Saturday, April 20, 2013

St. Maarten/St. Martin (Dining)

We spent 11 days visiting the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin in March of 2013 for our honeymoon.

This blog entry will cover the many restaurants we experienced throughout our trip.

The dining scene on St. Martin is well-known for being one of the most impressive and famous in the Caribbean. The island is considered by many food experts as being the food capital of the Caribbean. Although the island is just a mere 37 square miles big, there are an astounding 400 plus restaurants to choose from! This made it quite difficult for me to narrow down exactly where we were going to eat. I literally had several dozen too many choices! During my research, I consulted Trip Advisor as well as referencing my two guidebooks (Frommer's Portable & Fodor's In Focus) to narrow down the long list. Being that the island has both French and Dutch influence, most of the restaurants are European, although many have a Caribbean flare.

Although there are restaurants located all over the island, there is one town in particular that receives more accolades and dining praises than any other, which is Grand Case. This tiny town has been thrown into the international spotlight from its famous "restaurant row" where dozens of high end dining establishments line Boulevard de Grand Case. We ate nearly half of our meals in this lovely town, located on the French side of the island. If you make your way to Grand Case, beware of the parking situation; the town has just one small lot which tends to fill up very quickly. Arrive early or else you will find yourself driving in circles attempting to find street parking along with dozens of others! On Tuesday evenings during high season (January to April), Boulevard de Grand Case is closed off to traffic due to the weekly Harmony Nights festival which involves a parade, musicians, street food, and local vendors. If you happen to be in St. Martin during these months I highly recommend that you make an effort to experience this lively festival.

No matter where we ate dinner on the island, we noticed that most restaurants didn't fill up with patrons until 8 PM or even later. We actually preferred to eat earlier, typically around 6:30-7:00 so that there would be at least some daylight left. It is recommended to always make your dinner reservations in advance; most restaurants allow you to complete your reservation via email but a few require that you actually call to make the reservation over the phone. All of the restaurants we visited had staff that spoke both French and English, so there is no need to worry about any language barriers.

The one commonality we found at every restaurant we visited was that they all had some form of seafood on the menu and it was always of excellent quality. Seafood lovers will love this island!

Food in general on the island is expensive no matter where you go. Most restaurants on the French side use the Euro (although a few places will allow you to pay using cash U.S. dollars at a one-to-one exchange rate) and all the restaurants we ate at on the Dutch side used the Dollar. If you want to experience fine dining on the French side, be prepared to spend at least 100E for one appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert.

For our first few nights out, we got conjured into ordering bottled water. However, after tasting the tap water at our condo, we realized it was completely unnecessary to be ordering 7 Euro bottles of water. The tap water on the island is clean and tastes great! Also, be aware that a service charge is sometimes included on the bill so always double check before tipping!

In addition to being well know for its plethora of fine dining establishments, St. Martin is also famous for its abundance of barbecue stands, referred to locally as lolos. You will see these lolo stands all over the island. Two of the more famous ones are located on Restaurant Row in Grand Case and several more are located near the harbor in Marigot.

To save some money, we utilized the grocery store for breakfast and snack items. Although the pricing at the grocery stores on St. Martin is much higher than you would pay back home, it's still obviously less expensive than what you would pay for a meal out.

Below is a list of the restaurants we ate at on our trip, organized by the French and Dutch side, and finally by each city. Further below you will find a detailed review of each place.


French Side:

Grand Case:
Mont Vernon:
Orient Bay:
Baie Nettle:
Marigot:

Dutch Side:

Cupecoy:
Simpson Bay:
Philipsburg:
Dawn Beach/Oyster Bay:



La Villa:
This incredible French restaurant is located along Grand Case's famed restaurant row and is the top rated restaurant on the entire island per Trip Advisor. Due to the restaurant's popularity, I made sure to make our reservation several weeks in advance on their website. Like with most of the restaurants on the island, La Villa features open air dining and exposed wooden rafters. The restaurant is dimly lit, which makes for a romantic dining experience for most, but a photography nightmare for me.
Exterior of La Villa
La Villa
La Villa
La Villa

To start our evening we were provided an amuse-bouche of a cold vegetable soup. This was crisp and delicious and Shyawn and I had fun trying to discern exactly which vegetables were used to create the soup.
Amuse bouche at La Villa.
Enjoying our meal at La Villa.

Unlike most of the fine dining restaurants on the island, La Villa offers its guests a prix fixe menu. This great value includes your choice of any soup or appetizer, any main course, and any dessert for 49 Euro per person. Additionally, La Villa was one of the few restaurants in Grand Case that allowed a 1 for 1 exchange for Euro to Dollar, making this prix fixe menu an even better value.

