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Rachel Perlow

St. Thomas / St John USVI Dining

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OK,

La Sucrerie is correct, and they've opened another one in Simpson Bay which I think is equally as good.

If you haven't been to Friar's Bay, the road is just out of Marigot on the way to Grand Case. There's another access road just as you enter Grand Case, but it is in truly horrific condition.

Friar's Bay beach itself is quite calm and can be a little rocky getting into the water, but hey! you're there for the lunch. Chairs and umbrellas are free if you are indeed eating, which does mellow the price somewhat.

The restaurant, (Friar's Bay Beach Cafe, not to be confused with the other establishment, Kali's) is great; some thatch covered tables in the sand, and then a more structured place about thirty metres from the water. The always changing blackboard menu has some normal stuff, burgers, club sandwich I think, but the rest of it is fascinating. I've had a duck heart brochette that was spectacular, shaved roast leg of lamb that tasted like lamb, steak Tartare, great nems, lots of interesting, huge salads... it goes on and on. Its not cheap, but portions are enormous, service top notch, music very eclectic (and they'll turn it down if you think its out of hand). Sundays can get very busy with families.

All in all, one of my favourite places to eat on the island.

I seem to prefer great lunch places - I think it gives me more time to recover for the next day. Layla's in Nettle Bay is another great spot - wonderful setting, and the food is good again after a lapse for a couple of years. On my last visit, they took dollars for Euros when paying cash.

I hate to admit it but Sunset Beach Bar is still worth the trip. The food is quite good, and the scene, well, it is what it is. But a similar vista, cheaper prices and fewer people can be found at Cliffhanger's, the bar literally hanging on the cliff, opposite Atlantis Casino. The view is stunning.

That should keep you going for a while.

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Both Friar's Bay and Cliffhanger's are on our "to do" list this time. Now, when I read "duck heart brochette"... it made it to "must do". :)

What does it mean "is not cheap"? how expensive is it?

And can you please tell me more about Layla's?


The human mouth is called a pie hole. The human being is called a couch potato... They drive the food, they wear the food... That keeps the food hot, that keeps the food cold. That is the altar where they worship the food, that's what they eat when they've eaten too much food, that gets rid of the guilt triggered by eating more food. Food, food, food... Over the Hedge

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As with many, if not most, restaurants on the French side, you pay the exchange on the dollar/Euro thing. I think at Friar's its 25%.

If you do lunch "right", (if you're into duck hearts and the like then I know you will) couple of drinks, appetizers, a bottle or two of a nice rose, espressos, count on $75 and it CAN get to a hundred dollars a head. But you've had more food than you can eat, and you should be pleasantly blasted.

Then the bastards bring out the rum, and suddenly you're drunk as a Lord.

At least, that's what I've heard.

Layla's is quite beautiful. You're noshing with your feet in the sand in the midst of a grove of sea grape trees. Almost jungly, if that's a word. Its on the beach, but the water is more in the background, because, well the sea grapes. The menu is more mainstream than Friar's or Waikiki, but there's always some specials, two or three fresh fish etc. It is a very relaxing, serene locale. I think they may be open two or three nights a week for dinner too. I went once three or four years ago, and it was very pretty, lots of candles, but I remember the service being a bit gruff. I think the same people work the night shift as the day, and they've simply had enough.

And have you ever gone to Le Chalet - The Cheese House in Sandy Ground? Dinner only, and its no good for just two people. 6 or more makes it a great night. Fondues, raclette, unbelievable scalloped potatoes (tartiflette) its a wonderful, fun, fairly inexpensive night out. The cheese and champagne fondue is fabulous. You eat way too much of everything, and waddle out of the place feeling like your legs are full of cheese and potatoes.

That's it, I've made myself hungry now.

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Thank you for the details, I'm drooling thinking about what's to come.

But if there's anything else you might want to add, please don't shy away.


The human mouth is called a pie hole. The human being is called a couch potato... They drive the food, they wear the food... That keeps the food hot, that keeps the food cold. That is the altar where they worship the food, that's what they eat when they've eaten too much food, that gets rid of the guilt triggered by eating more food. Food, food, food... Over the Hedge

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Quick question: how necessary is a car if you're staying on the Dutch side? I'm going to be there for a week--first time--and would like to get around to both sides, but don't want to hassle with a car if I don't have to...

Thanks!


