Gourmet Dining in the Caribbean
If one of your favorite vacation activities is to savor a gourmet meal in an excellent restaurant, you might want to plan a trip to these Caribbean islands.
By Lisa Mullins Bishop,
Caribbean Edge Staff Writer.
While most Caribbean islands have wonderful restaurants, these five have been singled out because of the sheer number of outstanding restaurants on their shores.
The tiny island of Anguilla is home to 70 restaurants; Grand Case on the island of St. Martin is called the "Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean"; St. Bart's has almost 100 hundred restaurants and has long been a mecca for the rich and famous; Aruba is well-known for the variety of its restaurants; and Barbados has its share of romantic and wonderful dining establishments.
According to foodies, "Anguilla has more restaurants per capita than New York City." This tiny island offers true gourmet dining at such restaurants as KoalKeel, Pimms at Cap Juluca, and Oliver's. Book a table at one of these classic restaurants for a truly memorable dinner.
Probably the most well-known restaurant on the island, Bob and Melinda Blanchard opened the restaurant in 1994, and have written two books about the experience. A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean chronicled their experiences establishing Blanchard's, while At Blanchard's: A Trip to the Beach Cookbook recreates the restaurant's stellar offerings for the home cook while illuminating the Blanchards' life on Anguilla and back home in Norwich, Vermont.
Chef Melinda is known for her fusion cuisine, which blends the flavors of Asia, Spain, California, and the Caribbean. Her ever-evolving menu has earned the restaurant the Best in Caribbean award. The restaurant has also been recognized by Wine Spectator magazine for its extensive wine cellar.
Choose from an impressive array of appetizers--lobster cakes, corn chowder, pistachio-crusted goat cheese salad, grilled portobello mushrooms. The house specialty is the Caribbean Sampler, a medley of crusted mahi mahi with coconut, lime, and ginger; roasted Anguilla lobster; and spicy jerk chicken served with grilled cinnamon-rum bananas. Other popular choices are the roasted swordfish, seared filet mignon of tuna, osso buco, rack of lamb glazed with Hoisin barbecue sauce, and the beef tenderloin.
Surrounded by lovely tropical gardens and only steps from the beach, this open-air restaurant in Mead's Bay is a charming place for dinner.
Located on Anguilla's quiet east end, Hibernia is a wonderful place for lunch or dinner. This intimate restaurant in a converted West Indian cottage is the brainchild of Chef Raoul Rodriguez and his Irish wife, Mary Pat O'Hanlon. Raoul has received a Chef of the Year award as well as recognition from Bon Appetit, Caribbean Travel and Life, and Conde Nast Traveler magazines for Hibernia's creative French-Asian dishes.
Start your meal with the house specialty, a selection of thinly sliced smoked tuna, mahi mahi, and kingfisher served with ginger-horseradish cream cheese and Irish brown bread. Chef Raoul is well known for his innovative seafood selections such as Caribbean fish filets in spicy Thai broth, Thai casserole of shelled crayfish, basil, and coconut milk, and grilled Anguilla lobster. Even his classic French dishes have a twist. The roasted duck breast is served with roasted figs and dried fruits while the grilled beef tenderloin is accompanied by a creme brulee of foie gras and port sauce. For dessert, diners rave about Hibernia's rum and raisin ice cream with aged rum. A nice French touch is the cheese plate with a selection of five different French cheeses.
With its gorgeous views of the sea and its wonderful food, a meal at Hibernia is one you will long remember.
The Malliouhana Hotel and Spa is one of Anguilla's most luxurious resorts, earning a spot on Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List.
French cuisine is the star at Malliouhana, the hotel's main restaurant. Consulting Chef Michael Rostan, a two-star Michelin chef, and Chef Alain Laurent have created a menu that infuses Caribbean spice into classic French dishes. The menu changes with the seasons but expect extraordinary dishes such as warm lobster medallions sautéed with spinach and baby corn in a citrus sauce, mahi mahi with eggplant caviar and tomato vinaigrette, marinated conch in lemon and olive oil served with tomato chutney.