For an appetizer, Shyawn selected the Lobster Ravioli with a lightly flavored ginger cream sauce. The pasta was very delicious and Shyawn commented that he wished there had been more ravioli to eat!
Lobster Ravioli at La Villa.

Choosing my appetizer from the menu was quite easy. As soon as I saw the listing for Crab Meat Profiteroles with avocado guacamole and fresh tomato tartar it was a no-brainer as both crab and avocados are two of my top favorite food items. This dish was definitely one of my favorites of the entire trip. The crab, avocado, and tomato that were sandwiched between two layers of pastry melded together in perfect harmony. I ate this dish as slowly as I could, savoring every single bite.
Crab Meat Profiteroles at La Villa.
Crab Meat Profiteroles at La Villa.

For my entree selection, I went with the Seared Black Pepper Crust Tuna Steak with soy and sesame oil sauce, asparagus tip risotto, ginger, and wasabi. This dish was yet another standout on the trip. The tuna was incredibly delicious, moist, flavorful, and, of course, paired perfectly with the wasabi. I also thoroughly enjoyed the asparagus tip risotto which was a soothing reprieve to my palette from the spicy wasabi.
Seared Black Pepper Crust Tuna Steak at La Villa.

Shyawn's entree choice was one of the specials of the evening, the Red Snapper Fillet Roll with Lobster, mashed plantain, fennel sauce. This was yet another strong and memorable dish.
Red Snapper Fillet Roll with Lobster at La Villa.

Our visit to La Villa happened to occur on a Tuesday, which is when the weekly Harmony Nights festival occurs. From January through April, this weekly event features a street festival as well as a parade with live music and dancing. We were able to view the parade from our seats and one of the costumed women came into the restaurant enabling me to snap a few pictures of her beautiful costume!
Harmony Night in Grand Case.
Harmony Night in Grand Case.
One of the performers from Harmony Night in Grand Case.
One of the performers from Harmony Night in Grand Case.

After the excitement of the parade, our desserts arrived. Shyawn chose the Hot Chocolate Cake with melted center, vanilla ice cream while I went with my personal French dessert favorite of Hot Chocolate Profiteroles filled with vanilla ice cream and grilled almonds. If you ever find yourself in this restaurant, please do yourself a massive favor and order the hot chocolate cake. I can assure you beyond a reasonable doubt that you will be thankful for this tip. The chocolate cake was incredible in every way; the cake was moist, warm, extremely rich, and the chocolate center that came oozing out of the cake was beyond decadent. The vanilla ice cream on the side was a nice addition to help subdue the richness of the chocolate.
Hot Chocolate Cake at La Villa.
The ice cream portion of the Hot Chocolate Cake at La Villa.

My profiteroles were quite delicious on their own, although it is slightly unfair to compare as they just couldn't even come close to the hot chocolate cake. You'll have to eat these quickly as the chocolate sauce on top is as the description indicates hot and the ice cream melts quite quickly.
Hot Chocolate Profiteroles from La Villa.

La Villa lived up to its number one rating on Trip Advisor. Overall, it was definitely the best meal we had on the entire trip. Every single dish was amazing and if you only have time for one restaurant while on St. Martin, make sure its this one!


Le Pressoir:
Located inside a restored 19th century Creole cottage in Grand Case, this wonderful and charming restaurant serves its patrons beautifully presented food that combines both traditional French and contemporary cuisine.
Le Pressoir
Le Pressoir
Le Pressoir
Le Pressoir
Le Pressoir

I loved the container that the butter was placed in for the bread service.
Butter for the bread service at Le Pressoir.
Bread service at Le Pressoir.

For an appetizer, we decided to split the Fricasse of Langoustines with baby veggies and reduction of lobster broth. Although we did not request this, the restaurant literally split the appetizer into two separate portions, which was a nice gesture. This appetizer was very delicious and a strong start to our meal. The langoustine was cooked perfectly and paired wonderfully with the lobster broth. Additionally, there was some sort of crispy noodle that was served with the dish creating not only a unique presentation but also providing great texture when eaten with the rest of the dish.
Fricasse of Langoustines at Le Pressoir.
Fricasse of Langoustines at Le Pressoir.

For our entrees, we both decided on the same dish, the Crispy Grilled Mahi-Mahi Fillet breaded with cruesli, and saffron sauce. Although it is quite unusual for us to order the same dish, we both love mahi-mahi and saffron and neither one of us could pull ourselves away from ordering it! Every aspect of the dish not only looked great, but also tasted delicious. The fish was cooked perfectly and tasted great with the accompanied ratatouille.
Crispy Grilled Mahi-Mahi Fillet at Le Pressoir.
Crispy Grilled Mahi-Mahi Fillet at Le Pressoir.

