The fusion of music and food is a fundamental component to the theme of eateries all over. My son works at Five Guys and spends eight hours listening to classic rock while flipping burgers and dropping fries. Grand Electric blasts old school rap throughout the smallish confines while one eats some of the best tacos in the city. Some eateries take it a step further by creating an entire theme around their pop culture icons. For example, take Sky Blue Sky’s odd tribute to indie band Wilco or Fidel Gastro’s snack shop which pays homage to the Presley family at Lisa Marie.
One of the newer joints to follow this blueprint is 1 love kitchen, a drop in Caribbean place on Queen street. Not surprisingly, the menu revolves around jerk meats and features all the fixings including rice and peas and plantains. In a a Toronto twist, they also offer quinoa and beans for fans of the ever popular supergrain. A sketch of Bob Marley with his famous smile looks down on the modest interior which has seating for a couple of dozen people. A line of chaffing dishes housing the menu offerings is staffed by a single employee who was quite welcoming upon my entry from the bitter cold. I was grabbing take-out for myself and a colleague who was tormented by the hotel down the road’s lame attempt at gluten free/vegetarian offerings and needed some real food in order to get through the rest of the meeting. I went right for the jerk chicken with a side of rice and beans, cole slaw ($9.45) and plantains for an extra $1.25. The chicken was well seasoned and moist and the rice and slaw hit the spot. The plantains were a bit tough and dry. The portion sizes (especially the chicken) wwer rather large which somewhat justified the ten dollar price point.
My intent was to get the channa roti with buckwheat as a gluten free option but I was informed that this option never took off so they don’t offer it anymore. So, I ordered the veggy lover’s medley ($9.50) instead after finding out it was a chick pea based curry and therefore had adequate protein and was served with rice and peas and a side salad. The curry was well developed and hit an appealing bite at the end. The texture of the chick peas were spot on.
Another interesting point is that 1 Love Kitchen is part of Belly, a rather new reward program that allows numerous businesses to be linked to the same account thus cutting down on the need to carry 15 lunch cards around. With a scan of the Belly app, one will gain points and get rewarded for their ongoing loyalty sometime down the road.
In the midst of numerous burger joints, sub shops and hot dog carts, 1 love kitchen offers quick Caribbean cuisine for around 10 bucks. Sure, there are a bunch of hole-in-the-wall jerk chicken shacks which might be a bit cheaper, but the proximity of 1 love within the hub of hotels, hospitals etc coupled with the Belly reward program makes it a consideration for a quick lunch or dinner. It’s another example of the fusion of good music and good food. After all, I left sayin’: let’s get together and feel all right. Wo wo-wo wo-wo! before and after I filled my belly. Bet it would taste even better after embarking in some of Marley’s other “talents”. Too bad they don’t have late night hours.