Shandmas: A Little Piece of Haiti on Ontario

  • Shandmas

  • $
  • 2727 Rue Ontario East Montréal H2K 1X2
    (514) 447-5243
  • Monday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
    Tuesday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
    Wednesday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
    Thursday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
    Friday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
    Saturday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
    Sunday: 12:00 – 8:00 PM
    • Owner(s) Marie-Aliette Forges, Duckens Ernest
    • Chef(s) Duckens Ernest
    • Opened 2018
    • Accepts mastercard, visa, amex, cash, debit
    • 24 Seats
    • Accepts groups
    • Offers delivery
  • Restaurant

Nestled on Ontario Street, Shandmas stands out as one of the city’s best Haitian restaurants, offering authentic cuisine from the Pearl of the Antilles. Owners Marie-Aliette Forges and Duckens Ernest warmly welcome us to their little corner of Haiti with friendly hospitality.

Marie-Aliette and Duckens opened Shandmas on July 15, 2018, inspired by Duckens’ realization, as a passionate cook, of the lack of such options in the neighborhood. Neither a fast-food joint nor a gourmet restaurant, Shandmas offers the best of both worlds: an excellent Haitian restaurant. The restaurant’s name, an homage to Champs de Mars Square in Port-au-Prince, evokes much more than mere memories for the owners; it’s filled with nostalgia. “That’s where the carnivals were, it was such a lively place. We wanted to recreate that atmosphere in Montreal,” says the spirited Marie-Aliette.

Flavors and Authenticity

“We’re not just selling dishes, but Haiti, one dish at a time,” she continues. A philosophy that shines through in every bite. And these dishes are absolutely delicious. The menu showcases typical street food, including a platter of fritay, a must-have sold by street vendors in Haiti, consisting of fried plantains, marinade, accras, and meat. The menu offers an appetizing variety of flavorful dishes, such as griot (marinated pork shoulder, braised and fried), chicken, or tasso (similar to griot, but with beef), all served with rice (sticky or white with pea sauce), fried plantains, and pikliz. They also offer a whole fish served with a sauce that evokes the beaches of Haiti. In addition to that, Duckens prepares beef and crab stew dishes, such as legume (made with eggplant) or lalo (made with amaranth leaves), both available in vegetarian options as well. Despite the generous portions, prices remain very affordable. The plates are hearty, full of flavor, and reminiscent of traditional Haitian grandmother’s recipes.

For drinks, you’ll find classics like cola champagne, Malta, and Prestige beer. The establishment also offers fresh homemade juices and cocktails that evoke the Caribbean. We had the pleasure of trying the Pic Macaya, a tasty cocktail made with Baron Samedi spiced rum and ginger beer.

Ayiti Cheri

Shandmas is definitely worth a visit, both for its cheerful and colorful decor and its warm atmosphere. The Haitian decorative elements are so numerous that you don’t know where to look first (in a good way!). As soon as you step into the restaurant, you are instantly transported to the seaside in Haiti. “People play with the drums and discover the objects we brought back from our trips, thus discovering the real Haiti, which is not the one we see in the media, but a country characterized by welcoming people who want to share the richness of their culture,” says the owner. The attention to detail is remarkable. Shandmas truly bridges the soul and history of Haiti. Everyone who walks through the restaurant’s doors is welcomed like family, whether it’s for a quick lunch during the day or for a long dinner with friends in the evening. People from all communities come to Shandmas, and it’s truly beautiful to see. “Our greatest pride lies in the fact that we have managed to attract people from all over. We have an extremely diverse clientele that we have managed to retain. It’s a great achievement for us because that was our goal: to share our culture with as many people as possible,” concludes Marie-Aliette.

Happy Discovering!

Photography by Alison Slattery

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