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Help me narrow down St. Martin choices

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My husband and I will be traveling to St. Martin in a couple of weeks for 4 nights. I've read up on some of the posts here, and I'm having difficulty choosing! Since our stay is relatively short, I'd appreciate help narrowing down the list. Also, should I make reservations now (2 wks prior), or is it fine to ask the concierge once we arrive?
Thanks in advance.

Here is the list:

Le Pressior
Bistro Caribe
Le Planteur
Spiga or Il Nuttuno (we only want 1 Italian - which is better?)
Calmo's Cafe

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  1. One of the best meals we had in St. Martin was @

    La Vie en Rose
    Harborfront, Marigot (upstairs)

    "One of the finest French restaurants on the island, intimate and romantic ambience with an extensive menu including lobster bisque, fresh foie grass, and fondant chocolate cake."

    The concierge should be able to help you w/ a reservation...
    What part of the island are you staying on?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ciaogal

      thanks ciaogal. i have to add it to the list. we're staying at the westin at dawn beach, but we are renting a car and we are willing to venture out every night for our meals.

    2. We ate at Il Nuttuno and loved great food. The calamari was some of the best I've had. Finished it all off with some aged Grand Marnier. Haven't been to Spiga and had planned on going there but it was closed when we visited. I'll second La vie en Rose as well very good french food.

      1. We stayed at the Westin too and had a great time.Your choices so far are great.

        I posted on this board on our return:

        Le Pressior and L'Escapade were our best choices on our visit. Truly outstanding.
        Our experience that Calmo's cafe was a very fun place with atmosphere but food was OK...not in the caliber of the others. Il Nuttuno was always packed when we passed by.

        Don't forget the Pizza shop just down the road from the hotel and the fun Tues night street fair in Grand Case. Check out the forums on tripadvisor.com where they have some good "local expert" responders.

        It was not available while we were there due to a strike but do try to get to the place mentioned in Conde Nast on Pinel Island where they literally pluck the lobsters out of the sea when you order. It's supposed to be great!!!

        We were not very impressed with La Vie en Rose at all....all Americans from big hotels and cruises. Very touristy. Very average food. I don't know where that quote was from but it may have been from one of the restaurant's own ads.

        I may get a lot of slack for this but it's been my experience that many Concierges (except in the very finest of hotels or intimate family run inns) get compensated for their referrals. Therefore, they don't necessarily have your best interest in mind. They will not send you to the off the beaten path gems or specialty locations. They definitely get kickbacks for tours and jewelry store referrals. We found better ones on our own (Jewels by Love is the best!).

        There ar e 2 concierges at the Westin, one that works for the hotel and one that represents the excursion companies. Neither of them knew of some of the restaurants we learned about on these boards. they did send us to La Vie en Rose. Find the phone numbers on your own, you may need it when you have them book.

        There are absolutely no restaurants worth the trip to Phillipsburg. The restaurants in the Westin are not worth the $$ for dinner. The cont. buffet is not listed on the breakfast menu but available for half the $$ and is good and fresh. Mr. Busby's (the name is different at night) was pretty good for a casual Italian beachside, dinner when you feel like going right down the beach from the hotel. In addition, there's a little gourmet market at the marina across the parking lot from Mr. Busby's who said they would be opening a small French bistro on the dock. It may be open by the time you get there. Please report back.

        Have a great time!!

        1. I can vouch for Spiga. It is very good and the owners are very attentive to food quality and service. Calmos Cafe has great atmosphere, feet in delightful sand, and is a much more casual daylight drinks place than the others you have mentioned, but it is worth the visit. Sunset drinks at Calmos and dinner in Grand Case are an option for adding more "experience" to a short stay. All of your selections sound wonderful! Please report back.

          1. Reporting back after our stay last week.
            Le Pressoir was amazing - loved everything from start to finish, and that is rare.
            Il Nettuno was very good as well. I recommend the Tagliatelle with seafood (fruits di mare) -my husband ordered this and it was by far the best seafood pasta I have ever had. I live in NYC, so that is saying a lot!
            We ate great lobster on Pinel Island. I am not sure about the name of the restaurant - there are only 2 choices - blue umbrellas or yellow umbrellas. We ate at the blue, and it was very good. It was a lovely lunch and fun afternoon in the calm waters there.
            We decided to go lower key on the last day and went to the little plaza area in Orient Bay. We ate at the Tex-Mex place. It was decent, but not outstanding compared to those I mentioned above.
            I also stopped by at Baywatch (one of the lolos on the beach) for lunch one day. Very fun, as the owners are quite entertaining. Good if you want American food on the beach.
            Thanks all for your input! I had a great experience.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nych

              Thanks for posting back!!! One of the beauties of St. Martin/Sint Maarten is that it is never the same place twice. Glad to hear you had some exceptional meals on your vacation...

            2. Just got back yesterday...try:
              Bistro Nu- Marigot (hard to find, but the only one we hit every year);
              Bistro Caribe- excellent
              Hidden Forest Cafe at Loterie Farm- try this for lunch or dinner- great setting and superior food- this is now my wife's favorite
              La Chappelle- Orient Bay- bistro type food
              Spiga- very good
              California- one of best on island,
              and don't forget the lolos at Grand Case- good food for little money
              Baywatch- best beach bar/food on Orient Bay Beach

              1 Reply
              1. re: packers

                I'll be in Marigot next week, "Packers", so tell me how to find Bistro Nu and why you go every year.

              2. We have been going to Grand Case for the past 8 years, over this time Le Pressoir, Il Netunno have always been consistently terrific, this year Il Nettuno, with the gnocchi appetizer was amazing, but my absolute favorite is Le Cottage, the Chef there this year understands food in a way that one rarely encounters. If you go have the scallop main dish! It was a profound culinary experience! I would say you can problably wait to make the reservations, but why take a chance, if you know where you want to try most of these places you can go on-line. Enjoy!

                1. Le Pressoir is excellent. Il Nettuno is good - great location on the water, ask to sit at table closest to the water. We love Calmos Cafe during the day for lunch/drinks and you can also sit on the beach on their lounge chairs. I am not sure how busy it is in the summer, but I would make reservations at Le Pressoir since it is the best in Grand Case. Don't bother going to Le Cottage - we were not impressed at all.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LifeisGood58

                    We have been visiting Saint Martin for twenty years, and Bistro Nu is the one place we have consistently returned to on each visit. It's a tiny restaurant, housed in a traditional Antilles wood-framed building on a side street in Marigot. The owner greets you at the door and takes your drink order. While you are reviewing the extensive menu of traditional French appetizers, soups ,salads and entrees, the owner returns, schlepping a large black board listing the specials of the evening. The place is tiny, yet it turns out stunning French cuisine that would rival any other bistro in the world. It's convivial, as though the diners all know they have discovered something special that few other people in the world know about. The diners chat among themselves, and from one table to the next. And it's reasonably priced. If it were better known, the larger, more expensive operations at the the big resorts and Dutch-side timeshares would be put to shame. Don't tell anyone, but this is is true jewel, and it's one of the reasons we keep returning to Saint Martin, year after year.

                    1. re: Indiesurfer

                      Any advice about Le Cottage? And do any recent travellers know if it is closed temporarily in June?