Aug 102016
 

This week on Bonaire has been hot!  Given that we are now well into August, this comes as no surprise.

Before we get to this week’s pics, I want to mention a few restaurants (some rather new) that we have recently tried and loved.

Barrel Wine Bar – This rather new addition to the island is a great place to grab a waterfront drink and dinner. They have recently started serving dinner, expertly prepared by Chef Hagen (of Cactus Blue fame).  Yes, Hagen is back on the island!  We tried his lionfish ceviche this weekend, and it was fantastic.

Italy in the World – This is a high-end wine and Italian specialty store, which now serves dinner as well.  Their pasta is simply fantastic, as was everything else that we tried.  This is a really nice spot for a special occasion dinner.

Italy wines

La Creperie – Another new addition to the island, this is a nice spot for breakfast or lunch.  They serve crepes and waffles in the traditional french style.  The atmosphere is chic, and the owners are friendly and helpful.  They also make an amazing cappuccino.

Blue Garden Brazilian Grill & Pizza Gourmet – In addition to the tradition Brazilian steakhouse offerings, they have an eclectic menu of pizzas to suit all tastes (even a dessert pizza).  The food and atmosphere are wonderful, as are the owners.

Wills Tropical Grill – Wil’s is one of our longstanding favorites on the island.  His smoked marlin is legendary, and for good reason.  Wil’s cooking is unique and flavorful, reflecting his passion for food.

Now, on to the pics…

This critter is a Rough Fileclam, also known as a Flame Scallop.

This interesting critter is a Rough Fileclam, also known as a Flame Scallop.

Flamingos gathered near the "mushroom tree", as we affectionately call it.

Flamingos gathered near the “mushroom tree”, as we affectionately call it.

If you've been to Lac Cai, you're sure to recognize this beautiful piece of driftwood.

If you’ve been to Lac Cai, you’re sure to recognize this beautiful piece of driftwood.

A yellow trumpetfish hiding amongst the coral

A yellow trumpetfish hiding amongst the coral

Seafoam at Bachelor's Beach

Seafoam at Bachelor’s Beach

A tropical mockingbird with flamingo in the background

A tropical mockingbird with flamingo in the background

West Indian Top Shells (also called whelks or wilks) in a tidal pool

West Indian Top Shells (also called whelks or wilks) in a tidal pool

What have you done in Bonaire this week?  Have you tried any new or notable restaurants?

Sep 222013
 

I’m not a big fan of cooking while I’m on vacation.  There, I said it.  I know that many St. John travelers enjoy cooking breakfast, lunch & dinner in their beautiful hillside villas, but not me.  I’m usually too tired from a day of diving and snorkeling, and the last thing I want to do is cook and then clean up.  Plus, a hot stove in a hot, humid climate is not exactly a recipe for environmental comfort.  Due to my vacation cooking aversion, I’ve become pretty familiar with the many awesome eateries in Cruz Bay.  I’m going to tell you about some of my faves.

Rhumblines

This is my favorite dinner spot in Cruz Bay, and it’s the spot I crave most when I set foot on the island.  The eclectic Asian Fusion menu (heavy on the Thai) has a unique Caribbean twist.

Rhumblines menu

Everything I’ve tried here has been delicious, and I’m super picky quite selective when it comes to Asian food. On our server’s recommendation, I recently tried the cracked pepper crusted tuna, which sits on a bed of green seaweed salad.  It was, in a word, phenomenal (and the portion was generous).

Rhumblines Cracked-Pepper Crusted Tuna Appetizer

Rhumblines Cracked-Pepper Crusted Tuna Appetizer

Another favorite is the Pad Thai, which is authentic and awesome.

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Rhumblines is also known for its inventive drink menu, and I’ve found that the drink specials are so good they make you want to go back for more.

