If you haven’t yet been to Grandchamps, the family-owned Haitian eatery on the Eastern edge of Bed-Stuy, you’re in for a treat. Heaping plates of Haitian-Creole classics, such as griot (roasted and pan fried pork) served with pikliz and sos (pickled vegetables and onions), rice and beans and plantains,($16) and snacks like Haitian patties at two for $3, constitute a menu of well-flavored comfort food that will fill you up and still provide plenty of left-overs.
More than a hotspot for high-quality Haitian eats, the cafe is also a dedicated community space, staffed by neighborhood folks, many of whom were untrained prior to hiring, chef and co-owner Shawn Brockman told Brokelyn. This weekend is a good chance to check out both the food and the culture of the space, as they’re putting on a three day “fete” of live music, DJs, and vendors to celebrate their one-year anniversary.
The owners, husband and wife team Shawn Brockman and Sabrina Grandchamps, opened the restaurant a year ago with a dual purpose: to create a neighborhood-friendly cafe and to honor Sabrina’s Haitian roots (her family hails from Cap Haitien, a port city in Northern Haiti). Brockman, who is also the head chef, learned a lot of the staples of Haitian cooking from his wife’s relatives on trips to Haiti.
“If I could boil it down, our goal is to promote a positive awareness of Haitian food and culture,” he told Brokelyn. “Many people think of Haiti as a desolate place, a place of struggle, but there’s so much more.”
But it’s about Bed-Stuy too: the couple, who lives a few blocks away themselves, is here to stay. This weekend will be as much about celebrating the first year of the restaurant as it is about providing a space for neighbors to congregate.
The celebration is in three parts: tonight, for “Fritai Friday,” (a nod to fritai, the name for primarily-fried Haitian street food, represented on the menu as an appetizer sampling), the five-piece Brooklyn-based Latin band Strings n Skins performs from 6-9pm.
On Saturday, from noon to 8pm, there’ll be a line-up of three DJs spinning, including Haitian-born, Brooklyn-based DJ Hard Hitting Harry, who’s maybe best known for touring with the Fugees on the their debut album Blunted on Reality. One of the line-cooks, Bed-Stuy resident Jackin Gaskin, will make his debut as DJ Love, spinning hip-hop and R&B.
And finally, on Sunday, from noon-4pm they’ll set up tables outside the restaurant for a mini flea market featuring goods from Haitian vendors, such as AskAnya, the Haitian-made bean-to-bar chocolate, and Pierre’s Spicy, small-batch almond and peanut butters made by Pierre Henry, who is Haitian-American, culminating with a performance by Haitian singer Bohio Music.
So work up a good appetite and get yourself down to the corner of Patchen and Halsey Avenues for some scrumptious grub, made tastier to a backdrop of Kompa rhythms.
If this post made you hungry for fritai and kreyol, check out our round-up of some more of Brooklyn’s best Haitian restaurants.