Those wishing to enjoy wine with dinner have an array of choices. The extensive 25,000-bottle wine cellar, the island's largest, merited Wine Spectator magazine's highest honor, a Grand Award.
This romantic clifftop restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a gorgeous view of Meads Bay--just what one would expect from a five-star resort.
Built on wood pilings above the sea, Straw Hat offers visitors a unique dining experience. Generous picture windows frame gorgeous views of the sea at this restaurant in Forest Bay. Colorful tables
Chef James Hassell's creative cuisine has been featured in Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazine and has earned the restaurant a place on Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List. Seafood reigns at Straw Hat. Chef Hassell's renditions include seared Anguillian red snapper with lime, ginger, and saffron sauce; conch and saltfish soup with tomato, basil, spinach, capers, and olives; grilled tuna loin with compote of balsamic-citrus caramelized onions. Meat dishes include jerk pork tenderloin, osso buco, New York strip steak with tamarind sauce, and seared duck with mango-ginger glaze. Straw Hat is open for dinner only.
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Known for its fabulous beaches, Aruba is also home to a number of excellent restaurants. These are a few suggestions for your next trip.
A restored 1870 Aruban home is the site of this romantic and elegant French restaurant in Oranjestad. Considered one of Aruba's best dining establishments, Chez Mathlide serves French cuisine in its intimate dining rooms. Priding itself on using "only the finest and freshest ingredients," Chez Mathlide dazzles guests with classic dishes as bouillabaisse, chateaubriand bernaise, beef tournedos, rack of lamb with French herbs, pepper crusted filet of snapper, coq au vin, and game such as pheasant, rabbit, ostrich, and deer. The restaurant has an extensive dessert menu featuring after-dinner coffees and sweet endings such as creme brulee, chocolate layer cake, cherries jubilee, baked Alaska, crepes Suzette, and chocolate and Grand Marnier souffles.
This Oranjestad restaurant has been a favorite of both locals and visitors since 1977. Known for its extensive wine cellar and exquisitely prepared Argentine steaks, El Guacho is one of the island's most popular restaurants. As one would expect from the name, El Guacho's decor pays homage to Argentine's cowboys. The guacho steak--16 ounces of prime Argentine beef--is one of the most requested items on this steakhouse's menu. Other steaks include the churrasco smothered in peppers, lambloin, tenderloin, St. Louis style ribs, rib eye, and T-bone. El Guacho also offers a delectable selection of Aruban-flavored seafood such as conch, squid, and jumbo garlic shrimp. The dessert menu features helado argentino (vanilla ice cream with sweet potato marmalade and caramel) and torta gueso (cheesecake). Adding to the ambience are strolling guitarists who serenade guests as they enjoy El Guacho's expertly prepared dishes.
Madame Janette has a reputation for serving food that is out of the ordinary. The restaurant takes its name from the Madame Janette chili pepper, also known as the scotch bonnet pepper, the world's hottest pepper. European chef Karsten Gesing and Ramon Helgers opened Madame Janette in 1999 and since then the restaurant has received rave reviews for its international cuisine with a touch of the Caribbean.
This open-air restaurant serves such intriguing dishes as West Indian rock lobster in a cognac cream sauce, almond crusted grouper in cream sauce, rack of lamb, wiener schnitzel, roasted duck with Grand Marnier sauce. Steaks, seafood and fresh fish such as grouper, mahi mahi, and salmon fill out the menu. One popular appetizer is Madame's hot shrimps--shrimp in marinara sauce with gouda and gorgonzola. For dessert, try the Swiss chocolate truffle mousse, bourbon vanilla ice cream with blueberry sauce, or the Mama Jamaica (pineapple marinated in Appleton rum with vanilla ice cream and toasted coconut). The restaurant is near the Blue Village Villas on Cunuco Abao 37.