 

Margarita Phil’s

Despite my over decade-long history of visiting St. John, I had never tried this quaint Mexican joint until this month.  This is partially because we like to go during the off season, when many restaurants are closed.  But I can’t deny that it is also due to the less than stellar Tripadvisor reviews.  We recently walked in, without high expectations, on the night before they were set to close for the season.  I needed my Mexican fix, and I was determined to get it.

All Smiles at Margarita Phil's

All Smiles at Margarita Phil’s

Just look at us beaming in the photo above.  Do we look like unhappy diners?  I spontaneously developed an urge to send this shot to my beautiful mother with a caption saying, “Look ma!  We went to Cancun instead”, but alas, she knows me better than that.

Margarita Phil’s turned out to be one of the dining highlights of our trip.  I know what you’re thinking, and no, it wasn’t solely due to the near milk jug sized margaritas that were plunked in front of us.  And on a related note, the margaritas were fresh and tasty.  This was not a case of quantity trumping quality.

Margarita

The menu boasts the full offering of tex-mex favorites, and it also has some impressive house specialties. In keeping with the “Cancun” theme, I had the nachos (build em your own way) with shrimp.  For me, shrimp is one of those menu items that often fails to impress, but they were out of my first choice which was crab.  As it turns out, these were the best nachos I’ve had north of the border.  They were skillfully built, layer by layer, and the shrimp was cooked to perfection (it’s easy to ruin shrimp by overcooking it).  Mr. Reeftraveler was similarly impressed with his dish of steak enchiladas, which I would have sampled if I weren’t a vegetarian (who eats some seafood).

Overall, we were really impressed with Margarita Phil’s.  The food was outstanding, and the service was friendly, engaging and professional (Jill & Ted are servers extraordinaire – we felt like we made new friends).

 

Woody’s

Woody’s is a small, dive-y (not in a bad way) bar and restaurant that really doesn’t look like much from the outside. But step inside and you will find a warm, welcoming atmosphere, great drinks, and excellent seafood (that far exceeds the taste of your average bar food). If you’ve walked around Cruz Bay but haven’t been to Woody’s, you may know it as the bar with the crowd of regulars spilling out onto the street during happy hour.

Woodys Sign

The Shark Bites, which are bite sized squares of blackened mahi, are my personal favorite. I also love the blackened shrimp and the corn crusted scallops.  And dare I write this “review” without mentioning that their version of everyone’s STJ favorite, the Painkiller, is superb.  Check out the menu here.

Woody's Menu Board

Woody’s Menu Board

 

Here are some notes on other spots we love in Cruz Bay.

The Beach Bar – It’s almost always our first meal on the island.  It feels a bit like home.  The food is always great, the service is always friendly, the atmosphere is always laid-back and the view is always stunning.  I love their flying shrimp and their nachos.  And they’ve got super cool merch.

Sunset at The Beach Bar

Sunset at The Beach Bar

Da Livio – For Authentic homemade pasta and brick oven pizza (arguably the best on the island).

Pizza Chef at Da Livio

Pizza Chef at Da Livio

Lime Inn – Amazing owners and hosts and fantastic seafood.  An STJ institution for good reason.

Joe’s Rum Hut – High quality bar food with a killer view and great drinks.

Sun Dog Cafe – Well executed, unique dishes served by a friendly staff.  And their version of everyone’s favorite adult milkshake, the Bushwacker, is like 1000 calories of heaven in a glass.

 

What have I missed?  What are your favorite STJ restaurants?  I’m always up for discovering new favorites.

Aug 272012
 

Grand Cayman is one of the Caribbean’s culinary havens.  Great restaurants are easy to come by, and you’ll want to return just to try the restaurants you didn’t have time to try on your last trip.

The standout dining experience on our July trip was at la Dolce Vita – a waterfront Italian bistro in Georgetown.

Sunset View from our Table

I started with the Contadina salad, which was exquisite in its freshness and simplicity.  My entree was the Gnocchi Virgina.  It was pure pillowy, pesto-y goodness.

