A la carte
Starters £18.00 - £20.00 | Mains £30.00 - £50.00
Cooking 5.5/10 | Service 3.5/5
Flavour 3.5/5 | Value 2.5/5
How many places do you know which provide diners with water pistols, and refill them on request? Not actually required at dinner time, but on the same spot one also breakfasts. While admiring the shimmering azure of the sky blending into the iridescent blue of the Caribbean* it's easy to fail to notice the pesky little birds trying to nick stuff from your table. Once they realise that your pistol aim is true, they bother you no more, a similar argument to the nuclear deterrent, I suppose.
Anyway, it seemed churlish not to test the hotel kitchen for one night at dinner. Prices initially look frightening till you realise they are in Barbadian dollars. Two of them for one US. Divide by 2 and multiply by 0.8, and it becomes (slightly) less scary. (You could of course just multiply by 40%, but it took a while to work that out.) Having said that, five star hotels are never cheap. Was it worth it?
We'd been here for a few days by this time, and had got into the Caribbean* rhythm, helped by the easy charm and ready smiles of all the staff. That made it much more disconcerting when the maitre d' passed us on to Agnes. I'm not sure what sort of bad day she had been having, but our early impression was of having life sucked from us as surely as if we'd encountered a Dementor outside Hogwarts.
The style of menu changes daily. On Wednesdays they do a barbecue, for those still standing after the cocktail party. (We'll write about that another day.) Today was a fairly classic offering. A smoked duck breast, served warm, was nicely done. Chef neither desiccates food nor does he serve things nearly raw, a la Masterchef. Cold smoked barracuda sounded interesting. We're familiar with gin being used as a cure for salmon: other alcohols are available. Unfortunately they chose Pernod or something similar here. It's one of the few flavours which I actively dislike, and it wasn't enhanced by some tartare sauce.
Things improved when it came to mains. For one, Agnes rejoined the human race. You choose a main and two sides. Rack of lamb was done to perfection. Chimichurri sauce isn't my favourite, but it made a terrific crust. We remembered just in time that Agnes had forgotten to bring the tabbouleh, a perfect accompaniment. Asked how I wanted my tuna cooked, I left it to the chef and got a nice medium rare slab, dotted with black and white sesame seeds. The sauce on the side was stunning - lime, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and soy, I'm guessing. The accompanying veg were forgettable.
I don't score on ambience, but an evening view of the white of the surf contrasting with the navy of the sea and sky, followed by a stroll back beneath the waving Macarthur palms and past the wonderfully named Yesterday Today and Tomorrow plants takes some beating.
* Actually, Barbados is in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean. Hey ho.