Baie Long Beach, St. Martin, 2nd half of February
Hi folks. Hoping for some insights. We will be staying at a villa and would like to know where to go for groceries (for breakfast grub, bread, cheese, greens, fruit, charcuterie, olives, etc.) and chow. The board doesn't seem to have anything fresher that 9-12 months old regarding St. Martin. Are there any places that we must try? Where to go to buy wine and rum? We will be 3 adults and 2 teenagers all of us love to eat and enjoy and are well travelled. Is it easy to get around to both Marigot and Grande Casse? What are usual dining hours? We like to mix high and low dining so don't hold back on your recommendations. I really appreciate in advance any help you can give.
Just got home from St Martin and I would tell you to rent a car and explore! There is a nice French Deli/pizzaria on the main rd around Marigot for foie pate. The lolos in Grand Case are good cheap casual food. Higher end, we went to La Montemarre by the Atlantic Casino and it was YUMMY! They had a foie gras soup that was to die for!
Buy liquor in Phillipsburg. Grand Case has a Friendship Night on Tuesdays; chock full of street vendors and performers and lots of fun. One of the French restaurants sold Paella to walk around and eat that was outstanding.
La Vie and Rose (or was it Ma Vie and Rose?) in Marigot is outstanding. people eat a bit later than the states.
Other than that I ate on the Dutch side where I was staying(Divi Little Bay). We walked to an from Phillipsburg several times without any hint of trouble(perhaps we were lucky but I never felt unsafe here).
Lee's Roadside Grill on the Dutch side, in Simpson Bay, has amazing grilles lobster-choose the one you like from the tank on the deck right on the bay. Grilled chicken and ribs with rice and peas, snapper, grouper...And don't forget dancing! I think they have live local music every night. Zee Best, in Plaza de Lago at Simpson Bay Marina, is zee best for breakfast and lunch. We go there a lot and sit outside under the awning-I have seen hummingbirds every single time, as I drink coffee and try not to eat all the pastry in the basket they put on the table.
I ate at Lee's on the Dutch Side, Cole Bay. Nice and Reasonably priced fish dinners with a 3 piece combo playing live music. The owner was friendly too.
We ate at Cheries at Maho Bay; they have an "over the top" performer. Good place for Burgers and Pub type food. a fun family atmosphere but definitely not if you want a quiet meal.
On the Boardwalk at Philipsburg, try Taloula Mangos for good pub food and enjoy everyone going by. There was a great fancy hotel on the Boardwalk that served wonderful drinks and appetizers and I loved it, but cannot remember its name..its Chic and trendy and if you walk into it, you'll know what I mean. A little more expensive than some of the other places but worth the difference.
We went to the Green House for happy hour and drinks one saturday night, It was quite crowded, so we had dinner at the bar and conversation and a couiple of games of pool with some locals. Fun stuff.
We had lunch and breakfast at the Divi most of the time and it was good...pastries were good at a little cafe there but not as good as those available at the French cafes in Marigot.(not even close)
Well, I'm back, and we didn't do much Chow-ing (we ate breakfast and lunch in, along with some dinners), but a few places we hit are as follows....
Simpson Bay (near Pelican Resort, where we stayed):
Topper's- recommended on Trip Advisor and in a magazine in our hotel. I was not impressed. It seemed like cafeteria food, not the fresh fish that I had expected based on what I read. It's a cute place to get some drinks though.
La Sucriere- as mentioned above, wonderful croissants! They had beignets (I think) and I kick myself now for resisting!
Anand- Indian. We had to try the conch curry (when in Rome...), and it was fine. The meal was average (except for the tandoori masala chicken, which was very good), and the place is cute, but they have a crawling critter problem. We saw at least 2.
Top Carrot- we LOVED this place. Fresh juice, delicious hummus, hearty (healthy) sandwiches, and we got a banana muffin to take on the plane with us (let me tell you, that banana muffin got us through some hard times later when we discovered our flight was delayed by 4 hours!!!).
