St. Thomas / St John USVI Dining
Posted 10 September 2002 - 10:59 AM
Glad to hear that you liked Waterlemon and Lameshur for snorkelling. I agree that the beach at Cinnamon Bay (or little Cinnamon) is spectacular (hard not to find a spectacular beach on St. John, really). I also enjoy the hike out to Ram Head and the incredible view that is its reward. Sounds like I should stop off in St. Thomas next time before moving on to St. John and the BVI.
Thanks for the report!
Posted 12 September 2002 - 04:25 PM
Posted 16 September 2002 - 05:32 PM
By the way--IF indeed--you are staying near the Oyster Pond (now called, oddly, Oyster Bay?), I can recommend Happy Hour at the Dinghy Dock on Capt. Oliver's Marina (that's NOT Cap'n Olivers Restaurant--its a separate little joint that feeds liquor and decent chow to local yachties and sailors). Dollar-pour-your-own-drinks. Be sure to say hello to the two Ryans for me. If you want to know what's going on on the island while youre there you can compare the unofficial government apologist organ, the Herald--or the more lively opposition TODAY. The letters columns are priceless. Also. I had the pleasure of eating lunch at (remember this is ME speaking) vegetarian joint run by Ras Bushaman--the Freedom Fighters Ital Shack on the Bush Road diagonally across from the Herald. It's the grimy fence with the murals. Tell Ras Bushman I sent you. His "herb" iced tea and tamarind juice is great--everything is grown on premises, and its an unforgettable experience. If you have trouble finding it--just call Laser 101 (101.1 on your local FM dial) betwen 6-10AM M-F) and ask the host, Bulldog for directions. DO NOT MISS THIS. And tell Ras Bushman, Tony says "Bless." You might need a designated driver getting home.
Posted 17 September 2002 - 09:37 AM
Too bad about Michel Royer, sounded good.
Posted 18 September 2002 - 02:41 PM
Posted 19 September 2002 - 06:31 AM
Kskis: Oyster Pond Hotel was once the most lovely twenty room Spanish style getaway on the most beautiful, remore lagoon on the island. It is now a gigantic, constantly under-construction Radisson that nearly blots out the sun with its size and ugliness. It looks like Leavenworth. Dawn Beach Hotel was destroyed by Hurricane Luis. The beach is nice--though crowded--and the area surrounding the lagoon has been similarly built up. If you have to stay in the area, I suggest looking for food--and beaches-elsewhere. Particularly in the terre basse(lowlands) on the other side of the island. A scenic and not too long drive. (I used to do it every day by scooter). For Hotels--La Samanna is far and away the best.Worth every dime--and full, attentive service and a fantastic beach--the kind you expect of the West Indies but seldom find. For les expensive, but quaint, cozy and local feling--you might consider the smaller places in the town of Grand Case. You WILL need a car rental--and it should be a 4X4. And drive defensively.
Posted 20 September 2002 - 10:15 AM
Posted 25 September 2002 - 09:19 PM
Internet is everywhere and the price is dropping, look around.
No doubt you'll have a good time, and don't miss happy hour 4 - 6 at the Floating Bar south of the Simpson Bay bridge.
Ministry of Rum.com
The Complete Guide to Rum
When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.
Posted 03 October 2002 - 08:14 AM
Posted 06 October 2002 - 01:07 PM
We are working on our pictures for a more complete post, but here are some highlights of our trip:* Happy Hour at The Dinghy Dock on Captain Oliver's Pier. Fish Dinner for $7.50??? Best deal on the island.
* Vegetarian lunch and "special" tea at Ras Bushaman's Freedom Fighters Shack.
* Citrus Restaurant - would be at home in any big restaurant town, which makes it unique for a carribbean island.
* Il Capuccino gelato - wait a minute... Are we on St. Martin or in Italy?
* Dawn Beach was our favorite. We went to a few others (Orient, Baie Rouge) which were also nice, but had no facilities. Having a beautiful beach adjacent to our resort with a shower for rinsing off right next to the sand was a major plus.
* Shopping for rum, rhum, and Rum Jumbie.
* Poulet D'Orleans - fresh chicken and delicious seafood.
* Pain Chocolat
* Gourmet Epicerie, Marigot - fabulous cheese and deli section and bread.
Interesting factoid: there seems to be a higher Chinese restaurant to population ratio than NYC on St. Martin/Maarten. We only sampled one once, on our last day and it was actually pretty good!