Marty McCabe

Boston, MA

Acme Cocktail Company

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In my experience, and I have only stayed on the French side, I find it is better to have some sort of transport. Especially if you want to explore the Island. My husband & I, when solo, will just rent a moped which is perfect, but if you are a larger group a car is better. The island is quite big and taxi's are expensive and not all that reliable. If you want to go beach hopping I would say definatley have your own transport. Finding a taxi at the end of a day on beach can be a headache.

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So, my lovely wife and I were in St. Martin for a week this January. Before leaving, I compiled notes from egullet. Here are a few observations, in no particular order:

- Don't rent from Alamo on the island. Ever. Under any circumstances. We rented a car from them when we arrived the first evening. It was returned the next morning, a rolling death trap.

- Good maps aren't easy to find. If you rent from Hertz though, they have a booklet that was very helpful.

- In fact, we ended up taking taxis for a couple days before we rented a car again, this time from Hertz. It was relatively cheap--you can get most places for $15 each way. It also allowed you the opportunity to take in the sites and get a general idea of the island before driving.

- The roads on the Dutch side suck. In fact, if you're ever lost, and don't know which side of the island you're on, just look at the road. If there's a lot of pot holes, you're on the Dutch side. Bourdain recommended a 4x4, and defensive driving. I agree heartily!

- Bistro Nu in Marigot - cute little French restaurant. We had a very nice meal there, marred only by the American guy at the next table asking the French owner for his soup, "Muy pronto." That was almost as bad as the American who brought his own beer cozy into the restaurant.

- Hilma's Windsor Castle is impossible to find. I think Bourdain imagined it, one day in a drunken stupor. :cool:

- Matouk's hot sauce is worth bringing home.

- Grocery stores on the French side are a dream. Baguettes are warm, charcouterie is plentiful, cheese is everywhere...

- Amstel Bright is very tasty, especially when served freakin' ice cold.

- Rosemary's in Marigot is worth numerous visits. Whole fried red snapper, the most tender goat imaginable, conch--it's all great.

- Philipsburg is only good for finding obscure liquors that you can't get in the states, and very cheap. And really, the duty-free shop at the airport is just as cheap. Right then, don't go to Philipsburg...

- Lido in Cole Bay is amazing barbeque. Get two combo meals, split one with your wife (or significant other) and save the other one for lunch the next day.

- If you like Rhum, stock up on Clement from the French grocery stores.

- The number of restaurants that serve burgers and pasta in an effort to coddle Americans is embarassing.

- Zee Best is good breakfast in Simpson Bay.

- Beaches are somewhat hard to find. The signs are LITTLE.

- Grand Case is small, and we regret not spending more time there.

- Driving around the island is fun and easy.

Well, that's all. I'd definitely go back. Thanks to everyone who posted tips (especially Bourdain). It made visiting a lot easier.


Marty McCabe

Boston, MA

Acme Cocktail Company

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There's alot of great info on St. Martin here....but its all dated. Has anyone been recently? Or can I still rely on the posts from 2006? I'm sure restaurants have closed, new ones have opened, etc. I am going Feb 21-27.

Thanks!

Michelle


"He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating oysters." - King James I

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To add- we will be staying in Simpson Bay and are looking for good "cheap-ish eats" to fill in for breakfast/lunches and one or two dinners. We will have a car and so can travel.


"He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating oysters." - King James I

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I'm hoping for some responses as well. Going to be staying on the Dutch side, Sint Maarten, for 10 days at the end of this month and first few days of March. Would love some ideas of things to do and places to eat!


Donna

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I haven't been in a year but I'm sure that you'll still find Rosemary's Lolo in Marigot (braised oxtails pictured, excellent).

353518171_6fb21166aa.jpg

and loved Uncle Harry's in Simpson Bay for lobsters.

353518166_54f1bd8591.jpg

The lolos in Grand Case are always good for a snack/lunch/early dinner if it's on your way from/to the beach.

To be honest, we ate home a lot, taking advantage of the wonderful supermarkets - loved the one by the bridge in Sandy Ground and the new (at the time) Grand Marche close to the border on the main road.

Went to Poulet D'Orleans only to find out that they open later in the evening (I think 7 pm) and we never made it back.

Don't miss La Sucriere bakery in Marigot (by the waterfront where the parking lot is) for baguettes and pastries.

And a piece of advice: pack lunch if you go to Pinel Island (and you should go) - the prices are outrageous (5 euros for french fries and about 50 euros for a very unimpressive lobster).


The human mouth is called a pie hole. The human being is called a couch potato... They drive the food, they wear the food... That keeps the food hot, that keeps the food cold. That is the altar where they worship the food, that's what they eat when they've eaten too much food, that gets rid of the guilt triggered by eating more food. Food, food, food... Over the Hedge

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Thanks for the info Mistinguett.

