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Thread: June Restaurant Impressions

  1. #1
    dwtx is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2019 Posts: 16

    June Restaurant Impressions

    We just returned from our trip and I thought I'd share my thoughts on the restaurants we visited during our stay. Since we have not been to the island in 6 years I think it might be useful to some to have an "outsider" perspective. I have to say we feel very spoiled and didn't have a single bad dish the entire time, but some places shone more than others.

    Le Papillon Ivre - our first night meal set an incredibly high bar! The care that they put in to every dish (and the service) really shines through. Cured spanish sausage, white asparagus, eggplant, beef carpaccio (UNREAL), bacon salad, cheese course, apricot tart... all excellent. I was blown away by the quality, especially at such an unassuming location, and the wine was delicious as well. We loved how they asked for our wine preferences and then brought out a selection or 4-5 wines for us to taste before choosing a glass or bottle. Really nice touch! Can't recommend highly enough - a gem.

    Nikki Beach - drinks and sushi were good as we remembered, although it's really more about the scene. The view is incredible, the people watching is entertaining, and the beach is probably my favorite on the island.

    Tamarin - absolutely stunning setting at night... I mean, just jaw-dropping. We ate in the garden and didn't have any mosquito issues. Food was good, but not spectacular. The best thing was probably the roasted mango dessert. I found the atmosphere to be probably the best on the island and the food to be average to below average (which is still great outside of SBH). Cocktails and service were both solid.

    Le Barthelemy - we had lunch & drinks on the loungers after enjoying some stand-up paddleboarding. I have to say this was one of our favorite days. The frozen drinks were absolutely perfect for a hot day (the Parrot Colada was delicious) and the poke bowl was one of the best things we ate all week - I'm salivating just thinking of it. Service was excellent and the calm beach was great for taking a dip between drinks. A wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

    Black Ginger - a great casual dinner with my go-to comfort food (Thai). The dim sum was another of our favorite things all week, and the massaman curry really hit the spot after a long day in the sun. I think I would abuse the to-go service if I lived on the island. We both happily curled up for bed early after a very satisfying dinner.

    Le Petite Colombe (Lorient) - we stayed at Villa Nita in Lorient so their pastries were our morning ritual. Very friendly girls working the counter didn't mind our lack of French, and all of the pastries and sandwiches were just delicious. Choisy was good as well, but I preferred Colombe.

    Shellona - love what they've done with the place since Do Brazil. Great interior design and the lower seating area has a really cool vibe. The fried seafood plate with spicy mayo was the perfect thing after we spent our morning out on a boat. Drinks and atmosphere were both great - a lovely place to spend some time and I imagine a perfect spot for sunset drinks.

    Victoria - we were craving pizza and La Isoletta was closed on Monday, so we wound up wandering over to Victoria and finding a couch overlooking the harbor. Pizza was good with some pretty creative options, although overall not terribly memorable. The interior was very nice with mood lighting and a really cool bar. Pretty reasonably priced by SBH standards, it seemed like a nice place to go with a small group.

    Pearl Beach - we went to St Jean hoping to catch Lil Rock, but it was closed that day. Luckily for us, as an unplanned lunch at Pearl Beach was terrific. Frozen drinks, tempura shrimp with spicy mayo (my wife's favorite), veggie quinoa salad, and wahoo ceviche were all delicious. Friendly servers, great atmosphere, plane landings, all around wonderful.

    Quarter Kitchen - we went for "Taco Tuesday" because we wanted to try the Rhum Room and they required you to eat dinner first. Turned out to be very good and also our cheapest dinner on the island by far (maybe 70 euro). The cocktails are incredible (we went back for more another night), the tacos were delicious (we tried almost all of them), and the Rhum Room is not to be missed in my opinion. Christopher was an encyclopedia of knowledge and made some awesome, creative drinks while being a real pleasure to spend time with. I was expecting a huge bill, but our 4 cocktails came out to 66 euro (although we left him a nice tip). All for less than 150 euro? A steal.

    Fish Corner - this place is great. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and every dish was fresh and delicious. Carpaccio, tartare, cold lobster salad, catch of the day, all excellent. As most people know it's tucked in an alley so the setting is maybe the only slight drawback, but the food and service more than made up for it. Highly recommended.

    Bonito - this is probably the most polarizing dinner for me, and it was for our anniversary. First, I made reservations well in advance but was told I could only get one of the prime spots with a harbor view if we arrived at 6:30pm. This just felt a little strange because the place was completely empty until 7, and even when we left around 9 there were plenty of empty seats around. Not a huge deal, but it just felt odd to be the only people there when it felt like we could have gotten those same seats later in the evening. Anyway, the drinks were great (the famous Sex in the Bath and Beauty and the Beast) and the ceviches and tiraditos were all very good (Ceviche Cilantro being the highlight). Lobster risotto was also very good, as was the Tres Leches dessert. Really no complaints about the food, drinks or atmosphere. What felt a little off was the service. Even though we reserved in advance, arrived early, and were one of maybe 3-5 tables there until 8pm, it felt like they were trying to get us out of there ASAP. Nothing too pushy, but they didn't seem to like that we weren't ordering everything at once, coming back several times to ask if we were ready to put in our mains even though we said we were in no rush. We ordered drinks, watched the sunset, ordered a bottle of wine, ordered ceviches, then another starter, THEN put in our mains. The server seemed pretty put out by that, which just felt disappointing since this was our most expensive meal of the trip at around 300 euro. Maybe it was my high expectations as I really wanted to love Bonito, but I went away feeling a little bit disappointed. This is not to say it was bad, it just sort of left me cold, which was a real bummer since it was completely preventable.