Gnocchi Virgina – Dolce Vita

Mr. Reeftraveler indulged in the Seafood Pasta special, which was similarly amazing.

Seafood Pasta Special

A few tips to know before you go.

Tip 1 – Make a reservation

Tip 2 – Go at sunset

Tip 3 – Be prepared for a splurge (but really, nothing in Grand Cayman is inexpensive)

And finally, be prepared for some fantastic food and warm, Italian-style hospitality.

 

Dec 182011
 

Havana Blue is one of my favorite restaurants on St. Thomas, so it was an obvious choice for a special dinner to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 75th birthday a few weeks ago.

The party turned out to be flawless!  The food was great, the wine flowed (thanks Mike), the company was top notch and the service was phenomenal.

The restaurant has all of the elements of a fabulous dining experience.  The atmosphere is airy, modern, beachy and chic.  I recommend a sunset seating to take advantage of the gorgeous view.

The food was delicious, as usual. I’ve dined here several times, and each time I’ve been delighted with the food quality and taste.

Everyone in our large party (which included both NY and Bay Area foodies) raved about the food.  Our normally loud family suddenly got very quiet when the entrees arrived (always a good indicator).

As an appetizer, I love the Latin Dipping Trio, which consists of hummus, salsa and guacamole.  And for an entree, I had the Coco Mojo Camarones, which had an excellent flavor.  And make sure to try their fantastic mojitos (a signature drink).

Coco Mojo Camarones

Havana Blue Mojito

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent service.  The service at Havana Blue is every bit as good as the food.

Prior to the dinner, we worked with Havana Blue to design a cake for the event. It was absolutely amazing! Not only was the design perfect, but the key lime mascarpone filling (sounds strange, but give it a try) was exquisite.

Chocolate Cake with Key Lime Mascarpone Filling

The entire evening was perfectly executed.  To the staff at Havana Blue, thank you for making our night memorable!

Dec 042011
 

Another dreamy trip to my favorite Caribbean sailing & boating playground – the British Virgin Islands.  It’s always fun to map out your itinerary for the day.  Shall it be The Indians or The Baths?  Perhaps Sandy Spit and White Bay?  The choices are endless, and they’re all good.

By the time the noon sun is overhead, your mind turns to lunch and you begin to think about where to tie up for a bite.  Thankfully, there’s no shortage of dockside dining options catering to boaters, yachties and day-trippers (no shoes necessary).

One of my favorites is Sidney’s Peace & Love in Little Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.

Sidney’s is an annual stop for us.  We were very sad to hear of Sidney’s passing last year, but happy to see that his family is carrying on the family name and restaurant.  The food is as tasty as ever.

Sidney’s is a dockside, open-air restaurant that also has an air-conditioned dining room.  It’s a special place, where you can be assured of fresh, home-cooked food served with warmth and friendliness rarely found elsewhere.

Look towards the bar and you’ll notice that there’s no bartender.  No worries, Sidney’s has (seemingly) one of the world’s few remaining honor bars where you can play bartender for the day.  The bar looks like a relic, but be assured that the liquor is top quality.

and the painkiller mix is one of the BVIs’ best.

It can take 45 minutes to an hour to receive your meal, but this isn’t a stateside fast-food restaurant. The best strategy is to place your order then head over to Sandy Spit or another nice spot for a leisurely swim. By the time you return, an amazing meal will be waiting. Or, simply hang out, enjoy the view, relax, check out their awesome selection of hats and shirt and get to know the family (Strawberry is a dear). And if you ask, they will be happy to show you their lobster tank.

The lobster at Sidney’s is as fresh as it gets (evident from the photo above) and very tasty. My favorite dish is the lobster sandwich, which is the Caribbean equivalent of the famous Maine lobster roll.

and the conch fritters are the real deal, skillfully filled with loads of fresh conch.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave an article of clothing before sailing off into the sunset.

Peace and Love,

Reeftraveler