Bumping this up to see if there are any other suggestions. I've made a copy of the posts to this point but would love other views.

Thanks to all who respond.


Donna

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Thanks for the info Mistinguett.

Bumping this up to see if there are any other suggestions.  I've made a copy of the posts to this point but would love other views.

Thanks to all who respond.

If you want to follow Anthony Bourdain and his eating spots go to:

Freedom Fighters Ital Shack

Poulet D'Orleans

Talk of The Town

Gus Beach Bar & Grill

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Recent trip to St Thomas and St Johns...

Herve's- Just OK. Great location, decent winelist, food was tired and not well-prepared or presented.

Oceana-Very good meal in a nice outdoor place at night. I suspect that the neighborhood is a bit scruffy, so night-time dining hid all of the local defects.

Mongoose Junction on St Johns- Nice place good menu


Edited by gfweb (log)

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I just returned from a week in St. Martin. Great food everywhere!

Le Tastevin in Grand Case was amazing, everything was delicious, and the view can't be beat. With wine and dessert it worked out to about $75 pp.

Layla's Beach Bar still delivers, we had great cajun fish. Layla's has this great atmosphere, directly on the shore yet nestled among the trees for this private, jungle-y feeling. We were there early for dinner, but they had a dance floor and a disco ball, so I'm sure its a great night spot too.

Pineapple Pete's in Simpson bay was not stunning, but good enough when we felt too lazy to drive up to the French spots. I tried the wild salmon lasagna which was better than I had hoped, with very tender, large chunks of salmon filling the lasagna and not an overload of cheese. The only fault was the addition of dill. The dish was flavored with traditional italian spices, red sauce, mozzerella cheese which all worked well...and then there was this odd aftertaste of dill. I still ate the whole thing, it just would have been better minus the dill.

One night when I wasn't feeling well, we went for takeout at Lee's Roadside Grill (Simpson Bay).

We were there early so the place was fairly empty when we ordered. We waited 25 minutes and hadn't received our food (people sitting at the bar around us who arrived at the same time had been served and were well into their dishes). So we asked the barman how our order was coming and he said curtly, "the cook will bring it over when it's ready." He then re-shouted our order to the grill-man (who didn't respond). 20 minutes later there was still nothing, the other people had finished eating and one dining gentleman asked me if we had placed a "special order." My husband told the chef we had been waiting a long time for our take out and were only giving him two more minutes to see where our food was. The barman did not respond and walked over to the grill-man and started talking to him, then walked over to the pick up window and started sifting through the orders. We left at that point, deciding that our food had not even made it to the grill yet. I was very disappointed with the service....very rude, unprofessional and unconcerned that we were not being helped. The food is probably delicious, but I will not ever go back.

We went across the road to Topper's, where we got terrific friendly service and fantastic mahi-mahi burgers delivered to us within 15 minutes.

La Main a La Pate in Marigot served up good super-thin crust pizza.

Top Carrot in Simpson Bay is good when you need a fresh veggie fix. Fresh fruit juices as well.

The Lolos in Grand Case were our favorite. Tuesday in Grand Case is Harmony Night, where the street is closed down to traffic and vendors set up, and the lolo's set up tables in the street. After dinner, there were people selling home made coconut ice cream, crepes and pastries. We tried Talk of the Town and Sky's The Limit and both were good, although we preferred Talk of the Town. The saltfish cakes were awesome, and sadly Sky's the Limit didn't have them. I think any of the Lolos are a good bet, and you can eat for less than $10 a person.

Amazing trip!!


"He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating oysters." - King James I

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Sorry, this was supposed to be posted in the St. Martin thread!


"He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating oysters." - King James I

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Hello everyone, and thank you for the incredibly helpful reviews and suggestions. I stumbled into this website on a Google search, and immediately got hooked! I'm amazed at all the information that has built up in this discussion over the past several years, and I must say that it easily outdoes the dining sections of my three guidebooks combined.

We'll be visiting the Terres Basses area for the week starting Sat. March 22, 2008, and I'm digging for some help on some memorable places from our last visit to the island 19 years ago. I understand that this is a long time for the restaurant business, so I imagine these places are now gone, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

I remember a killer white seafood lasagne on Front Street at a small place called Callaloo. I can't find info anywhere, so I assume it's gone? We had killer ribs at a hilltop restaurant counter-clockwise from Philipsburg, perhaps in Point Blanche. Does anyone remember it? Finally, we had phenomenal French/Creole food at a tiny romantic place that I think was halfway up Pic Paradis, perhaps called Paradise Cafe. There we had creamy Shrimp Champignon and spicy Creole Conch. Isn't it amazing that food memories stay with us for so long? If anyone remembers these places, or knows if they still exist, we would like to revisit them as part of our 20th anniversary tour of the island.