Prior to dessert arriving, Shyawn ordered a Cafe Latte in an attempt to perk himself up which he stated was extremely good and of the best quality.
Cafe Latte from Le Pressoir.

We decided to split dessert and went with one of their daily specials. Unfortunately, I misplaced the receipt that the restaurant had so kindly written down the name and details of the dessert. The dish was a medley of fruit slices, raspberry sauce, a tiny piece of cake with apple gelee, and a chocolate dipped marshmallow. It was all very delicious, especially the fruit and the cake.
Dessert from Le Pressoir.
Dessert from Le Pressoir.
Dessert from Le Pressoir.

Le Pressoir is a great choice for those looking for a wonderful and intimate French meal in Grand Case. It was one of our top five favorite restaurants on the island.



Le Bistrot Caraibes:
This restaurant, specializing in French and Caribbean fare, is located along Grand Case's restaurant row and is known around the island for its fresh lobster.
Le Bistrot Caraibes
Le Bistrot Caraibes
Le Bistrot Caraibes

For my entree, I selected the Fettuccine with Royal Shrimps in a light garlic sauce. The delicious pasta was homemade and the shrimp was perfectly cooked.
Fettuccine with Royal Shrimps at Le Bistrot Caraibes.

For his entree, Shyawn went with the Roasted Beef Tenderloin with vegetables in a peppercorn sauce. His beef was very flavorful and moist and the accompanied dishes (vegetables and potato) were also very delicious. 
Roasted Beef Tenderloin from Le Bistrot Caraibes.
Potato side dish from Le Bistrot Caraibes.

Shyawn ordered an espresso after dinner, which he indicated was very good.
Coffee at Le Bistrot Caraibes.

We decided to spring for dessert, and went with the Hot Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. The cake was incredibly moist and flavorful but wasn't quite as good as the Hot Chocolate Cake from La Villa. Still delicious, nonetheless.
Hot Chocolate Cake from Le Bistrot Caraibes.

After dinner, we checked out the restaurant's lobster offerings for the evening.
Live lobsters outside of Le Bistrot Caraibes.
Le Bistrot Caraibes


Spiga:
Of the many restaurants located in Grand Case, the majority specialize in French cuisine. However, there are a few that don't including an Italian restaurant called Spiga. The restaurant features both indoor and outdoor dining within it's beautiful 1914 Creole building. We opted to sit outside since the weather was so pleasant that evening. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the interior and exterior of the restaurant so I have none to show you.
Bread service at Spiga.

Shyawn and I did not arrive to the restaurant with empty stomachs so much to my disappointment we felt we only had enough room for an entree. He chose the Gnocchi Gorgonzola (potato gnocchi, spinach, gorgonzola cheese, cream) while I went with the highly recommended Pappardelle Pork and Italian Sausage (pappardelle, pork tenderloin, Italian sausage, and mixed mushroom ragu). Shyawn enjoyed his dish, but the real standout of the evening was my pappardelle. The sauce was incredibly delicious and flavorful. Given the amazing depth of my dish, I had wished in hindsight that we had arrived hungry and been able to try some of Spiga's appetizers and desserts. Additionally, this restaurant offered a 1 for 1 exchange for Euros to Dollars, which made it so much more affordable than most of the other high end restaurants on the island.
Gnocchi Gorgonzola from Spiga.
Pappardelle Pork and Italian Sausage from Spiga.


L'Auberge Gourmande:
Located within one of the oldest homes in Grand Case along restaurant row, this restaurant specializing in traditional French fare, was the only minor dining disappointment of our dinners from the trip. The restaurant was recommend not only in both of our guidebooks but also on Trip Advisor, having been rated the second best restaurant on the entire island. As a result, we went into our dining experience with very high expectations.
L'Auberge Gourmande

The interior of the restaurant was beautifully decorated, evoking a very warm feeling with it's dark wood beams and bright yellow walls.
L'Auberge Gourmande
L'Auberge Gourmande
L'Auberge Gourmande

For an appetizer, we split a serving of French Onion Soup topped with grilled Swiss cheese on top. The soup was good, but definitely not the best French onion I've had.
French Onion Soup from L'Auberge Gourmade.
Bread service from L'Auberge Gourmade.

For his entree, Shyawn selected the Duo of Sea-Scallop Saffron Sauce and Jumbo Cajun Sauteed Shrimps served with a mushroom parmesan risotto and vegetables sauteed in garlic parsley butter. While he enjoyed the saffron sauce atop the shrimp, he indicated that his shrimp were overcooked which was very disappointing.
Duo of Sea-Scallop Saffron Sauce and Jumbo Cajun Sauteed Shrimps at L'Auberge Gourmande.