    Lil Rock - great casual, old-school Caribbean beach bar. Classic drinks, great fish dishes (the seared tune creole was a highlight), and probably the best service we had all week. The server was a joy and she really brightened our day. A great spot to spend an afternoon.

    Orega - our last night meal did not disappoint. The special sushi roll with scallop and foie gras, smoked duck roll, sea bass, chocolate bomb, cocktails, all delicious. Service excellent. No complaints whatsoever. They were clearly understaffed with only two servers for a full house, but they managed perfectly as everyone pitched in. High quality & creative food, delicate flavors, friendly service. Highly recommended.

    Zion - we stopped and had lunch at the newly opened Zion while waiting for our flight out, and I have to say we were blown away. Maybe because we had no expectations, maybe because we were savoring our last meal, maybe because we stopped in on a whim... either way, we wanted to lick the plates dry on both the beet tartare with goat cheese and the mahi with coconut rice. We got there right when it opened at noon and within 15 minutes it seemed to be filled with locals, probably for the great value on the 3 course lunch (I want to say it was something like 26 euro??). Excellent food, great interior design (especially for being tucked in a strip center), tasty cocktails, excellent value. What a great addition to St Jean!

    Overall a fantastic week of dining. We can't wait to return. Hope this is helpful!

  2. #2
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 25,302

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Helpful...this is fantastic reporting. Some really Great choices and nice descriptions. Glad you are coming back.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  3. #3
    krand1 is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jan 2011 NY, NY Posts: 159

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    We had the same problem with Bonito. It was this past March, during the week of the Bucket and we were hoping that the push, push was due to the business of that week. Alas, to hear that it happened to you in June is sad and discouraging to hear. We have experienced this rush with no other restaurant in St Barths. If anything, I get a little restless sitting at dinner for too long and am always prompting my hubby to signal for l'addition. Bonito really needs to get their act together with managing the timing of the meal. I do not want to have to be director and withhold my orders at a certain pace, that's their job and if they can't manage it, there are plenty of other options. I hope someone from Bonito reads these comments because the food is really wonderful and delicious.

  4. #4
    Eve is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2008 Boston Posts: 8,027

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Hasn’t this always been the issue?

  5. #5
    andynap is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,594

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eve View Post
    Hasn’t this always been the issue?
    Yes. Sounds very familiar.


    Andy

  6. #6
    bkeats is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2010 Nuevo York Posts: 597

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    That's an impressive amount of dining out for a week. Also speaks to the diversity of options. We were there 10 days and ate out at least one meal a day and we only overlapped on four of your places.

    As as someone else says, so many places so little time.

  7. #7

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    We stayed in villa Nita in May..our very first time to the island! Loved it..would you stay there again or suggest a comparable villa..hard to beat..the view, location, amenities, oh, and did i mention that view, great price too

  8. #8
    dwtx is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2019 Posts: 16

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Nanette I found the location and the view tough to beat, especially for the price (3500 for the week). I would definitely return without hesitation but just like restaurants, there are so many villas to try!

  9. #9
    Jeanette is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2005 Cambridge, MA Posts: 7,352

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eve View Post
    Hasn’t this always been the issue?
    I don't think so. I've read two (?) posts over the last few months about Bonito feeling "rushed," but our experiences haven't reflected this. We typically dine at Bonito twice a trip because the overall experience - food, setting, service - is splendid. I hope the management reads this post and shares the concerns with their team.

    We are heading back to Bonito for our first night dinner on the island later this month.
    Liberté, Égalité, Sororité

  10. #10
    Jeanette is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2005 Cambridge, MA Posts: 7,352

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    DWTX, thank you for a very generous review.

    Le Papillon Ivre. We've dined there three times and each experience was memorable. Several of my favorite dishes weren't on the menu this year. Julie mentioned if I emailed her in advance, she would make the dishes for me. Wow. Our last meal was during high season and there were only a few tables occupied. I hope people reach these reviews and try Papillon Ivre. It is a unique and special dining experience and especially great for wine lovers.
    Liberté, Égalité, Sororité

  11. #11
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 275

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Great trip report!