Posted 07 October 2002 - 07:30 AM
Saturday, September 28th - First stop was lunch at Mark’s Place in the Food Center Shopping Mall (supermarket still under construction). Excellent ribs. First exposure to acras (shrimp/fish/conch fritters), eh, where’s the shrimp? They were hush puppies to me. Then we went to Ram’s Supermarket to stock up on some supplies for the week (we were staying in a timeshare and didn’t want to eat out for every meal). On our way out of the market we had our first taste of Il Cappuccino gelato. They were giving out free samples in cones and we were instantly addicted, more on that later. For dinner on Saturday we made a mistake and went where Tony Bourdain (TB from now on) told us specifically not to go, Captain Oliver’s restaurant. The food wasn’t bad overall – my soup de poisson was a deliciously murky brew full of the heady essence local fish and Jason loved his shrimp and scallops dish, but Fredlet’s lobster bisque was the antithesis of my soup. It looked very similar to the soup de poisson, but with a kind of bitter lobster flavor and a piece of lobster thrown in. In other words, it was nothing like what we thought the lobster bisque would be (pink & creamy). In addition, the restaurant was overpriced and stuffy. Don’t bother.
Sunday the 29th – We decided to circle the island. Brunch at a little patisserie in Marigot. I didn’t get the name, sorry, but it was diagonally across the street from a church and also on the same block with the library. It was the best one we visited during our stay. My favorites were the Pain Chocolat, apple butter filled and pear & cream filled pastries.
We returned to Ram’s to pick up some additional supplies we needed, including some packaged Il Cappuccino ice cream (and more free samples). After some time on the beach, we made lunch out of the beautifully fresh red snapper purchased at the supermarket (on ice in the produce section). There were no barbecues available at this timeshare resort so we filled the fishes belly with slices of red onion, garlic and limes and broiled them for about 5-7 minutes per side (two different sized fish, one needed more cooking after the initial 10 minutes).
For dinner, Jason and I headed to Poulet D’Orleans, a TB recommendation (they will be featured on A Cook’s Tour next year). This restaurant specializes in freshly killed chicken, which truly tastes different (better) than the usual commercial product. The choices of sauce for the bbq chicken were peanut (Jason’s fave), creole (mine) and bbq. For appetizers we had Boudin Lambi (seafood sausage) and stuffed Christophine. This is the veg we call a chayote in the States. Both were delicious. The other couple we were with (Fredlet is the creator of eGullet’s icon, Gully, and her hubby) didn’t come with us, so we decided that we had to bring them back to Poulet D’Oleans later in the week. Soaking in the resort’s hot tub completed the day.
Monday the 30th – Breakfast in the condo of fresh melon, local eggs made into a gouda cheese omelet for me, dairy-restricted Jason got sautéed peppers and garlic in his. We also first sampled our new discovery, Cheesecake flavored Philly brand soft cream cheese (I think St. Maarten is where they test market new flavors, they had a lot of different flavors at the supermarket that I had never heard of). For the rest of the trip we called this stuff “crack.” Oh boy.
We started circling the island again, stopping in Grand Case for lunch at a lolo (open air BBQ joints) called Talk of the Town. Jason’s ribs were OK, but my shrimp and the conch stew were pretty mediocre. TB – strike one. We continued in a counter-clockwise direction around the island, made a brief stop in Marigot, then some more serious shopping in Phillipsburg. Most of Front Street is the typical cruise-ship-tourist-attracting “discount” jewelry stores. However, major purchases were ruled out on this trip so I made do with a new pareo (large scarf-like bathing suit cover-up/skirt/wrap) and otherwise just window shopped. Here's an interesting shop, We finished our shopping at the picturesque Phillipsburg Liquor Store (in Pointe Blanche) where Jason got a few rare bottles, I got some junky stuff and we first tasted Rum Jumbie.
For dinner, we went to where TB did send us, The Dinghy Dock on Captain Oliver’s Pier on Oyster Pond. After learning the rules of happy hour there -- $1 beer, $2 pour-your-own mixed drinks – Ryan gives you the bottles you request and a mug with ice and you mix your own drink, at the bar, don’t take the bottles to your table, order your food only when you have your entire parties order ready -- we settled in at a picnic table for a couple hours. As I mentioned in my teaser post, the Fish Dinner for $7.50 is the best deal on the island: grilled red snapper, rice, veggies, salad – all delicious. Other items sampled by our group included the burgers, BLT on baguette, chili, onion rings – all were great. The only drawback to the place is the lack of fans to help create a breeze. We sweated throughout our couple hours there and then headed back to the resort to cool off in the pool then relax in the hot tub before bed.