A 175-year-old manor house provides an elegant location for Papiamento. Known for its eclectic menu, Papiamento is also considered a romantic place to enjoy a quiet dinner in an elegant atmosphere. Diners can choose to eat their meal in the air-conditioned dining room with its wonderful antique Dutch furnishings or on the terrace by the pool under the twinkling lights. Papiamento excels at what it calls "cooking on the stone." Grilled entrees are transferred to a heated stone and then served. Diners can enjoy their food as they receive it or let their entrees continue to cook until they reach the desired stage of doneness. Seafood such as shrimp, lobster, and fish as well as meat such as steaks, lamb, chicken, and veal care cooked on the stone. Another specialty of the house is the seafood pot--seafood, vegetables, and herbs are cooked in a handmade clay pot. Located in Noord, Papiamento serves dinner only.
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Visitors to Barbados have their choice of a number of outstanding restaurants from Mango's by the Sea in Speightstown to the very French Terrace Restaurant at Cobblers Cove Hotel to the international cuisine showcased at Josef's. Here are a few other excellent choices.
THE CLIFF RESTAURANT
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Cliff restaurant is considered one of Barbados's best restaurants. The Cliff's tagline says it all: "Sensuous food, sinful dessert, elegant wine, truly unforgettable." What makes this restaurant so unforgettable is its innovative cuisine and its location atop a 10-foot coral cliff. The restaurant takes advantage of its cliffside vantagepoint with a multi-tiered design that gives every table a view of the sea. Open for dinner only, the restaurant is truly magical at night when it is illuminated with candles and torches for a romantic ambience.
Chef Paul Owen is known for his cuisine that blends the flavors of the Caribbean with those of other nations. Diners can begin their meal with classic appetizers such as foie gras and chicken liver parfait with apple and raisin chutney and port glaze, ravioli filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, spinach, or snails in puff pastry. Chef Owen's entrees cover the gamut from traditional dishes such as filet of beef, duck breast with wild mushroom sauce, veal chop with Dijon mustard and tarragon sauce to dishes infused with the exotic such as Thai curried shrimp and grilled snapper with three coriander sauces.
Don't miss the restaurant's sinful desserts which include creme brulee with red berry coulis, chocolate mousse, petit fours, baked apple crumble, and white chocolate cheesecake.
The restaurant has a nice wine menu as well. The restaurant is located on Barbados's fashionable West Coast in Derricks, St. James.
Sandy Lane is one of Barbados's most exclusive resorts, and L'Acajou is its award-winning restaurant. The elegant L'Acajou showcases fabulous French and International cuisine in a waterfront setting.
Soups include roasted pumpkin veloute soup and shellfish bisque. As an appetizer, diners have their choice of ravioli of Atlantic salmon, carpaccio of tuna, herb-roasted mahi mahi, or L'Acajou's pan-fried duck foie gras.
Fresh fish and seafood have a starring role on the menu. Seared fresh red snapper, herb-roasted mahi mahi, roasted barracuda, roasted spiny lobster, and salmon are perfect for seafood lovers. L'Anjou also offers a trio of duck (roasted duck breast, braised leg of duck, and spring roll of duck confit), rack of lamb with oriental spices, filet of beef, and roasted veal for those preferring meat.
Cap off your meal with an orange souffle with bitter chocolate sorbet or the French classic creme brulee with caramelized bananas and ginger sorbet.
Chris Hoad is headlining at this restaurant in Speightstown. Located at Port St. Charles, one of Barbados's exclusive residential marina developments, La Mer is well known for the quality of its dining. Grilled meats and fish are prepared over two grills--one with lava rock, the other with wood. The Sunday lunch is a wonderful tradition. Diners can start their meal with duck liver pate or grilled shrimp on sugar cane skewers with tamarind rum glaze. A lime butter sauce accompanies the grilled fish of the day. The veal kidneys in light mustard sauce and the Angus beef are two favorites. For dessert, you won't want to miss the caramelized banana crepes served with rum raisin ice cream or the spiced apple fudge cheesecake.