Talk of the Town- one of the lolos. That day, they had neither lobster nor conch. I was really excited to try this place because I love dives, but I was less inspired when I saw my plate come out of the microwave. The mac and cheese was Kraft, the rice and beans dry, and the fish dry. My boyfriend's ribs seemed dry too. The johnny cakes were really good though, and the homemade banana and chocolate ice creams were wonderful. *A word of warning though: if you have a weak stomach like I do, I would take it easy and order cautiously at the lolos.
Not any mindblowing gastronomical experiences (we were in St. Maarten more for the beach!), but fun anyway!
i'm just back from st. martin, a few notes from my trip:
poulet d'orleans (in quarter d'orleans) - little white gingerbread house
(not quite as quaint as it sounds, but it def. has charm). food was delish -
their specialty is chicken (they 'grow' them right on property), but ribs
were great, as was the specialty dish with three meat items (can't remember what
they all were, but the lamb shank was unbelievable). chef is tony,
and it's usually one of his kids working. good to call ahead, he just likes
to know when to expect people to be prepared for a group, since it's quite
rosemary's (in marigot) - it's one of the lolos (bbq-ish places all over the
island) - i tried quite a few, and this one was by far the best. loved the
ribs, the creole shrimp, and the fish looked good. the rice + beans that come with everything is
addictive. and great drinks. super friendly staff, esp. rosemary, who seems
to be there all the time
the lido bbq (cole bay) - just a little shack in a parking lot where they
have a big drum smoker. it's a little hard to spot, but in the same lot
as the lido chinese restaurant, which is a little easier to see from the road.
amazing, amazing ribs (yes, i was very rib-focused). definitely a take-
out kind of place.
bistro nu (marigot, just outside the center, on the main road towards grand
case) - i didn't end up eating there,
but i poked my head in and talked to them
for a bit - super frenchy, but not the overwrought type that seems to be all
over the island, just very straighforward. very cosy, dark-ish room. friendly
owner (jean claude, i think, is his name).
coco's (orient beach) - the food is just very basic, and overpriced like almost
everything on the island. but it's the best of the orient beach places, further
down the beach and slightly apart from the other places, which is good.
they have nice tables that you can sit at under a canopy, and also beach chairs.
you'll see alot of people in 'strings' walking by.
big fish (i think that's what it's called), dinghy dock, captain oliver's (all in
oyster pond around the marina): none are particularly noteworthy, but
and all have a nice view of the marina.
not sure at all about the food at the dinghy dock, but it's a good place for
an afternoon drink.
the marina area in marigot is relatively pretty, but restaurants aren't anything
special overall (we did have some surprisingly good pizza at one of the places, can't remember name), and they are pricey. if you do feel compelled to eat in grand case,
il neptuno was pretty good italian (he's a chef who had a popular d.c. restaurant,
don't remember the name).
the two biggest are match (between marigot + grand case) and le grande
marche (kind of near philpsburg). i like le grande marche much better,
particularly because their produce selection was infinitely better. and it's great people
watching on the weekend, you get a sense of the whole array of st. martin locals,
along with u.s. people (mostly older) who must be long term villa-renters.
big wine selection.
they say you have to get to the market in marigot (wednesday + sundays)
very early, and i think that's probably true (i never made it). that's when you can
see the fish and the meat. produce stands are okay. and there's also
some craft-like booths, but it's all cheesy tourist stuff. there's a man who calls himself
'the spice man,' he makes all sorts of sauces, brand is called 'kalina', the jerk
was my favorite - you can find them in the super markets, too.
epecerie (sp?) one main road just outside of marigot (towards grand case) has great food stuffs (but i could never quite figure out their hours).
noteable on the island is the amazing selection of french cheeses (raw + very
ripe), charcuterie, and bread. for me, this is one of the top things that st. martin
has going for it.