Tuesday, October 1 – We all spent the morning lazing around after Monday’s activity (a lot of shopping/walking), then Jay and I decided to explore a little more on our own. We had a little lunch at Le Bar de La Mer in Marigot. Nice people, but not great food and expensive, don’t bother. Then we found the Gourmet Boutique epicerie on Rue d’Anguille and browsed around there for a while. They have a fabulous cheese selection, an equally fab deli where we got some salami, cured ham and pate, and just baked bread. Jason was impressed with their kosher section, I was tempted by the selection of confiture (jams).
Later that evening we had reservations for the four of us at Citrus Restaurant. The chef. Jeff Kipp, is recently of Charlie Trotter in Chicago. It is part of The Inn at Cupecoy, a small boutique hotel that seems reasonably priced for the amenities it offers. They also have an adorable Market with a great selection of specialty items. This restaurant would be at home in any big city, it is not so much a “Caribbean” restaurant and simply a great, even special occasion, restaurant. I had the tasting menu ($39) which started with an amuse bouche of a single pristine Bluepoint oyster. I will admit to trading this for Jason’s amuse of smoked salmon as we each preferred what the other was given, the salmon was very lightly smoked and wrapped around supremes of orange, very delicate and lovely. Next came roasted quail over Forbidden Rice with a small piece of foie gras. The black grains were cooked into a savory risotto which was very complimentary to the foie and quail, yum. The main was roasted venison loin cooked to a perfect medium-rare, with not a hint of gaminess. I also got to sample Jason’s perfectly cooked scallops from the a la carte menu. My dessert was a chocolate cake with rich vanilla ice cream and hazelnuts, which was good but no comparison to Jason’s fudge-like chocolate terrine with sour orange sauce. Now that was lick-the-plate good! It was so rich we all got to taste because a small slice was enough. Highly recommended.
Wednesday the 2nd – Relaxing morning in the condo, during which we called in to Laser 101’s Bulldog and the Rude Awakening Show. The show is somewhere between a Morning Zoo and Howard Stern. TB told us to call in to the show to get directions to Ras Bushaman’s Freedom Fighters Ital Shack. This Rastafarian gentleman runs a vegetarian café out of his home. I believe he grows most of the food we ate, which consisted of corn meal mush (a rich tasting soft polenta), with some red beans (kind of a vegetarian chili) and soy chunks (imitation meat curry), served by his lovely wife and their son. This was all much better tasting than I’m sure I’m making it sound and was accompanied by Tamarind juice and “herb” tea (didn’t feel much from it, apparently you need to drink a lot more than we did to notice the effects). Anyway, when Bulldog heard about eGullet and that TB told us to call, he invited us onto the radio show, more about that tomorrow.
We hit Marigot and showed the Gourmet epicerie to our friends, followed by a stop across the street at a nice little wine shop called Le Gout du Vin where Jason procured some more bottles and took pictures of some really old rum that we couldn’t afford. Some more beach time that afternoon, followed by a stop at Il Cappucchino's shop/factory in La Savanne on the road between Grand Case and Marigot (across from a green gas station). Giuseppe, Giorgio and Maria were so happy that we enjoyed their product and compared it favorably to that sampled by some of our group in Italy. Once again, The Dinghy Dock for dinner. I could tell right away from the food that there was another (new) cook on duty (overcooked fish, curry on the overcooked veggies), I didn’t learn the new guy’s name, so just make sure “Little Ryan” is cooking before you order food when you go. (This is opposed to “Big Ryan” who always seems to be tending bar.) However, the mussels (always the Wednesday night special) were excellent, so get them regardless.
Thursday the 3rd – Jason and I get up early to go to the radio station. Click to listen in on our appearance. Track 1 is an intro to eGullet, Track 2 has a long discussion about rum. You've got to listen to hear this funny bit about "bleeping hot chili." It was our first radio interview and was fun to do. We mentioned many of our site coordinators by name and website, and described some of our beloved and obsessed posters. However, I don’t think a lot of the people on the island have internet access. We offered an eGullet.com T-shirt as a prize for the first caller to describe our logo. It took most of the show for someone to win and I think it was a regular caller who won. Oh well.
We made lunch of the charcuterie purchased in Marigot. Beach. Brought Fred & Daiv to Poulet D’Orleans for dinner. They enjoyed the roast chicken and we sampled their seafood combo and ribs. All was wonderful again, especially the service provided by young Christopher and Malachi.
