Norma G’s brings Trinidad to Detroit

I’m always on the hunt for Caribbean food in the city. During a festival, a mobile food, but in this case, a new restaurant. Norma G’s went from  food truck to a hot spot on Detroit’s Eastside late last month.

I’ve never had Trinidadian food but I would imagine for it to be similar to island food altogether.

Tons of allspice and thyme. The good rice with plantain.

My interest was present prior to its grand opening. I yearned for it and they’re my neighbors!! Norma G’s is an ode to Chef Lester’s mother, Norma. For Lester, is a way to serve the neighborhood experiences from his childhood. For everyone, food is special. Special in a way that yes, it’s totally necessary to survive but it brings people together. It creates conversation that trickles down to building a relationship in such a short moment with strangers. Even if you aren’t ever going to see them again. I firmly believe that food and music are the keys to bonding.

I was accompanied on both visits by a good friend who initially told me about Norma’s opening a week prior. For that week, I studied the menu as if I was going to get a grade for it. All the good curries. All the good rice dishes…and they even have patties! Their menu is pretty flexible, and there are vegetarian alternatives, which is what I had my eyes locked on. Mmm, the Callaloo. I had to, I MUST! I requested the CooCoo & Callaloo, an order of Doubles and spiked sorrel for my drink. My friend grabbed the Curry chicken with mac. My heart fluttered until…

I can be honest and say I allowed this to ruin my experience. That and the fact that I didn’t mesh with their Doubles. So, instead I grabbed the jerk chicken and moped over a side of fried plantains. Despite speaking from a brats POV, the food was absolutely amazing

A week later I stepped into Norma G’s a bit earlier than before without expectations. What did I order? You guessed it, the CooCoo with no extra sides and a different drink. Come to find out, while speaking to Lester he informed that he recreated a holiday punch that his father Al, would serve the adults on such occasions. Al’s Rum Punch is concocted with bitters, simple syrup, fresh lime juice, grated nutmeg topped with a huge cherry. In whatever way possible the chef/owner made sure he honored his parents, cause damnit it was delicious!! My friend from our first visit decided to try the Chicken Paleu, a baked rice dish with pigeon peas, squash, and peppers. Our server approached the table and I was anticipating a “we nu hav dat” in regards to my CooCoo so I could once again be filled with sorrow but luckily what I heard pleased me. “Your order will be right up”, favorite song. Joy has become thee as they say. I’ve never had CooCoo before. I was basically eating a mound of mashed okra and polenta. I’m sure if you’re reading this it doesn’t sound that appealing but trust me when I say it was flavorful.

I can only imagine what Norma’s kitchen smelled like on a breezy afternoon. There’s a great amount of love and respect that flows evenly throughout the restaurant. You’re basically walking into someone’s home. You’ve been invited over for dinner after everyone has had a busy work day. I felt amongst family.

Dining at Norma G’s overall was a great experience. 

What a good mother teaches and shares, allows you to share with others

Lester Gouvia

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