For my own entree I went with the "Supreme" Breast of Tender Chicken delicately filled with a Swiss cheese, topped with a morel sauce, and served with gratin dauphinois. Everything within this dish tasted good but it was nothing spectacular nor particularly memorable.
"Supreme" Breast of Tender Chicken at L'Auberge Gourmande.

As we received our check, we were also given two small complimentary shot glasses of the house made rum.
Housemade rum from L'Auberge Gourmande

Maybe we didn't pick the right items off the menu or maybe we were there on an off night. However, given our experience at L'Auberge Gourmande, we wouldn't eat there again on a future trip.



Talk of the Town:
Probably the most well-known lolo on the island, this very popular and busy BBQ stand is located among the fine dining establishment's of Grand Case's restaurant row. This particular lolo is always packed at dinner but we stopped by for a quick lunch so we didn't have to contend with the crowds. We split a plate of BBQ Chicken Breast with a side of Rice and Beans, which cost just $9 (all of their prices are listed in Euros but they accept a 1 for 1 exchange). The food was extremely delicious so it's no wonder why this place is so popular with both locals and tourists!
Talk of the Town BBQ Restaurant.
Talk of the Town BBQ Restaurant.
BBQ Chicken Breast and a side of Rice and Beans at Talk of the Town BBQ Restaurant.


Sol e Luna:
This beautiful restaurant, located just past Orient Bay, was one of the highlights of our trip. We ate here on our first evening on the island making the experience extra special. Sol e Luna not only operates as a restaurant but also as a guest house, offering several different suites to rent. As soon as we walked into the restaurant, we were blown away with the setting. The interior space looked immaculate and looked as though it was fresh out of the pages of a magazine cover. No detail was spared and every square inch of the restaurant was visually stunning. It was the most romantic setting I had ever seen before and was so excited that we were going to be eating there!
Exterior of Sol e Luna.
Sol e Luna
Sol e Luna
Sol e Luna
Sol e Luna
Sol e Luna
Sol e Luna
Sol e Luna
Sol e Luna

We were seated on the wrap-around porch. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was already dark out but I read that the best seats in the restaurant are on the porch as they offer an amazing view of the surrounding area.

Once seated, we perused the drink menu and I decided to order the Exotic Martini (Grey Goose Vodka, peach and passion fruit liqueur and lime juice) while Shyawn went with the Espresso Martini (Absolute Vanilla, patron xo cafe and a shot of espresso). My martini was amazingly delicious; I sipped my drink quite slowly to try and enjoy it for as long as possible. Shyawn said his martini was good but nothing too special.
Exotic Martini at Sol e Luna.
Espresso Martini at Sol e Luna.

For an amuse bouche, the restaurant served a chilled carrot soup, which I found to be surprisingly delicious considering that I don't normally care for carrots!
Amuse bouche at Sol e Luna.

We were also given a basket of beautiful bread, which tasted as good as it looked. We both helped ourselves to several servings of the soft and crusty warm bread.
Bread service at Sol e Luna.

We decided to split the Lobster Bisque (topped with puffed pastry and almonds) for our appetizer. The puffed pastry created such a beautiful presentation of what would otherwise be a relatively boring dish. The pastry was incredibly delicious, especially with the bits of almond on top. The soup itself was also very good although it was moderately difficult to enjoy given that it was 75 degrees outside.
Lobster Bisque at Sol e Luna.

For my entree, I selected the Beef Tenderloin Angus (Agrodolce sauce, french potatoes puree, green beans, garlic, parsley, and butter). The beef was amazingly tender and flavorful and paired wonderfully with the agrodolce sauce (which is a sweet and sour sauce) as well as the mashed potatoes. I was in foodie heaven! Unfortunately due to the dark lighting at the restaurant I had difficulty capturing the beef in a clear shot so its slightly blurry.
Beef Tenderloin Angus at Sol e Luna.
Beef Tenderloin Angus at Sol e Luna.
Beef Tenderloin Angus at Sol e Luna.

Shyawn chose the Jumbo Shrimps Flamed (brandy, peppercorn sauce, herbs, arugula risotto, asparagus, warm spinach). His entire dish was fantastic, from the tender and juicy shrimps to the delicious risotto that I couldn't keep my fork out of. His entree was likely the highlight of our meal at Sol e Luna.
Jumbo Shrimps Flamed at Sol e Luna.

At the end of our meal we were each brought a shot glass of the house made rum, this one being made with passion fruit which was incredibly yummy!
House made rum at Sol e Luna.

