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Peter Lilienthal

Anguilla/Saba

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My wife and I will be visiting Anguilla and Saba in just a few weeks and we're looking for any great dining adventures anyone can recommend on these two islands. We already know about the legendary Blanchard's and Cap Juluca on Anguilla, but beyond that, just what's in the mainstream guidebooks. For the record, we're very much both fine dining and beach shack kind of folks, so don't hold back.

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We've vacationed in Anguilla a few times, so here are a few of our favorites. You've probably seen these on any website related to Anguilla travel.

-- Oliver's on Long Bay. We've had the grilled snapper (I actually licked the bones clean and when Oliver stopped by the table to say hello I went red with embarrassment) and the special rock-oven baked chicken that has to be ordered ahead of time. The chicken was absolutely wonderful and I would highly recommend it as you can get great fish at lots of other spots.

--Tasty's is another local place that serves excellent seafood. Very tasy indeed, low key atmosphere. They also serve great breakfasts

--Johnno's on Sandy Ground for burgers, bbq chicken and ribs. They serve it up with fries or fungi (kind of like grits), cole slaw and their special hot sauce.

Another good place for chicken and ribs is Gwen's on Shoal Bay West. There are hammocks to relax in while you wait, or you can go snorkelling on the beach. Excellent snorkelling all along the curve of Shoal Bay.

--Palm Grove Bar & Grill at Junk's Hole. The penultimate beach shack serving crayfish, grilled lobster (outstanding), johnny cakes, ribs, chicken........all served by Nate Richardson who is a warm, friendly, gem of a man. His picture has been taken about a million times, holding a large tray of grilled Caribbean lobster, and it's been run in the NYT and other travel magazines. They open around 11 or 11:30. There's only one palm on the beach, though, so if you need shade, get there eary. Order whatever you want, go swim and snorkel for about 45 minutes and then sit at your table in your bathing suit. Drink Red Stripe and pinch yourself.

We've never eaten at the "fancy" restaurant at Cap, just at Kemia, the tapas place and it was good. Haven't eaten at Blanchard's, but we've eaten at Mango's a couple of times and had a wonderful time. There are a few other high end places, and many of the menus and wine lists are similar. Prices are very high -- as in most island vacation spots that have to bring everything over. Trattoria Tramonto on Shoal Bay East has okay Italian food in an incredibly romantic, lovely setting. I'm a sucker for their lobster ravioli.

The French bakery in Island Harbor, Bon Pain, is wonderful and The Cotton Gin right in the center of The Valley has fantastic gelato in every flavor imaginable, including soursop.

Where are you staying? Feel free to ask any questions, it's one of our favorite places.

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my family has stayed at cap juluca 11 times over the years. may we suggest that you skip dinnig at pimms and go to kemina (or what ever they call it this year) or drinks at 6 to 7 that is when the sun sets it is right next door to pimms and just as romantic. the food at pimms is always good but never consistently great. blanchards is great and compares with union square cafe in nyc we usually hit it twice on a ten day trip. hibernia is also great it is on the eastern end of the island about a 35 min drive from cap juluca about 11 miles i think. it would compare to jean- georges resturants maybe even better as its away from the hotels and tends to less crowded and only has maybe 14 tables so the chef really can focus on each dish we usually hit this one twice also. ceder grove cafe has a chef called smoke he is very good used to be at koal keel i would find out if he is still at ceder grove and hit him atl east once. he also has a casual beach resturant called smokkies near cap that is great for lunch and has beach chairs for aftter lunch. altamer resturant is very pretty and has very good french food almost as romantic as pimms but better food and reasonably priced for this vilatel which is very expensive to stay at. tasty is great for lunch and dinner no ambience as its close to the road but the food is great. tha last place is zaras if shamash is the chef there. it is reasonable and his food is very good he works the summer in the hamptons. i hear that the trattoria tramonto is very good but i dont eat italian out as i am italian descent and alwast disapointed. check out //menus.ai for a list of the resturants on the island it maybe a little outdated but give links to the resturants websites. rember its the islands so service is usually at a slowwer pace then nyc but always as accomadating as the can be. enjoy your trip we missed this year because my wife was with chlid and we could not travel.

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I was generally underwhelmed with the restaurants on Anguilla - we spent a week there last year.

I'd avoid Pimm't (at Cap Jaluca) and The Dining Room at Malliouhana. Both are extraordinarily expensive and bland, though the latter has better atmosphere (and is way less crowded.)

For good fine dining, Blanchard's is the way to go - exquisite!

I found that the mid-level restaurants deliverd the most consistently good dining experiences. And even these places are a lot classier than they sound:

Oliver's - small and romantic, right on the beach. Don't miss the extraordinary coconut pie for dessert.

Straw Hat - casual atmosphere, but serious menu. Definitely worth the effort to find this out-of-the-way place.

Mangos - island-style plantation house serviving wonderful Caribbean seafood.

Cuisinart - nice lunch poolside (forgot the name of the open-air restaurant), memorable organic produce.

Places I didn't like:

Scilly Cay - lunch-only private island. The idea is better than the experience, and they're rather full of themselves. The overhyped drinks are unmemorable but strong. Ho hum.

Hibernia - the worst experience we had. The snooty owner acted as if she had a pole stuck up her ass. If I wanted greasy food served by a walking attitude I'd have gone to my sister's. Dismal service and wine list, gloomy setting.

Anguilla is definitely not the gourmand's dream destination - for that, go to St. Barths.

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George,

We were in St Barth's a couple of years ago, after a 10 year hiatus, and were very disappointed with the quality of the restaurants. I don't know if the cooking on island has slipped or if we've just gotten more sophisticated palates, but except for the most casual places, menus were uninspired, prices were high and the food was just so-so. The one place we wish we'd gone to was The Wall in Gustavia.

On the other hand, the bakeries are wonderful and the options for excellent prepared food to carry out are many. Plus, you have to love a place where the basic supermarket has an abundant choice of cheeses, pates, and delicious baked goods.

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George,

We were in St Barth's a couple of years ago, after a 10 year hiatus, and were very disappointed with the quality of the restaurants. I don't know if the cooking on island has slipped or if we've just gotten more sophisticated palates, but except for the most casual places, menus were uninspired, prices were high and the food was just so-so. The one place we wish we'd gone to was The Wall in Gustavia. 

On the other hand, the bakeries are wonderful and the options for excellent prepared food to carry out are many. Plus, you have to love a place where the basic supermarket has an abundant choice of cheeses, pates, and delicious baked goods.

I just started going to St. Barth's four years ago, so I can only imagine how good the restaurant scene was in the past; I think it's quite wonderful now, especially compared to Anguilla's. It's certainly much better than Anguilla's both in terms of price and quality, and your complaints about St. Barth's sound like my Anguilla complaints! I'm rather numb to high prices while on vacation, so I don't notice them as much as I ordinarily would at home; I REALLY noticed them on Anguilla, but not much on St. Barths.

I agree that there is a wonderfully diverse selection at the markets and bakeries, and indeed we did do our own cooking quite often.

The Wall House is a favorite. Their coffee-lacquered duck is extraordinary.

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