Friday the 4th – Jason and I took off early to pick up the CD Bulldog promised us of the radio show. We stopped first to pick them up some donuts (they teased us for being foodies and not bringing in any food the day before). They put us on the air again briefly and then we drove around and did some last minute rum shopping. All week we had noticed the proliferation of Chinese restaurants all over the island. Some look like little shacks with folding card tables inside, others look more like real restaurants. We stopped at one of the middle of the road looking places in Simpson Bay called Island Seafood and sampled their Salt & Pepper Shrimp. It was actually really good, even spicier than the versions we get at home. Next trip to the island we’ll have to sample some more. Then back to the condo to pack and hit the beach again.
Our final dinner on the island was in Grand Case at Restaurant du Soliel. An elegant open air bistro serving French and Creole cuisine. The highlights were the Caribbean ravioli with fresh crab and the Chicken breast stuffed with shrimp and lobster. It was a nice meal, but also the most expensive of the trip – and all the places along Grand Case’s restaurant row (the “Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean”) are similarly priced.
Summary – We’ve been to several other Caribbean islands and so far St. Martin/Maarten is our favorite. The driving is challenging but doable with an SUV and the other drivers are not nearly as crazy as the ones on Jamaica. We also felt quite safe and were able to get away from the touristy areas without difficulty. The beaches are beautiful with lovely soft sand, but not great snorkeling - next time I'll go on the multi-island snorkeling tour offered at the activity desk. I feel sure that this is an island to which we’ll be returning.
Posted 07 October 2002 - 11:05 PM
It sounds like you had such a wonderful time there. And...you were there during my Birthday. I can't really travel because of health reasons, so I've been living vicariously thru this thread! hahahaha
Well, at least I know of a place I want to travel to someday. May I ask a few practical questions?
I have to travel with a slightly oversized wheelchair due to arthritus and was wondering what the handicap nature of the island was like? I am mobile for about 100 feet or 15 min at a time, but must stop for rest due to heart problems.
Sioux City, IA
Posted 08 October 2002 - 07:40 AM
I don't think this is just on St. Martin, either. A lot of the Caribbean is like this - they don't have the same accessibility requirements. Not that I'm an expert, but I would think you would have to stick to larger modern hotels/resorts to get the type of accessibility you would need. And perhaps sticking to the USVI would be a good idea? Make lots of calls/faxes/emails ahead of time.
Perhaps you could start a new thread, within this Caribbean forum, asking for recommendations of resorts that are handicapped accessible?
Posted 15 October 2002 - 01:42 PM
Pictures, page 1 and page 2
Caribbean Felafel Shack this is one of the first things we noticed on the way leaving the airport -- we were really hungry, and low and behold we found the star of David, hoping for some good Israeli chow. But it was not to be. There was, in fact, no felafel to be found. Only a bunch of rastafarian guys selling drinks.
The view outside our timeshare was breathtaking. This is Dawn Beach, on the east side of the island. Literally a 1 minute walk to the surf.
Farm animals on the road are a common sight. You'll find goats, chickens, donkeys, and all kinds of stuff out and about, but be careful not to hit them with your car.
This is a picture of one of the rum ladies selling Ma Doo Dou and various other libations at the stand near the scenic overlook tourist area.
Boulangeries with french pastries and french-style coffee can be found quite easily on the French side of the island. These are from the patissierie across the street from the Church on Rue de La Justice in Marigot.
At Poulet de Orleans in the Quartier de Orleans, two teenage boys serve freshly killed chicken and island specialties prepared by their dad. This is Malachai (age 16) and Christian (age 13) who will provide homestyle table service and will also happily engage in converstations centering around fast sports cars, and also will provide entertainment in the form of you doing their geography and math homework if you look too bored. Behold rachel's steak dish and my freshly killed chicken as well as thier seafood platter. . Make sure you order their local specialty, stuffed christophine.
When the weather is nice the views are nothing short of spectacular. Be sure to get a four wheel drive car because the hills can be pretty scary, especially in the rain. Of course, when the rain clears up you should head to the beach and kick back with a few beers. After some R and R, we strongly suggest heading into Grand Case and chowing down on some island barbeque at one of the lolo's. Not only is the food great but the view overlooking the beach is fantastic too.
For a truly amazing dining experience you want to check out Retaurant Citrus in Cupacoy. Here is a Salmon amuse bouche with citrus vinagrette, bay scallops with wild mushrooms and a balsamic reduction and an utterly perfect venison tenderloin over mixed grains and cramelized kohlrabi. I was told that the duck was pretty damned good too.