Sol e Luna was in our opinion hands down the most romantic restaurant on the entire island, and likely the most romantic restaurant we have ever been to! The food was wonderful, the decor was stunning, and the atmosphere was comfortable and unpretentious. Definitely make sure to schedule one of your dinner meals here!


Bikini Beach Bar:
Orient Bay is lined with multiple restaurants and beach bars. We did not go out of our way to select Bikini Beach Bar, rather we happened to park nearby and it was the very first restaurant we saw along the beach. We wanted a simple meal that would enable us to enjoy a view of the beautiful ocean and beach and this place definitely fit the bill.
Bikini Beach Bar in Orient Bay.
Bikini Beach Bar in Orient Bay.
The beautiful view from our table at Bikini Beach Bar in Orient Bay.
The beautiful view from our table at Bikini Beach Bar in Orient Bay.

The restaurant serves a large variety of food ranging from Thai to tapas to American fare to some classic French bistro options. Shyawn ordered the Hamburger while I went with the 1/2 Chicken, which came with fries and a salad. Had we known how massve the size of the lunch entrees would be, we likely would have only ordered one. The food was good, but nothing outstanding. The real reason to come here is to enjoy the amazing view.
Hamburger and Fries at Bikini Beach Bar in Orient Bay.
1/2 Chicken with fries and salad at Bikini Beach Bar in Orient Bay.
The view of Orient Bay from Bikini Beach Bar.
The view of Orient Bay from Bikini Beach Bar.
View of Bikini Beach Bar from the beach at Orient Bay.
View of Bikini Beach Bar from the beach at Orient Bay.


La Cigale:
This warm and charming French restaurant, located along Baie Nettle, is unique for its setting, which overlooks the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The restaurant feels very private as it is tucked away and almost hidden behind a hotel. Luckily we arrived while it was still light out so we were able to spot the sign from the road but apparently it is common for most guests to miss the sign completely and have to turn around.
La Cigale

We had an early reservation so we were the first guests to arrive. While Shyawn enjoyed a cappacino, I wandered around the property, soaking up the beautiful view and taking lots of photographs. The restaurant offers open air seating within the restaurant as well as having several tables below the palm trees with a direct water view. We opted to be seated in the restaurant as it offered slightly better lighting.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
Outdoor seating at La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
View of the lagoon from La Cigale.
La Cigale
La Cigale
La Cigale
Shyawn enjoying the view at La Cigale.
When making your reservations for La Cigale, pay close attention to the sunset times. We thought that the sunset on our particular visit was beautiful, but our waiter showed us a photo on his phone of a sunset from just a few weeks prior that was about 100 times as impressive. Regardless of if you are provided with a regular sunset or a stunning one, make sure that you get there in plenty of time to enjoy the views.
Sunset view at La Cigale.
Sunset view at La Cigale.
Sunset view at La Cigale.
Sunset view at La Cigale.
Sunset view at La Cigale.

To begin our meal, we were brought an amuse-bouche of a cerviche made with tilapia. To be honest, I was hesitant to try this as I am not a fan of tilapia, but this was surprisingly quite good and refreshingly crisp. In fact, I would have loved an even larger portion!
Tilapia Cerviche from La Cigale.

As always, we were provided with complimentary bread service.
Bread service at La Cigale.

Both being huge lovers of salmon, as soon as we saw that there as an appetizer listing for Salmon Carpaccio (gravelax, homemade brioche toast and garlic cream sauce) we agreed in unison to order it! Luckily, this was a wise decision. The salmon was fresh and flavorful and the garlic cream sauce that accompanied it was truly delicious. This was one of our favorite appetizer dishes of the entire trip!
Salmon Carpaccio at La Cigale.
Salmon Carpaccio at La Cigale.
Brioche Toast served with the Salmon Carpaccio at La Cigale.

Shyawn ordered the fish special of the evening, which was Sea Bream which came atop a bed of risotto, asparagus, and other vegetables. The presentation of the dish was beautiful and colorful and the fish itself was very moist.
Sea Bream at La Cigale.
Sea Bream at La Cigale.

For my own entree I selected the Black Angus Beef Filet Mignon "Rossini" with morels sauce and onion compote. The beef was good, though not the best of the trip. The red sauce was rich and flavorful and paired well with the beef. I also thoroughly enjoyed the layer of deep fried mashed potatoes that the beef was placed atop.
Black Angus Beef Filet Mignon at La Cigale.

Overall, our experience at La Cigale was quite wonderful. It wasn't necessarily the best food of the entire trip (exception being the Salmon Carpaccio appetizer) but the amazing views and peaceful ambiance made it a very special place that I would whole heartily recommend to any visitor.


