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Any Recent St. Barth Eating?

Has anyone been to St. Barth since Summer? Any new places or thoughts about old places? Will be there first week of January and am starting to plan my meals.

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  1. Hi - I just returned from St Barth yesterday, and I was going to write up a big report, but I'll give you the short version here.

    To give you context, we live in Napa Valley and love great food, and eat out often. We travel to France about once a year and eat everything from street food to Michelin 3 stars.

    Here were our favorite places:

    La Plage: great casual food in one of the most idyllic beach settings. Very friendly and very fresh, with wahoo tartare with ginger stealing the show. Desserts were also great. Lounge atmosphere, but no pretense.

    Francois Plantation: absolutely off the charts! We were told that a very famous Parisian michelin 3 star chef is now basically consulting. I can't name any names. Classic french high end gastronomy, with an emphasis on purity, with each dish having a rare exotic take, usually presented in a dish on the side. Poulet de Bresse stood out, with the classic breast meat in brown sauce, but with the thigh confited, chopped with foie gras, and tossed with potatoes and brown sauce! Absolutely delicious! Wine choices are phenomenally good, but very expensive (no surprise).

    The Hideaway: (Andy's) Really casual and friendly. Good but not great pizza, but very enjoyable nonetheless. we also had the Salade Perigourdine, with Gesiers Confit, Magret fume, and foie gras, which was nostalgic and very good. Wine choices are dismal.

    Eddy's: We had heard mixed reviews, so we stuck to the Creole specialties, and we loved it. Shrimp curry and the green Papaya salad were totally decadent, rich, and delicious. very good value.

    The let-downs:

    SandBar at the Eden Roc: Ambitious food that was just not very good. It looked good, sounded good on the menu, but just failed to deliver. We had the Wagyu beef salad, wherein the beef was surpisingly tough and chewy, plus flavorless, and another unremarkable salad. I'd choose La Plage over this place any day. Great view of the beach and very friendly service, but huge prices, too. Wine list is good: we had a 2005 Chablis from Fevre 1er cru for 70 euros that was great.

    Wall House: I'm sure the 5 course was a good deal, but we just weren't that hungry, so we ordered a la carte. It was decent, but somewhat dissapointing. The plus side: the leek salad with beet juice dressing! This is really nice and simple french country cooking. Then we had a Daurade that was mediocre, and a (whole!) Squab with brown sauce from the rotiserrie. The pigeon was good and small, and cooked well, but not exciting. The real disappointment was the dessert cart, which looked enticing, but the choices were simply scooped off the cart and slapped onto our plates instead of being warmed and plated in back with accompaniments. It felt like eating leftovers. Overall a solid B, but we expected more.

    Alas, we never made it Le Sapotillier! Too full from Francois Plantation!!!

    Hope that helps, and have a great time!

    3 Replies
    1. re: mhirby

      Thanks for the report! We have been to St. Barth a couple of times a year for the last few years and have eaten at all the places you mention except La Plage. I keep hearing good things about La Plage and plan to try it out this trip. Other new places we want to try are Trois Forces and the new edition of Santa Fe. Did you eat at the new place on the harbor next to Baz Bar? I think it's called Le Bistro or something like that.

      1. re: ddavis

        No, sadly we didn't make it to Le Bistro, Santa Fe, or Trois Forces. Santa Fe was recommended by the people at Francois Plantation, as it seems the new incarnation was started by the former sommellier from Le Sapotillier. Le Bistro was introduced to us as the place to go (get hammered at) before Le Yacht Club. I heard that Les Trois Forces has a very well-priced wine list.

        1. re: mhirby

          On the St. Barth boards I frequent, Le Bistro has taken a beating. Santa Fe is the current darling. We plan to make it to Santa Fe and Trois Forces on this next trip. Will let you know how they are. Your review makes me want to eat at Francois Plantation again, although I remember the prices from several years ago and it still scares me! Le Sapotillier is one of our favorites also. The new owners, Maud and Stephane, had just gotten there when we last ate there in July of 2006 and it was as good or better than before. We will check it out again (if I don't run out of meals!).

    2. We were there in November, with many revisits to old favorites that we still love - Sapotillier, Eddy's, Palace (a real gem!), Andy's, Au Port (still excellent under new ownership). New stops were Trois Forces for lunch and Sante Fe for dinner. The latter is now a must-stop for dinner or lunch. Maya's was still closed, so were not able to return there.

      4 Replies
      1. re: terrycatch

        What was your take on Trois Forces?

        1. re: ddavis

          I think it is hard to discuss restaurants in St. Barts and not talk about Maya and L'espirit de Saline. I think Maya is the best restaurant in St. Barts and a top restaurant for me in the world. L'espirit in my opinion is fantastic, but not as good as Maya. The reason why Maya is so good is that the food is so simple, yet has remarkable flavor and diversity. You never know what you are going to get because Maya changes the menu everyday, based on what's fresh. The one caveat is that there are a few restaurants on the island like Eden Rock, Toiny and Francois Plantation that are much more of a traditional french high end experience. On a side note there was a great panini place that I heard just closed called Coco lobo.

          1. re: jdpatricof

            Curious as it's been years since I was in Barths...what is the price for two mas o menos for Maya??