Some places we are considering for this trip are listed below. I've seen rave reviews of many of them here, but the comments go back several years. If anyone can offer current tips, we'd appreciate it. Since we only have a week, we're shooting for a couple of upscale (reservations required) dinners and as many meals as possible at other local favorites on a more spontaneous schedule. We'll also be there at the peak of high season (spring break), so any pointers about getting into the best places despite the crowds would be helpful.

Poulet d'Orleans (wow! this place sounds amazing!)

Citrus

Le Cottage

Chez Yvette

Uncle Harry's

happy hour at the Dinghy Dock (thanks eGullet members for the tip!)

Talk of the Town

Enoch's Place

Rosemary's Lolo (Mistinguett's photos are fantastic!)

Hilma's Windsor Castle

I promise detailed reviews and lots of photos upon my return!

Thanks again for the informative discussion!

David Marks

San Mateo, CA

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It will be my first visit to St John USVI in June and I cant find any decent food journalism or guidance about the place anywhere. Any restaurant/food recs, especially must-go places and dishes?

Thanks in advance!


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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It will be my first visit to St John USVI in June and I cant find any decent food journalism or guidance about the place anywhere.  Any restaurant/food recs, especially must-go places and dishes?

Thanks in advance!

70 VIEWS and no one has any recommendations? You gotta be kiddin me.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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We went to Caneel Bay about 2 1/2 years ago and we ate most of our dinners in Cruz Bay. I'm not even sure if these places still exist, but here is where we ate:

The Fishtrap -- good food, but not great.

The Balcony -- we really enjoyed our dinner here.

Caneel Bay Grand Buffet (we stayed at Caneel Bay) -- just okay.

Margarita Phil's -- I had shrimp enchiladas, which were very good.

The Lime Inn -- we liked it a lot -- I had the "all you can eat peel & eat shrimp". Very tasty and a good deal.

I would recommend searching on Fodor's forums for restaurant information. Now that I think about it, I didn't really get any good tips from the food boards; they all came from Fodor's.


Edited by Cleo (log)

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It will be my first visit to St John USVI in June and I cant find any decent food journalism or guidance about the place anywhere.  Any restaurant/food recs, especially must-go places and dishes?

Thanks in advance!

70 VIEWS and no one has any recommendations? You gotta be kiddin me.

So what did you think, Rich? Any good places?

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The Lime Inn was terrific , great staff, very good food, straightforward and generous, Shrimp, grouper and pastas were very good. Cafe Milano was also surprisingly good, if you like red gravy Italian (which I do); the pizza, which was highly touted on Fodors, was merely a glorified, overcheesed boboli crust, but the pastas were very very very good, as were salads and the mussels. Margarita Phil's was lackluster, with the exception of the nachos and chicken quesadillas, which my 3 yr old twins scarfed up greedily (always a good sign IMHO). Ironically some of the best meals we enjoyed were at the dining room, the Beach Cafe, at the Westin Resort, where we stayed. The breakfasts were outstanding, whether it was the daily buffet, or ala carte items, and the dinner menu was pretty damn good, especially their Caribbean styled dishes.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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I am going to St Thomas next week and have been many times in the past as friends have a vacation home there(near Mahogany Bay). We have eaten very well at local restaurants but I can't seem to remember the names of the best places. It's been a few years, 3 maybe, but I would appreciate some recommendations for a high end casual fine dining restaurant to take our hosts to. Price is not a consideration.

We will have access to fresh fish since our hosts have a deep sea boat so I would love to hear thoughts on high end fish cookery. The last time that I was there we caught marlin, tuna, rainbow runner and many fish I forgot but that we enjoyed greatly. I made a ceviche dish with the tuna that the hostess still asks for the recipe but I am clueless. I know that I used shallots, lime juice, olive oil and... something slightly hot. Any thoughts to replicate this? Her husband loved whatever I made (and he caught the tuna)and thinks that I am holding out. I am not: so your best recipe for fresh (as in barely recently dead) carpaccio/tartare would be greatly appreciated. They have access to well stocked stores but gourmet stuff is a long ambling drive away.

Kate

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