – hence it rates a mention. There is a table and a counter to eat at and enjoy your roti on the spot. On particular impressive item was the COLD Sodas.
Roti is something that requires a really, really cold soda (Red or Banana Solo preferably). At most roti shops in Toronto, they will serve a pathetic, half-assed bottle of soda. It’s as though owners think we don’t notice these things. I absolutely hate a semi-cold bottle of soda with my roti – in fact, it will affect my enjoyment and decrease a ranking by 10 points. At Silvie’s, you can get fresh mauby or sorrel (“beastly cold” … to the point that there is ice in the drink) or a soda (again really, really cold).
1. Roti: (37/45 points)
On our visit, we found that the roti skin was freshly made and more importantly, tasted like it was freshly made. Unlike other places, it didn’t reek of unwrapped plastic or other foreign scents. The roti skin was large and allowed typical eating i.e. opening out the roti skin and breaking off pieces from the outside to sop up the tasty curry inside.
However, the roti skin did show one mark of heavy handedness, and this would probably have to do with a Guyanese woman making the roti skin versus a Trini woman making the roti skin, since it is something I have noticed. The overall roti skin was bit thicker than normal and unevenly cooked in places, but this was to compensate for the over filling of the roti skin with split peas.
The quantity of ground split peas left over after eating the roti skin (shown above) is far too much and while some diners might like the extra split peas, it doesn’t add to overall flavour of the roti skin. This would be something that Silvie should fix – add less split peas and gain more in terms of a thinner, silkier roti skin.
2. Curry: (46/55 points)
We sampled a chicken and a beef roti and both were extremely good. Our visits were around lunch time on a weekend. As for the curried chicken/potato, the combination was good, the chicken was well cooked, with enough curry and colour to it.. The curried potatoes were decent with a balanced taste, consistency, it was not spicy at all, but it wasn’t bland either, with enough geera (cumin) in the curry mixture. Geera is essential in the curry powder mixture as it gives that warm, nutty flavour and aroma. This is a bit surprising to me, since Guyanese curry tends to be a lot heavier with too much geera and the addition of Garam Masala powder – which overpowers everything.
The curried beef was excellent in that it had a balanced taste, hints of fresh seasoning (Culantro/Chadon Beni), good color and consistency. Even the cut of beef used in the curry was a good cut – not too stringy or fatty. Both curries were heated up on the stove and served blisteringly hot – which is another excellent mark – something to look for. Overall, both the curries (chicken and beef) and potato were excellent.
3. Condiments: (10/20 points)
Trinidadian food is all about the condiments. The reason that doubles aren’t as good in Toronto, is simply because no doubles shop in Toronto will have 5 or more different chutneys (Hot Mango, Sweet Mango, Tamarind, Pommecythere, Chadon Beni aka Green sauce, Kutchela, etc) on demand.
Silvie’s has pepper sauce for roti, and I was offered without having to ask for it. However, as the shop is Guyanese owned, there was no kutchela (“Guyanese don’t have mango – only rice land – so how will they know about Kutchela” not my words, but my Trini server’s words .. nuff said)
4. Overall: (18/20 points)
The overall presentation of the rotis that we got at Silvie’s was good. They serve a decent roti with a very tasty and excellent curry and good meat. If you don’t live in the east end (Scarborough and environs), it is a trek to get out to Silvie’s .. from my downtown-ish location, it was about 35 mins for a $6 dish. The bill for two people for two rotis and soft drinks (Diet Coke and Red Solo) was $15.09 – which is an excellent price point.
Hence a composite score of all factor, standardized to a score out of 100%
A score of 85% for a roti is excellent. Overall, this was much better than I expected. So it is definitely a recommendation if you’re looking for a excellent roti, that provides a bellyfull at a very reasonable price point. I would definitely go out of my way to try a beef or chicken roti then and I’m definitely going back to try the Shrimp roti, even though I am probably setting up myself for disappointment – Curried Shrimp is probably the most nuanced West Indian curry dish to make. Silvie’s is definitely “roti-run” approved!!!
- Location: 2586 Birchmount Rd.,Toronto, Ont. M1T 2M5
- Telephone: (416)-292-8779
- Store Hours: MON – SAT 10:00am – 9:00pm | SUN 11am – 3pm
- Website : Silvie Roti Shop
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