Mario's Bistro:
This lovely waterside restaurant is located just outside of Marigot in an area that overlooks the Sandy Ground Bridge. I made sure to request a waterside table when I made our reservations as they are often booked in advance.
View from Mario's Bistro.
Shyawn perusing the menu at Mario's Bistro.
Mario's Bistro
Sunset view from Mario's Bistro.
Sunset view from Mario's Bistro.

For our appetizer, we ordered the special, which was a combination sushi and sashimi dish, placed atop a bed of local seaweed. Unfortunately, I forgot to have the restaurant write down the name of the dish in its entirety. This plate of food was incredible. The fish was fresh and everything went together so perfectly. This was one of the best appetizers of our entire trip.
Sushi appetizer special at Mario's Bistro.
Sushi appetizer special at Mario's Bistro.
Sushi appetizer special at Mario's Bistro.

For his main course, Shyawn went with the Pad Thai with Caramelized Duck, Shrimps & Peanuts. Being that we are from Seattle, we have a plethora of Thai restaurants to choose from, even just miles from our house. Unfortunately, Shyawn wasn't overly impressed with this dish and commented that the noodles were a bit dry.
Pad Thai with Caramelized Duck, Shrimps & Peanuts at Mario's Bistro.

My main entree, on the other hand, was simply amazing. I had read many raves reviews for the Sauteed Jumbo Scallops and Grilled Jumbo Shrimps with Crab Mashed Potatoes, Leek Tempera, Lobster Sauce & White Truffle Oil. This was likely the best entree of the entire trip. The lobster sauce combined with the white truffle oil was indescribably delicious. Both the scallops and the shrimps were cooked perfectly. The crab mashed potatoes were extremely satisfying, especially when paired with the sauce. And finally, the leek tempera provided an additional level of texture that helped to perfect the dish. If this is on the menu, just trust my judgement please and order it. You will not be disappointed!
Sauteed Jumbo Scallops & Grilled Jumbo Shrimps with Crab Mashed Potatoes, Leek Tempera, Lobster Sauce & White Truffle Oil at Mario's Bistro.
Sauteed Jumbo Scallops & Grilled Jumbo Shrimps with Crab Mashed Potatoes, Leek Tempera, Lobster Sauce & White Truffle Oil at Mario's Bistro.
Candle lit dinner at Mario's Bistro.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the dishes at Mario's Bistro, even though the Pad Thai wasn't spot on (maybe it was a bad night?). The two other dishes we had completely overwhelmed us and because of that I would rate this one of the best restaurants on the island.


Rosemary's Restaurant:
This lolo, located in Marigot facing the ferry port and marketplace serves traditional Creole food. We were looking for a place to eat lunch at and there were several lolos that were trying to lure us in. We ultimately went with Rosemary's Restaurant after she showed me that her restaurant had been reviewed in the New York Times by Anthony Bourdain, a food expert I highly respect.
Rosemary's Restaurant
Rosemary's Restaurant

To drink, Shyawn ordered a Presidente, which seemed to be a popular choice on the island.
Presidente at Rosemary's Restaurant.

Shyawn ordered a plate of fish, which came with salad, rice, vegetables, and plantains. I requested the Roseys (rosemary infused baked chicken, which also came with salad, rice, vegetables, and plantains). Both of the dishes were amazing and the best part is they were each only $11 and $12! A great bargain for the quality and the quantity of food we received!
Fish Plate at Rosemary's Restaurant.
Rosemary Infused Baked Chicken at Rosemary's Restaurant.

Set within the grounds of the Loterie Farm in what can best be described as a treehouse, this wonderful eatery should be a must stop for every visitor who comes to Marigot. The restaurant which serves a wide range of international fare, is well known not only for the quality of food served, but also for their beautiful presentation skills.
View from Hidden Forest Cafe.
View from Hidden Forest Cafe.
Hidden Forest Cafe
Watch out for the friendly chickens at Hidden Forest Cafe!
Hidden Forest Cafe
Hidden Forest Cafe

I had a difficult time deciding on what to order for lunch but ultimately went with the Asian Tuna Summer Roll in Rice Paper with Shallots and Wakimi Soy Sauce. This was an excellant choice; the tuna was fresh and flavorful and the rolls themselves were refreshing and light, yet also filled me up. It was a pleasant change of pace from the heavy French fare I had been eating throughout the trip.
Asian Tuna Summer Roll in Rice Paper at Hidden Forest Cafe.
Asian Tuna Summer Roll in Rice Paper at Hidden Forest Cafe.

