Bermuda Report (mostly Southampton) -- VERY LONG
1. Coconuts -- We are normally scared of places that claim to be "romantic." This was truly romantic (it's set on the beach or you can choose to eat on the beach) and the food was incredible -- lots of interesting choices for all types of eaters, both adverturesome and boring. The prix fixe was actually a bargain compared to other restaurants in town. The only downside to this meal was that it took about 45 minutes to run our credit card inexplicably.
2. Waterloo House -- this was probably our second best meal while on the island, but it didn't really come close to Coconuts in my book. The food was VERY inventive -- I had the corn risotto followed by a wonderful lamb preparation, and my husband had a bermuda tomato gazpacho followed by local tuna. The tuna was a bit overcooked for my husband's "barely seared" request, but at least it was local and fresh. (Why people eat flown in frozen seafood is beyond me.) However, the restaurant was a lot more "formal" and while looking at a beautiful marina, we're really much more into casual. The food also was not in my book as good as Coconuts on the whole. Our waitress here was great.
3. Bailey's Ice Cream -- After eating at Swizzle Inn on our way to the airport, we stopped at Bailey's for some ice cream. I'd been dying to try the dark and stormy ice cream since I first read about it here, and it didn't disappoint. (FYI, you can also get Bailey's at the airport in the US Departures lounge, but they don't have the rum and ginger flavor.)
1. Newport Room -- We wound up with a meal comped here by the hotel, but if I'd been paying, so it was very lovely and we enjoyed some wonderful wine off an extensive list. Everything as fine and adequate, but nothing truly sent me the way some of the items at Waterloo and Coconuts had. The room also has a funny smell (from no windows and years of AC -- very damp smelling), which to me is an appetite inhibitor.
2. Swizzle Inn -- We had the Chipotle Burger and some chicken fingers here along with our rum swizzle. There was absolutely nothing wrong with them. I still don't get the deal with rum swizzles -- dark and stormies are WAY better in my book so I'm not sure why all of the bars in Bermuda have abandoned that as its national drink. It was a perfect stop on the way to the airport since it's about 3 minutes away.
3. Breakfast buffet at Fairmont Southampton. Windows on the Sound is a beautiful room. Not sure why they only use it for breakfast, which was an okay but not fantastic brunch. We had it included in our room rate, but I'm not sure I'd otherwise use it. The staff at breakfast was all great. The Bermuda buffet on Sunday was interesting, but it suffered from the same problem as the weekday brunch -- they have no way of keeping food hot in the trays they set out. They are made of sterling and do not really close so everything is cold before it leaves the tray. The cold stuff and fresh waffles/omelets are fine.
4. Wickets @ Fairmont Southampton. Not great, but passable for hotel food if you need a quick lunch. MUCH better than the restaurant at the beach. They also serve breakfast here and for some reason the buffet here (if you're paying) is less than at Wickets, though they have identical items.
1. Henry VIII -- we went here on recommendation of my husband's boss, who travels to Bermuda annually. Unfortunately, later learned he goes for the entertainment more than the food. I ordered pasta on recommendation of the waitress since I was looking for something lighter. My recommended pasta was linguine with tomato sauce that's not as good as the stuff I use when I'm desperate out of a can. My husband had the steak au poivre, which was tolerable. I sent mine back and since I was now scared of the menu, got one as well.
2. The restaurant at the beach at the Fairmont. No explanation needed here. A strategy if you are staying there (which I wouldn't again) -- head to the beach early before it's crowded, eat breakfast at the tale end of breakfast and then head to another beach or another activity -- the Fairmount beach is a mob scene and totally not pleasant in the afternoon. It's beautiful up until about 11.
3. Jasmine at the Fairmont Southampton. Night 1: We want drinks. Seeing no waiter approach, my husband gets a menu from the bar, and asks if a waiter will be serving us at the table. Told yes. 10 minutes later, still no sign of one, so we finally order drinks at the bar. NEVER any sign of a waiter. Day 3: After a morning of boating, it's started raining. It's already 1:30, so we decide to wait until 3, when tea service starts. The place is a mob scene. We find a table. My husband finds a waiter, who comes over 10 minutes later and tells us that he'll be taking our order in 45 minutes to an hour, and that's okay right (because he had 2 tables ahead of us -- give me a break that it takes THAT long). I told him it was not and we left.
I'm glad you enjoyed Waterloo House even though it embodies traditional Bermudian formality (I grew up with it so I'm used to it ;)) I've heard very good things about Coconuts - must try and get there.
Your experience of the Fairmont Southampton doesn't surprise me, it has the homogenised feel of a global chain. Places like the Reefs (Coconuts) and Waterloo House are Bermudian owned and, to me, present our deep sense of hospitality far better that the big hotels.
I admit to being very partial to the Swizzle's rum swizzles - I find dark and stormy's a little too potent and reserve the black rum for soaking fruit for Christmas cake.
I wish the Fairmont had a "homogenized" feel... unfortunately, it was definitely subpar to my stays at other chain hotels (both in terms of food and service)! If you like to have any meals at your hotel at all (which most people do for convenience at some point), I'd stay elsewhere. There are a variety of dimensions on which this place failed on service in addition to mediocre food.
Athena, I meant to thank you for your recommendations both directly and in older threads. It's great to have a local's take on where to eat in town when you're traveling somewhere. I really appreciated you mentioning the risotto because the way it's listed on the menu at Waterloo House you could easily miss it -- they tend to list things by a single ingredient as opposed to the overall tenor of the dish, and while there was corn in the dish, it was really much more of a sweet accent than a corn focused dish. And I cannot recommend Coconuts enough. A lovely choice -- and if I were staying at the Reefs, I feel like there were enough options that I really would not have been bored eating there for several nights.
An addendum to my previous post: We had an okay lunch at Tio Pepe. I think their dinner menu is somewhat different. It was hot, and we had walked there and ate outside, so we didn't eat much -- a chicken paillard and a mozzarella & tomato thing. The chicken paillard was incredibly moist and the seasonings very flavorful. The mozzarella was okay, but not worth ordering again. A nice little lunch spot, but I'm not sure if I'd go back for dinner.
I think I got the impression Henry VII was a given since your husband's boss recommended it so much, but I'm sorry I didn't chime in on it. I was there some years ago (with a big group after the Bermuda marathon) and while it was okay with a fun group of people, I would never recommend it to anyone just for the food.
I'm glad you liked Bailey Ice Cream. I went there four times in five days last trip.
Another place I liked very much was Fat Man's Cafe. It's a very, very small place on the #10 bus route and it has no menu and one table. The specialty is the fish cake and it was among the best I've had in Bermuda. If you return, I highly recommend searching it out for a very local lunch.
One cop recommended a place called The Green Lantern, sort of northwest of the main bus depot. I hope to look for it next year.
We are repeaters at The Reefs but went to BDA for a long weekend in June to see my cousin who sailed in on his yacht. The food in St. Georges was terrible: Cafe Clio, Tavern and White Horse Tavern. Swizzle Inn near Grotto Bay was bad. Lobster Pot in town horrid. We did not have ONE GOOD MEAL in BDA. Back to The Reefs and Cambridge Beaches.