Bora Bora Reccs?
I realize this post is from 2007 but I read it before we visited Bora Bora last week. I thought other folks would find it useful too & so I am keeping the thread alive.
Mai Kai was a pleasant surprise; it’s a 15 minute walk from Bora Bora’s downtown, Vaitape off the beaten path a little but well worth the trek. The bread arrived and instantly I knew we were in for a treat. Its half biscuit, half bread roll with rosemary and parmesan flecks; we emptied the basket in 5 minutes! We started with a lentil salad with foie gras; a perfect way to start lunch on a hot, humid day. The foie gras was cooked perfectly; vanilla infused carmelization on the outside, buttery smooth on the inside and an occasional crunch of chunky sea salt. While the foie was absolutely the star of the show I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t impart how well it paired with the soft lentils, onions and lemon dressing. It really was that good. For the main course I had the ‘Poisson cru’ and again the chef surprised us by supplementing the tuna with parrot fish and paper thin slices of green chilies. The parrot fish added texture, the chilies added depth but showed restraint and it all came together into an almost perfect plate of food. One little niggle, the Poisson cru was slightly under seasoned. That said, we are looking forward to going back for dinner.
Bloody Mary’s on the other hand was a study in highs and lows. It definitely feels like a tourist trap complete with the obligatory photo wall of random celebrities, gift shop and phallic “objects” in the men’s room. The salad was drenched in a ranch like dressing, the tuna kebabs were overcooked, the shrimp kebabs were raw and the famous calamari steak was over-breaded and so overcooked it was chewy. Then the mesquite mahi mahi arrived. It changed everything. The marinade was so masterful that the bold mesquite flavor was front and center but somehow it did not upstage the delicate flavor of the fish. It was grilled to perfection too. Moist, well-seasoned and real depth of flavor, the mahi mahi is easily one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had. Now if I can just forget everything else about the experience.
Villa Mahana did not live up to the hype. Chef Damien Rinaldi had two tasting menu choices: Mediterranean and French. We should have picked the Mediterranean option as the other menu we could have tried anywhere in the world. My mistake. The “french” tasting menu included a sea food salad, foie gras with boiled potatoes, lobster risotto, filet mignon with gnocchi & a warm chocolate cake. The food was just OK; I like my risotto a little creamier (I have noticed many places are cooking their risotto a lot more al dente these days, is this a new trend?) The gnocchi was ‘heavy’ and neither of us were WOW’d. For $600+ (including two wine pairings) I wanted to be WOW’d.
Good luck...we ate most of our meals at our hotel the Bora Bora Nui - restaurants outside the hotel were sooo uninspired (both the cheap and expensive places) The Nui's upscale restaurant was not good (albeit fantastically beautiful - like most things in Bora Bora), but their regular restaurant was quite good - fresh broiled fish, sushi, fresh fruits, incredible pastries (courtesy of the pastry chef flown in from France.) We were satisfied to take most meals there, sand in our feet and enjoy the spectacular scenery. The St Regis and intercontinental were not open when we were in FP a couple of years ago - they sound like they're worth a try. I'm jealous!
Maybe this isn't too late?? Food is $$$$$$ everywhere in F.P. However, for an evening meal, I went to a little place that sits right in front of the Intercontinental. Right along the road. Don't know the name but it's great and not expensive. It's been 3 years since I was there. I found taking advantage of the breakfast buffets were great. I saved/(sneak) some cheese, fruit, yoghurt to the room and had that for lunch. Then went for dinner. You can also take things with you from home. Granola, tuna, P.B. and anything packed/sealed Even 1 bottle of wine for each person!! Yes, AVOID Bloody Mary's! Don't forget the 45% sunscreen! :) KQ
Make every effort to get to La Villa Mahana. On the very expensive side, but worth every penny. You can email the chef/owner Damien Rinaldi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for a reservation, just make sure you tell him when you're interested in going and where you're staying (he sends a car to pick you up). We want to visit a few of the other islands next time we head back to FP, but we're considering going to Bora Bora for a day just so we can have dinner at Villa Mahana again.
I would avoid Bloody Mary's. My husband and I are not picky eaters, but we really didn't enjoy anything we had there. We found the poisson cru at La Bounty to be just okay, but we ended up going there for lunch on several occassions. We enjoyed the pizzas, they provided a nice change to all of the seafood and rice. We had a great lunch at Restaurant Patoti. My husband had a warm salad with bacon and potatoes that we still talk about and I had an interesting version of chow mein.
Are you going anywhere else in FP? If you have the opportunity and are on Tahaa or Raiatea, make sure you go to Chez Louise, it was probably the most unique dining experience of my life.