            1. re: phelana

              jdpatricof makes the argument for Maya's that is made by those who like it, and that is a lot of folks. I am in the other camp (very possibly the minority) that thinks Maya's has been living on its reputation for years. For me, there are just too many other places I like better to use up one of my limited meal slots by going there. That being said, if you have never been to St. Barth and never been to Maya's, it is such a tradition (a recent poster on a St. Barth site ludicrously compared it to the Statue of Liberty!) that you should give it a try.

              I haven't seen the menu for this season, but a menu from April 17 of this year has starters ranging from 16 Euros ($24) to 19 Euros ($28.50). Main courses were 29 Euros ($43.50) to 42 Euros ($63). Desserts were 10 Euros ($15) to 11 Euros ($16.50). So, one could get the least expensive starter, main and dessert for $82.50 ($165 for two) without drinks or gratuity. (Of course, gratuity is, according to the menu, "at your discretion" since it is, after all, a French island.)

      2. there was a wonderful French/creole restaurant on top of the hill--I forget the name--they served a lobster salad with mango which was superb--anyone remember this restaurant--I believe 3 star Michelin rating??Happy Holidays everyone-

        1. we just returned from st. barths and there is one change to report. (it's actually a year old, now, but last year we went to hawaii instead of st. barths -- that won't happen again!). the chef from le gaiac at hotel le toiny has started his own restaurant -- le tamarin. it's near saline beach, just over the hill from st. jean. in our opinion, le gaiac has suffered for its loss. service is still first-rate, but the menu doesn't have the depth it did. le tamarin has everything le gaiac lost -- a killer tasting menu, excellent wine list that was built with the specific menu in mind, and food that will make you slump in your seat after the first bite, and just moan with pleasure. be advised, however, despite the caliber of the menu and cooking, le tamarin has a much more casual atmosphere than its culinary peers. service is excellent, but not as formal as you'll find at francois plantation or le gaiac. for the quality of its food, though, le tamarin is already on our list of musts when we're in st. barths.

          1 Reply
          1. re: miss_ross

            We have heard about Le Tamarin for years but never tried it till last January. I don't know if the former Le Gaiac chef was there then, but the food was outstanding. We only did lunch there the day we were leaving and wished we had found it sooner. We didn't make it back when we were back on the island in July because we just assumed, without asking, that they were closed for the summer. We found out at the last minute that they were open but we couldn't make it. We'll be back down the first week of January and will certainly make it for dinner this time.

          2. We visited SB Nov. 25- Dec. 12.With the EU viz $ ratio we chose fewer high-end restaurants than usual, but were not disappointed in the cuisine.Nov. 29 was only our second visit to Trois Forces in 10 years.Ten years ago the cleanlines of the dining area was a disgrace, and the aged red wine was too heavy to be enjoyable.Hubert's escargot,and beef tenderloin bordelaise were memorable and I ordered them again this time.I'm glad to report that the interior of the restaurant was cheerful and clean this time and the wines were excellent.(I did not choose them).The parking lot is quite rough with many wrecked mopeds and scooters lying about but it's worth the trip, I believe.

            We chose La Plage twice due to atmosphere and live music provided by Papaguyo.On my second visit I had my first less than stellar meal there, which was the shrimp risotto.It was quite dry and chewy.Other than that, I highly recommend La Plage and agree that it is superior to Sand Bar, which we used to enjoy but stopped visiting a couple of years ago after the meals tended to be rather average.
            A newer place for us was le Bananiers, next to Petit Colombe Bakery in Colombier.We were the only patrons there the first Monday night, and our charming waitress was near tears.However, the rack of lamb with garlic mashed potatoes was the best version on the island and I dined on rack of lamb at Wall House and La Plage as well.Lovely garden with romantic lighting, too.
            We did try Le Bistro one Friday night.There were eight at our table, but the service was fine.The food was not outstanding, and the menu was limited, which accounted for my choice of beef once again rather than something more exciting.I can't complain, however, and the music was fine and bar area were a convenient gathering place for our group.
            There was a lovely Birthday lunch at Sereno one afternoon.The restaurant and pool area are elegant and the service thoughtful and friendly.With 22 people at the table the champagne and rose were constantly refilled and we had the whole menu to make our choice.Seafood is the specialty there and excellent.I had the dover sole, which is popular at many restaurants in SB and could not have been better.
            We ate at Eddy's twice.I believe he hired a new chef in Nov. 2006, so there is more than the creole on the menu.Both times I had the sashimi plate, as I am particular about seafood and don't like it overcooked or any steaky type of fish.Eddy's smells wonderful and is lovely looking as well.
            Le Tamarin has been around for years, but has changed owners and chefs several times.Nevertheless, the food has been consistently good.On the Sunday we had lunch there,the clientele were mainly locals and even the bar area across the lawn under the tamarin tree was busy.All of us had seafood and my friend had the shrimp risotto which was the perfect flavor and consistency.I had a lovely salad with seared tuna and avocado.The fashion show put on by Poupette was entertaining.The only new addition there which wasn't very impressive was the new above ground pool with stairs a la Hooterville water tower.
            Pi Piri Palace, Andy's, le Vietnam and Saladerie rounded out our dining experience.We intended to see Santa Fe but waited too long and it happened to be closed Monday dinner and all day Tuesday.