The Lone Star Hotel is one of the hippest spots on the island, and the Lone Star restaurant is the place to be seen. A 1940s garage has been reconverted into a chic boutique hotel and a fabulous restaurant. The open-kitchen puts the spotlight on the chefs as they prepare the international cuisine for which the restaurant is known. Tables set outside on the wooden deck offer diners wonderful views of the sparkling water. By day, the restaurant has a casual beach bar atmosphere, by night, it's a romantic spot for dinner. Diners rave about the restaurant's Caribbean-flavored dishes like open shrimp foccacia, tuna tartar, blackened mahi mahi with mashed sweet potatoes and papaya salsa. The menu also features Barbados famous flying fish, baby octopus, red snapper, Jamaican jerk chicken, caviar, sushi, sashimi, as well as Thai and Vietnamese dishes. The Lone Star in St. James is considered by many to be one of the best restaurants on the island.
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St. Barthelemy (St. Barts) Restaurants
A favorite of the rich and famous, St. Barts is a quiet island with an outstanding reputation for gourmet dining. The major resorts such as CuisinArt and Cap Juluca have great restaurants and there are plenty of other restaurants--some 100 in all--to choose from. Here are a few outstanding establishments to consider.
This pink pavilion by the sea is the place for lunch. Diners flock to this classic St. Barts restaurant in Grand Cul de Sac to enjoy French and international dishes such as foie gras served with apples, grilled duck breast, veal with mushroom sauce, lobster served with basil-flavored pasta, lobster bisque, and a meal-size king crab salad. For dessert, try the classic French tarte tain or the croustillant au chocoloate (phyllo dough filled with chocolate). During lunch, visitors can also watch as models preview the newest fashions from the on-site boutique.
Located in one of St. Barts most exclusive hotels, Le Bartolomeo is known for its constantly evolving French and Mediterranean menu. A pianist plays during dinner adding an elegant note to the restaurant's relaxed ambience. Diners swear by the duck foie gras with caramelized mangoes and balsamic vinegar. Seafood aficionados will enjoy the Chilean sea bass with ratatouille, margret of duckling with orange sauce, and the Chinese-style sole with ginger. The menu includes other entrees such as filet of lamb accompanied by hummus and couscous. The restaurant at the Hotel Guanahani in Grand Cul de Sac is open for dinner only.
This restaurant run by Austrian Adam Rajaner is one of the island's top restaurants. French cuisine is served in the elegant dining room or outdoors on the patio. The restaurant takes advantage of the daily flights from French to bring diners specialties usually available only in France. Visitors to Le Sapotillier can enjoy chicken and pigeon flown in from Bresse, France, a region renowned for the quality of its poultry. Other French dishes on the menu include escargot, rack of lamb, sole meuniere with spinach, pan-fried duck livers with caramelized pineapples, pigeon with braised red cabbage and spaetzle. For a truly decadent dessert, try the chocolate mousse or raspberry souffle. This long-established restaurant in Gustavia serves dinner only.
Another of St. Barts top restaurants, Le Toiney features classic French dishes on its menu, often with a Caribbean twist. Begin your meal with spicy mango soup, then choose from fresh fish in refined beurre blanc, Chilean sea bass, crayfish ravioli with foie gras, or grilled fresh fish. Roast duck in caramel sauce, rack of lamb, and saddle of lamb in red wine reduction will appeal to those seeking something other than seafood. This lovely restaurant at the Le Toiney Hotel overlooks the hotel pool and the beautiful Bay of Toiney. Le Toiney is open for dinner only.
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St. Martin / Sint Maarten Restaurants
If you' re looking for a culinary adventure, you'll find it on St. Martin. With daily flights/shipments from France, the island is a gourmet's delight This island, half-Dutch and half-French is home to numerous restaurants serving up dishes from around the world. The small village of Grand Case has 27 restaurants serving French, Indonesian, Italian, and Vietnamese foods among others earning it the title "Culinary Capital of the Caribbean. Below are a few choice offerings you'll want to explore on your next visit.
This Grand Case establishment is located in one of Grand Case's oldest buildings, a more than 120-year-old Creole house. Guests can dine inside this beautiful home or outside on the terrace. The restaurant has received accolades for its fine French cuisine and well-stocked wine cellar.
