C&C Cafe in Trenton features great Caribbean food

C+C Cafe owner Charlene Walker awaits the lunchtime rush at the counter of her 
Caribbean and Soul food restaurant in Trenton. Photo credit: Sam Foster. C+C Cafe owner Charlene Walker awaits the lunchtime rush at the counter of her Caribbean and Soul food restaurant in Trenton. Photo credit: Sam Foster.

Written by: Chelsea Wells

A mixture of Caribbean and soul food can be found at C&C Cafe which is located on the bottom level of Carteret Arms on 333 West State Street in Trenton.

Delinia Gardner, Charlene Walker, and Chris Matthews, owners of C&C Café, have found an unusual but popular combination of tastes that set their business apart from all the others in the state capital area.

“We chose the mix of caribbean and soul because in this area you can’t find anything like that,” said Gardner.

Matthews, one of the owners and also the cook, told the VOICE why he opened the restaurant. “I came up with the idea of C&C Cafe because I enjoy the feeling of owning a restaurant and being able to cook for the public.”

Matthews also told the VOICE about his experience in the kitchen. “I have 10 years of experience from working side by side with the soldiers overseas. I owned a former restaurant called Cassava Tree, and also [have experience from] schooling in New York.”

The restaurant offers short order items such as fried chicken and fish, french fries and more Caribbean inspired dishes such as oxtail and jerk chicken. The menu also includes traditional diner breakfast items and beverages.

The jerk chicken wings are a specialty. The jerk sauce has a spicy sweet flavor to it. The chicken is very moist and so tender that it fell off the bone with ease.

For a main course the oxtail, rice, peas and sweet potatoes is an excellent option from the Caribbean inspired dishes. Unlike Jamaican style oxtail, which is spicier, the oxtail served at C&C Café is a bit sweeter. For those not up for full force Jamaican spice, C&C’s version is a great option.

Cooking rice properly isn’t easy, as anyone who watches competitive TV cooking shows can tell you. Undercooked it can be hard and flaky, even burnt, overcooked it gets mushy. C&C’s rice is done just right. It is soft, aromatic and provides the right cut for the spice of the savory elements that top it. For those who prefer the comfort of traditional soul food, the sweet potatoes are tender like a warm slice of sweet potato pie.

A loyal customer since C&C’s opening in August, Nadirah Emmanuel of Trenton told The VOICE, “I have tried a bunch of the items on the menu and one of my favorites is the C&C burger. It is huge, has all the toppings that any fast food would offer but with better portions and a more homemade taste.”

Emmanuel added: “I have recommended this place to many of my friends and family members and haven’t heard any complaints.”

Elouise Kelley, a long time resident from Trenton says: “I’ve been living in this area for a very long time and this is the first time I have seen a place like this. I come here in the morning to get breakfast. The French toast is good, so are the pancakes.”

Prices at C&C are no higher than $13 for an entree, including a meat, a starch, and a vegetable. The food is great and the price is right for a student budget. Even if you don’t take classes on Mercer’s Trenton campus, it’s worth taking the school shuttle bus downtown to try out C&C’s excellent offerings.

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