Shyawn, ever the burger man, ordered the Hamburger with Fries. I was quite surprised when I took a bite of his burger to discover that it was actually very good. The meat was of very high quality and moist and flavorful. The fries were cooked perfectly and tasted great.
Hamburger with Fries at Hidden Forest Cafe.


Temptation:
Located within the Atlantis World Casino, this fancy and innovative restaurant serves contemporary French and Carribean fare and has received many accolades. I did not have my DSLR during our visit as were were going out that night and obviously didn't want to be lugging around the huge camera. As a result, all of the photos this night were taken with my iPhone and didn't turn out as well.
Tempation Restaurant

We both ordered a cocktail to drink: I had the St. Maar "tini" (peach schnapps, grey goose, cranberry, and passion fruit juice) while Shyawn had the Classic Martini (gin, dry, shaken, dirty). Both of the drinks were very good and a fun way to start our meal!
Martinis at Temptation Restaurant.

Instead of serving the typical bread and butter service, Temptation does something different, providing its guests with focaccia and a basil-infused oil which was utterly amazing. The focaccia was served warm and soft and soaked up the basil oil perfectly. I believe we had our waiter bring us out at least two additional servings of this delicious bread!
Basil-infused olive oil at Temptation.
Focaccia bread at Temptation.

It was tough to make a decision for our entrees because there were so many great dishes to choose from, but I ultimately went with the 4 Hour Braised Certified Angus Beef Shortrib (red wine caramelized shallot glaze, gouda soft polenta, and market vegetables). The beef was so tender that just a gentle nudge from my fork would result in it falling apart. The sauce was rich and flavorful and went well with not only the beef but also the gouda soft polenta.
4 Hour Braised Certified Angus Beef Shortrib at Temptation.

Shyawn ordered the Lobster Paella (Cognac-garlic sauteed Maine lobster tail, Chorizo, Merguez, clams, calamari, mussels, and saffron basmati). This dish had some of Shyawn's most favorite food items (seafood and saffron) so needless to say he was quite happy with his choice!
Lobster Paella


The Taste Factory:
We discovered this lovely bakery in quite an unusual way; while at Mullet Bay beach on the Dutch side of the island, a vendor was passing out flyers for a bakery located near Simpson Bay. Typically, I wouldn't have given even a passing glance to such a flyer but since it was a bakery it piqued my interest. After we went back to our condo I did a little research online and saw that it had a ton of reviews on Trip Advisor with an average rating of 4.5/5. The following day we decided to visit for lunch. The indoor seating only bakery is quite large and offers a ton of choices in both the pastry and sandwich department.
Pastries to choose from at The Taste Factory.
The Taste Factory

Shyawn ordered some sort of a Toasted Panini sandwich covered with cheese on top, which he indicated was quite good.
Toasted Panini at The Taste Factory.

I decided to not only order a simple sandwich of bread, proscuitto, and mozzarella cheese but also one of their Passion Fruit Raspberry cakes. The cake was very good and went down quick and easy. My sandwich was simple and delicious, exactly what I was looking for at the time.
Passion Fruit Raspberry Cake at The Taste Factory.
Proscuitto and cheese sandwich at The Taste Factory.

I would definitely recommend The Taste Factory to those in need of some delicious treats or those looking for an inexpensive lunch option in the Simpson Bay area!


La Sucriere:
Located literally just a few stores down from The Taste Factory, this popular bakery has a second location on the French side of the island in Marigot. As with The Taste Factory, we stopped in one day for lunch. La Sucriere offers its customers seating outside on their deck which has a beautiful view of the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
La Sucriere
La Sucriere

Shyawn ordered a Ham Sandwich, which was made fresh to order.
Ham Sandwich at La Sucriere.

Being a huge croissant lover, I, of course, requested a few as well as a Strawberry Tart. The beautiful croissants were good, but not quite up to the caliber of Parisian-style croissants that I so adore. The tart was tasty, but not quite as tasty as I had hoped for.
Croissants at La Sucriere
Strawberry Tart at La Sucriere.

The best part of our experience at La Sucriere was not actually the food but the amazing view from its back deck. I would say that the quality of food is much better at The Taste Factory but if you are looking for a relaxing place to enjoy a simple lunch with a wonderful view then headed to la Sucriere.
Back deck at La Sucriere.
Beautiful view from La Sucriere.


Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant and Bar:
Over the course of our 11 days on the island, we had many amazing meals. However, there was one meal in particular that will always stand out in our memory as being horrendous. Unfortunately, Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant and Bar has been given this distinction. We stopped in on a whim after we learned that the only way to access Simpson Bay Beach was via a resort or restaurant. The restaurant is located within Mary's Boon Beach Resort overlooking Simpson Bay. From first appearances, the resort appeared beautiful and had an amazing view of the water.
Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant & Bar
Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant & Bar

Shyawn ordered a mojito to drink, which you would think would be difficult to screw up. Unfortunately, Mary's Boon managed to do just that. It was not in the least bit good and was extremely sweet. Fail number one.
Mojito at Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant & Bar
Shyawn ordered a fish sandwich and fries. The menu indicated that the fish sandwich came with tartar, which would make sense considering its main component is fish. However, when the sandwich arrived there was no tartar to be found on the dry bread. Shyawn informed the waitress of the issue, assuming it had accidentally been forgotten. The waiter informed us that they were out of tartar. We found this a bit perplexing for two reasons: one, why would a restaurant that has numerous fish options be out of an important sauce and two, why when he placed the order was he not informed that they were out of the sauce? The waiter's indifference further irritated us. Even worse was that the sandwich was not good. Fail number two.
Fish sandwich and fries at Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant & Bar.

But the best worst was yet to come. I decided to order a bowl of tomato soup as I just wanted something light.  When the soup arrived, I thought it looked rather dark and even a bit chunky instead of smooth, as tomato soup always in. As soon as I took a bite it all made sense; my soup was not a soup but rather a marinara sauce. DISGUSTING. I was hungry and could only manage to take a few small spoonfuls before I had to put it to the side. Fail number three.
Tomato soup at Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant & Bar.

The only good thing about the restaurant was the amazing view from its deck. Otherwise, it was a complete and utter disappointing bust.
Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant & Bar
Mary's Boon Tides Restaurant & Bar


Taloula Mango's:
Located along the Philipsburg boardwalk, this happening restaurant is a fun place to spend some time enjoying the beautiful view of Great Bay as well as participating in some great people watching. The restaurant has two floors and the best spot is up on the second floor deck, where we managed to snag a table. There was a live band playing directly below us across the street from the restaurant further increasing our enjoyment.
Taloula Mango's
Taloula Mango's
Taloula Mango's
Shyawn enjoying the view from the second floor of Taloula Mango's.
The view from Taloula Mango's.
The view from Taloula Mango's.
The view from Taloula Mango's.
The view from Taloula Mango's.

Shyawn ordered a few beers (which were actually priced quite reasonably) and we split a pizza, which was much better than I had anticipated it would be. There are tons of places that visitors can choose from along the Philipsburg boardwalk to enjoy a beer and some food but Taloula Mango's definitely has the best view!
The view from Taloula Mango's.
The view from Taloula Mango's.


Mr. Busby's Beach Bar:
Located on Dawn Beach, this popular beach bar and restaurant by day transforms into the more formal Daniel's by the Sea during the evening hours. We stopped in for an early lunch one day to enjoy the oceanside views. I had a yummy frozen pina colada while Shyawn had a beer and we split the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich which came with a side of rice. The sandwich caught us both by surprise as it was actually very delicious, which we had not expected from a beachside restaurant.
Mr. Busby's Beach Bar
The view from Mr. Busby's Beach Bar.
The view from Mr. Busby's Beach Bar.
Enjoying my pina colado and the amazing view from Mr. Busby's Beach Bar.
Mr. Busby's Beach Bar
Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and rice from Mr. Busby's Beach Bar.


Mama Pizza:
This casual and family friendly pizza restaurant is located in Oyster Pond, which is directly next to Dawn Beach. We passed the restaurant nearly every day on our drive to and from the condo and finally decided to eat there during our last night on the island. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of quality, but I was pleasantly surprised with the restaurant especially its affordability. They offered about two dozen different types of Italian pizza. We ended up ordering the Royale pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms) which was very delicious.
Mama Pizza
Mama Pizza
Mama Pizza
The Royale pizza from Mama Pizza.
Mama Pizza

Up next: Day-Trip to the island of Anguilla.

5 comments:

  1. Looks like some incredible and utterly memorable meals which is amazing for how small the island is (and most of the Caribbean islands too for that matter). While the institution of colonialism obviously wrought its many wrongs on the colonized nations, one can't deny the incredible culinary influence it had!

    I loved seeing the many restaurants that are located in restored historical buildings, and the bright tropical colors only add to their allure!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I found your blog today and love your entires on St. Martin. It is great advice to someone heading to St. Martin. It makes me feel like i've aready been :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. These entries on St. Martin/Maarten have been such a great resource for me! I really appreciated the awesome photos and great detail. Headed there this summer!

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  4. My husband and I will head for St. Martin for the third time next month, and I can't get enough of your blog! Incredible photos, and excellent recommendations. We look forward to trying a few of your restaurant selections soon!

    ReplyDelete
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