Trinidad Golden Place Bakery Restaurant:
Signs, Lines, & Paper Bags of Goodness
It’s a Tuesday at 3:43 pm, and I’m waiting in line.
I don’t typically wait in line, unless I have to. I associate doing so on purpose with hype beasts and night clubs. I’ve outgrown my wish for being so cool.
Lines make me feel nervous, but here I am waiting in a line on a Tuesday afternoon on Nostrand Avenue.
There’s a sign in the window advertising legal services, including divorces for $349. It’s bright yellow and right below a neon sign that advertises “Chinese Food Trinidad Style”. I’ve walked by this place for a year and a half and all I noticed were the lines and the signs.
My anxiety is building. My time is coming up. I’m running late. I don’t know what to order. Trying to take in as much as possible. The smells, the signs, the whole experience. I’m not my professional self. This is going to be a little different. I don’t have an interview scheduled. I have a grumbling belly, an hour, and a hope that the owner is there so I can ask him some questions.
There are a lot of options here. There are boards of menus, each broken down by category. Chinese food, Trinidad food, specials, and bakery items. There are also jars filled with nuts and other treats.
A little girl jumps up on a stool next to me to whiff the air. I nod in agreement, “Yeah it does smell good in here.”
It all smells so good. How have I not been here? There’s a full bouquet of fresh flowers on the counter. (they’re replaced weekly). The bakery has been around for 20 years, so they must be doing something right and up until now, I have been missing out on that something.
The line is out the door everyday at 3pm and they have been featured on Vice’s “Fuck, That’s Delicious” with Action Bronson, Eater, Brooklyn Magazine, Grub Street, among countless other publications describing them as the best Caribbean food in New York. I had to check this place out for myself.
I’m in the line.
A push cart stacked with paper bags 10 feet high brushes past between the counter and the line. Do they need all those? Yes. Yes, they do. I listen closer as I stand on the line. I hear the sounds of the paper bags being filled over and over with the goodness.
Okay, my turn in the line. Ugh, still don’t know what to get. I’m that jerk holding up the line. This is why I don’t like lines. I should have done more research about what to get, but also feel like I can’t go wrong.
“What do you recommend?” I ask when my time comes.
The guy taking my order complies with my request and makes suggestions trying to rush me, but he also seems very calm like he’s used to this. He’s the owner.
I tell him I’m writing a piece for NAIA. He’s more than accommodating and makes some suggestions. I’m going to sit and eat it here I tell him. Doesn’t seem like a lot of the patrons do that. The space is narrow.
I squeeze into the corner on a stool. I look through the window of the steel door, the kitchen is a massive industrial space.
The owner starts bringing over my paper bags. Shrimp wontons with a spicy hot and sour sauce, coconut bread, and a currant roll.
The shrimp wontons are unreal. The shrimp is fresh and the dough in the batter is lighter than you can find in most places.
“Not even the Chinese make it like this,” the owner tells me when I tell him how great they are. He’s right.
My mouth is burning. Coconut bread. Back to shrimp wontons. Sauce is spicy but worth it. I need another bite.
“You can get addicted to it.” another patron says to me as he watches me go from one bag to the other, dipping in the hot sauce.
I think I already am.
As I pig out, my greasy hands are typing away on my phone. So as not to lose this moment or a moment of this food. I will forgive my lack of professionalism. Waiting in line, and sitting here indulging just so happens to be the best way to approach this place.
There are coconut flakes mixed in with the batter from the wontons. I’m eating every last crumb. I don’t care. Things are different today. I’m a ravenous glutton. I’m in a hurry. I’m taking it all in.
Currant roll, also bomb. Enough said.
Now onto the doubles. Chickpeas in a soft flatbread that has settled into itself.
Yuca bread with coconut. Gelatinous in the best way. Full flavors through each bite. A brick of pound cake with a croissant crust.
The owner comes over to me and brings me more paper bags of goodness. I ask him my prepared questions through my rushed bites.
I ask about the lines, selling wholesale, and the sign trying to get a better understanding of the place behind the food. His answers are simple but thorough.
To the lines: “We bake everything fresh. It takes time but when it’s ready, they’re here."
To the wholesale: “No sales to outside vendors, but they ask.”
To the sign: “It’s a Caribbean neighborhood. They moved and don’t get so much traffic, so I lease them the space.”
To Action Bronson & Vice: “Nothing changed. They came before, they come now. He sat here for two hours”
I think that seems a little excessive but then I look at my watch. 4:57 pm I’ve been here over an hour sitting in the corner, stuffing my face, and I’m thinking about how I could easily sit here for another hour eating and trying new things. Maybe next time.
I just have to wait in the line.
– Carla McAlary