After such a rich meal we decided to get down to earth, so we seeked out the infamous Ras Bushaman, the Itel Freedom Fighter. The Bushaman's wife prepares Rastafarian vegetarian cuisine out of his humble abode and he farms his own vegetables. Don't miss the tamarind juice and the "Herb" tea. After a couple of glasses of Herb Tea we were feeling pretty Irae.
Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters
offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | My Flickr photo stream
Posted 15 October 2002 - 02:19 PM
Posted 15 October 2002 - 04:54 PM
Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters
offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | My Flickr photo stream
Posted 16 October 2002 - 04:13 AM
Posted 16 October 2002 - 04:34 AM
"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.
"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."
Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM
Posted 22 February 2003 - 08:56 PM
Just watched your episode of A Cook's Tour. It was very nice to see Christian and Malachi again. And this time we got to see the third brother, who was busy doing his homework when we visited. I was laughing when you mentioned them being interested in cars, they certainly are. And they were very excited to tell us how they were going to be on Food TV.
Great pictures--they make me homesick. Nice to see those adorabl;e scamps Christian and Malachi are still on the job--and talking about fast cars. I guess I have to check out the sorbets. And my pal Ras-Bushman..I know just what he's saying: "Bless!"
We definitely plan on going back to St Martin. It is such a lovely island. Has anyone else been lately? After you covered him on your show, I'm scared I'll have to make a reservation at the Freedom Fighters Shack.
Posted 23 February 2003 - 04:55 AM
Posted 08 May 2003 - 01:51 PM
Also any suggestions , for dining near grand case or marigot.
Posted 19 July 2003 - 08:02 AM
Posted 16 August 2003 - 08:48 PM
We headed over to Frenchtown and hit Craig and Sally's for the first time since living here. Reservations are highly recommended. The menu changes nightly with Sally's one signature dish remaining at the top of the appetizer list - eggplant cheesecake with Parmigiano Reggiano, roasted garlic, roasted eggplant all topped with a tomato basil confit. Excellent. Salad of spinach greens, goat cheese, sun dried cherries, prosciutto, and melon was also well put together. My wife had pan seared diver harvested sea scallops, 3 huge ones with 3 jumbo shrimp atop a cajun bean and crawfish chowder. I had a half roast duckling with pancetta peppered polenta cakes and a port wine poached pear stuffed with bleu cheese and chorizo all on top of a sweet potato sauce with cinnamon hints. The pear was delicious, although I'm unsure how the chorizo flavor fit into the sweetness of the duck dish. Regardless, it was excellently prepared. They offer 20 or so wines by the glass and have about 350 bottle offerings on their wine list. Apparently they have about a 5000 bottle inventory, which is probably the best you're going to find on an island with a tropical climate. Desserts all sounded great but Sally goes a tad overboard on the entree portions so we had no room left over to find out. Regardless, Craig and Sally's comes as my highest recommendation thus far on the island.
The only other places I can recommend so far are Randy's Bistro, where you pick your wine from his colocated wine shop and pay a $5 corkage fee - a bargain place to quaff some wine, and the Old Stone Farmhouse over near Mahogany Run. I've had well prepared, fresh meals at both of these establishments and have left happy - Randy's on a number of occasions. Additionally, I've had luck at Off The Hook in Red Hook for fresh local seafood prepared in a (somewhat liberal) local style.
Not recommended: Frigate East, Herve (It was acceptable fare, but you can do much better for the price), Molly Malone's (even a turnoff for casual bar food).
If anyone's interested, I'll keep this topic updated on my experiences.
Thanks for reading.
Edited by markf424, 16 August 2003 - 08:56 PM.
Posted 30 August 2003 - 04:23 PM
Posted 30 August 2003 - 04:57 PM
Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters
offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | My Flickr photo stream
Posted 31 August 2003 - 08:54 AM
Tony, if you're out there in cyberworld: Have there been any dining changes since this time last year? I'm writing an article for our local lifestyles magazine here in Little Rock, so I'd like to definitely hit the "don't miss these" restaurants on both sides -- yours and Rachel's previous suggestions will be extremely helpful. I'd also like to hit the "off the beaten path" spots as well. Any further suggestions to complement what has already been posted? Thanks for your help.
Posted 17 November 2003 - 10:04 AM
Posted 07 January 2004 - 06:54 PM
I moved from St. Thomas in 1969.