Start your meal with such French classics as garlic escargot, frog legs, or foie gras with roasted pears. The baked goat cheese and Roquefort in phyllo is another popular appetizer. The restaurant is known for its well-prepared meat and seafood dishes. Those preferring a meat entree can't go wrong with either the beef filet with either morels or blue cheese sauce or the roasted rack of lamb. Diners have also been impressed with the pork stuffed with walnuts and apricots. Seafood lovers will enjoy the grilled sea scallops, mahi mahi with citrus butter and ratatouille, or the scallop fricassee with bacon, curry, and a sour apple sauce. Another good choice is the red snapper with eggplant, preserved tomatoes, and basil. For dessert, don't miss the mini-chocolate cake with its soft, chocolate center. L'Auberge Gourmande is open for dinner only
Known for its excellent service and wonderful food, Mario's Bistro is one of St. Martin's most popular dining establishments. Diners praise the restaurant's honey-garlic glazed duck served with garlic mashed potatoes and the braised lamb shank with red wine and garlic sauce. The seafood dishes are also superb--from the halibut wrapped with smoked salmon and leeks to the salmon in a caramelized onion crust to the grilled tuna with sesame seeds and wasabi mustard sauce. Portions are more than ample, so those wishing to try one of the restaurant's outstanding desserts should take this into consideration. Mario's also has an extensive wine list so finding the right wine to complement your meal is not a problem. With its country French ambience and location overlooking the canal in Sandy Ground, Mario's is a wonderful spot for an al fresco dinner.
With its fresh cobalt blue and white decor and lovely waterfront location, this open-air restaurant is a charming spot for dinner. Diners can enjoy drinks before or after dinner on the upstairs deck with its wonderful view of Grand Case Bay and the neighboring island of Anguilla.
Begin your dinner with one of Rainbow's appetizers. Choose escargots in garlic butter, the Caribbean crab cake or the almond-coated shrimps with Asian salad. The soups include gazpacho, French onion, and Caribbean fish soup.
The restaurant offers daily specials but is well known for a number of its dishes including the roast duck in banana-rum sauce and chicken breast marinated in ginger and lemon grass. Other favorites include the shrimp and sea scallops with pineapple and island curry chutney, lamb chop with mashed sweet potato, and salmon and spinach in puff pastry.
Rainbow also offers a tempting assortment of desserts from its famous tarte tain (apple tart with caramel sauce) and creme brulee to its profiterolles, frozen lime souffle, and pairing of white and dark chocolate mousse with vanilla and raspberry sauce. For a lighter touch, try the assortment of lemon, passionfruit, and raspberry sorbets.
The Grand Case restaurant has a nice wine list and the knowledgeable staff can help you select the right wine to complement your meal. Rainbow is open for dinner only.
Chef/owner Dino Jagtiani calls you to "Awaken Your Senses" at his wonderful restaurant next to the Atlantis casino in Cupecoy on the Dutch side of the island. Temptation has received excellent reviews for its creative cuisine and sophisticated atmosphere. Considered one of the best restaurants on the island, Temptation has even caught the attention of leading food magazines: The February 2005 issue of Bon Appetit magazine featured Temptation in its story about great restaurants in the Caribbean.
Dino Jagtiani trained at the Culinary Institute of America, the only St. Maarten-born chef to do so, and his expertise is put to good use at Temptation. The emphasis is on the unusual at this restaurant. Favorite appetizers include the grilled peach salad with its mixture of greens, blue cheese, candied pecans, and, of course, grilled peaches and the eggplant stuffed with crab, spinach risotto, and cheese. Onion soup lovers will delight in his caramelized vidalia onion soup accented with Heineken, Hennessy, honey, and thyme. The seafood martini showcases marinated crab, scallops, and tuna. Those in search of the island's best foie gras will want to try Jagtiani's version with its caramelized pineapple and port wine sauce. With so many creative dishes, diners are tempted to sample just the wonderful appetizers.
The entrees are just as intriguing as the appetizers. There's a magnificent beef tenderloin for meat lovers. Seafood fans would do well to try the salmon with a caramelized onion crust, chicken and shrimp pad Thai, or the black bean crusted tuna served with wasabi mashed potatoes. Desserts dazzle the palate, from the creme brulee quartet to the chocolate cobbler with macadamia nuts and homemade pistachio nut ice cream.
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