    Too bad on Bonito. It is one of if not our favorite on the Island, but I do remember people bringing up the same issue as you did on here and it seems to keep some away. We have always left there saying it is some of the best service we've received on the Island and we always order our various courses spaced out there. Perhaps it's just the fact that they are over the top attentive that makes it seem as if you are being rushed or perhaps we just never realized it because personally, I have no problem telling them that we aren't ready to order the next course. Usually we aren't even sure what we want next or how many different things we will order. I much prefer the overattentive style to the staff that you never see and can't get to help you.

    The one thing I do recall is the sommelier seemingly coming over constantly to pour wine. I did have the feel of him trying to get us to buy another bottle more so than trying to rush us out. I know that they seem to have basically two seatings at the rail for reservations. We always do the early one because of the view and we have always been a little late without a problem. Maybe for reservations they will only take them for the two times (is it 6:30 and 9:00???) and that is why they told you that even though it ultimately ended up with a lot of empty seats. To each his/her own. With so many places on the Island we all get to pick our favorites and the also ones we don't frequent as much - see any Maya's thread ever!!!!

    Loved all your other reviews as well. Maybe it was the mood I was in but I kept picturing myself at all of the spots eating what you were describing and felt like I was sitting there myself enjoying them too!!!

  12. #12
    DrD is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Nov 2015 Posts: 9

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    We also dined at Le Papillon Ivre on our first night on June 25th. We enjoyed all of the small plates (and there were many between the 4 of us!). The wine selection was great as was Julie. She explained all of the dishes thoroughly and made sure we each had a suitable wine to our taste. Will definitely go back as this was a Great first night dinner after traveling all day!

  13. #13
    krand1 is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jan 2011 NY, NY Posts: 159

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Our experience with Bonito was definitely NOT over attentiveness. There is a huge difference. They rushed us throughout the meal from bringing our appetizers before we had even gotten half way thru our cocktails, before we had even looked at the wine list. I hate having to drink my pre-dinner cocktail with my appetizer. They then set down our main courses 60 seconds after taking appetizer plate away. I wrote a review about it after the experience. I am obviously still rankled!

  14. #14
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 25,302

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    All these peeves help make me more appreciative of a professional staff doing the job correctly and making it look easy and providing a memorable dining experience. Touché and bravo/bravo to those who do it well.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  15. #15
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,397

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by krand1 View Post
    I hate having to drink my pre-dinner cocktail with my appetizer.

    PREACH!

  16. #16
    marybeth is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2004 Pittsburgh, PA Posts: 3,272

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis View Post
    PREACH!
    Ditto! And while I hate doing it...I will absolutely hold back on ordering so the meal is correctly paced.

  17. #17
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 6,214

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Occasionally, restaurants are professionally enough staffed to put yourself in the hands of your server, but typically servers have to be managed.
    Easy to manage the rhythm of your meal seated at the bar. Like at L'Isola.
    But at a table, it usually requires more management effort. Like putting a pest of a server off while you're enjoying your apéritif or cocktail and perusing the menu and wine list.
    Fils du Sud - Ministre de la Santé

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

  18. #18
    dwtx is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Feb 2019 Posts: 16

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    I want to clarify something about Bonito, because I hate being critical of service (that job is really tough) and I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression. The server wasn't rude, and if the restaurant had been full the service probably would have felt pretty normal. I'm also not a fan of our typical American-style food service where you're interrupted every couple of minutes, so part of this is personal preference. What threw off the vibe was that the restaurant was basically empty for most of our meal, and yet they kept coming back and physically placing the menu in front of me asking what we'd like to order next. When I said we weren't sure or needed more time, they were of course accommodating, but I still felt (and saw) both the server and the sommelier lingering literally 10 feet away behind the bar for the entire meal. It sort of felt like trying to have a romantic dinner in a fishbowl. If it had been a packed house then that might have felt like attentive service, but for some reason it just threw us off and we felt a little rushed and awkward rather than relaxed. Again, not a huge deal and not something that would prevent me from recommending Bonito to others (particularly for drinks and ceviche), just disappointing given the night (our anniversary) and the expense.

  19. #19
    stbartshopper is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2013 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. Posts: 7,961

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    The reason Bonito tells us we have to come early to secure a harbor view table is because they don’t reserve those- first come, first served. Even though they take reservations, they never know what time or how many walk-ins will show up and there are only several prime harbor view tables. We have had similar experiences with both few diners and many with very good food but average service. Bonito is one of the restaurants we seldom go to because it is expensive and service therefore should always be outstanding.

  20. #20
    Jim A is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jan 2017 NY Posts: 275

    Re: June Restaurant Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by dwtx View Post
    they kept coming back and physically placing the menu in front of me asking what we'd like to order next.
    That's not cool and over the line from service to rude. Too bad. Like I said before, for us, when we go out for a nice meal we never really order everything at once and force them to go at our pace and often times even add another round of appetizers before we order out main course, but a customer shouldn't have to feel the need to do that. Part of good service is knowing when to pull back. I know they get a late crowd often and maybe want to cycle through those tables but if they start pushing out their early patrons it's going to hurt them in the long run.

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