Restaurant review: Chubby's Jamaican Kitchen

At Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen traditional Caribbean eats get a trendy, fresh update in a cool converted Victorian home on Portland Street.

What’s the vibe

A massive gut reno has transformed an unassuming Victorian home on Portland Street into a truly unique Jamaican restaurant with plenty of character. You can still see remnants of wall and roof studs, helping to define the dining spaces that span over two floors.

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Tropical-print wallpaper, colourful decor and delightful staff (dressed in equally vibrant printed shirts) help contribute to the laid-back island vibes of Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen. It all makes for an especially effective escape from frigid winter weather, but we’re looking forward to returning once their outdoor patios have opened for the season.

What to drink

Appropriately on-theme, Chubby’s boasts a rum-heavy cocktail list with plenty of tropical flavours. The Everything Nice (made with Appleton rum, Aperol, mango juice, lemon and tamarind), is a refreshing, fruity sipper and there’s even a signature rum punch (mixed with two types of rum) on tap.

For the rum averse (if you’re really out there…), My Blossom is a frothy Tanqueray gin-based cocktail that’s nicely balanced between tangy and sweet. There are plenty of booze-free Jamaican beverages on the menu too, like the sorrel punch (made with hibiscus blossom and a wintery spice mix that reminds us of Christmas), or classics like the grapefruit-flavoured Ting soda.

What to eat

With a strong team of Jamaican-born and trained chefs, including chef de cuisine Donovan Campbell and sous chef Dadrian Coke, the Chubby’s food menu stays true to Caribbean flavours and techniques with a few unique twists. The ackee and saltfish bites, set atop doughy dumplings, are their take on Jamaica’s national dish. Even side dishes, like the fried okra, gets a drizzle of sweet banana syrup and a sprinkling of scotch bonnet dust – a super tasty preparation that will convert the most veggie-averse eaters.

A jerk oven was built into Chubby’s kitchen (its chimney actually runs through the second floor to the roof) so options from the Jerk Pit Grill section of the menu are a good bet. We tried the jerk chicken and even the largest chunks of meat were still juicy and tender inside with a spicy marinade that’s flavourful without being overpowering.

Dinner and drinks for two: around $90

104 Portland St., 416-792-8105;