i've heard that the best beaches are in the lowland area (near-ish to the airport) -
baie rouge, cupecoy + two others whose names i can't remember. i never made it
there. tony at poulet d'orleans recommended galeon (sp?) beach, but also never
made it there. pinel island is an easy adventure, you take a short ferry ride. apparently
there is a more deserted side of the island that you can walk to, but i didn't go.
there's snorkeling, but not great at all. there are a few beach bars there, too. orient
beach is fine (it's a very nice walk from one end of the beach to the other just before/at
sunset, when the beach has cleared out a bit), as is friar's bay beach. note that anywhere you go, they charge you for
a chair (seemed to average around $10), but you can also always just lay a towel
ma dou dou: a little shack on the way down to the pinel island ferry. it's a little hard to
find - you take the first right after you pass the pharmacy, and then go up up the hill,
over a speed bump, through a driveway that looks a bit like you are going into a resort,
and then a bit further on you see the colorful shack on your right. she makes a
great hot sauce, and also a bunch of flavored rums with hand-painted drawings on them.
i found the hot sauce and the rums at all the big supermarkets, too - but visiting the
actual place was fun (5 minutes is plenty there). hours are pretty limited, only weekdays,
and from 8 - 2 or something (i went by at two different times before i got there when they
were open on the third try).
it isn't difficult to drive around the whole island (especially if you are okay with just grinning
and bearing the traffic that you will likely encounter somewhere along the way). the drive
thru the lowlands area is pretty.
great cheeses can be found in just about any store, i found - supermarkets had large selection, as did many of the small food stores scattered around. i forgot to mention epicierie (sp?), which has what is perhaps the best 'curated' selection of specialty food items. it's on the main road, just outside of marigot center on the way towards grand case. they do, though, have limited hourse. wine can also be found in just about any of the places above. and one other thing to mention: etna ice cream. if you can find it, buy it. delish. i am pretty sure i saw it in la grande marche. and there is a small store next to big fish in oyster pond that sells it (the store is very $$$ because it's a last minute/easy stop for people getting provisions for their boats in the marina).
I found laviva's post to be accurate and informative.Orient beach is great,but nude so use discretion with kids.The supermarket she mentions is the best deal on the island.For liquor,buy it in Phillipsburg.A 1.75 liter of any liquor can be bought for between $5.00 and $10.00 dollars but dont hang around there after dark.Crime has gotten really bad in that area after dark.They hide and wait in the alleys.The lido bbq had the best ribs that I have ever had.Just a small roadside smoker/grill.On the French side there is an all you can eat lobster buffet for a very reasonable price and the food is very good.I also like to eat at the Boathouse Restaurant in Simpson Bay and Cheris Restaurant down by the airport on the Dutch side.There are a lot of places you shouldn't go after dark.Ask people in your hotel but don't take everyone for their word.DO NOT LEAVE VALUEABLES IN YOUR ROOM!NOT EVEN IN YOUR ROOM SAFE.They rip them out of the walls easily.Get a safety deposit box.To everyone who is going soon,have fun!!
I am sorry for the delay as I have been gone for a while.There are two that I have gone to.One was Captain Jacks on the French side.It was very difficult to get to by cab as the island just had a major hurricane.It cost me one hundred round trip and the buffet was only forty five dollars.The waters were four feet deep on all of the low lying roads.The place I am refering to is on the French side,but instead of taking a right beyond Simpson Bay and going through the hills towards Phillipsburg,go to the end of the road and take a left.Its in the vincinty of the outdoor market,where the ferry leaves from.I think it is in Marigot.A very pleasant woman runs the place.Because it is in a low lying area,the eating area is up a long flight of stairs.They have the buffet at least four or five nights a week.They don't advertise in the media,but they have a sign at the foot of the stairs.I do remember it was an open air,green building.On Friday night,there was excellent Calypso entertainment,which set the mood for the rest of the night.I would say the lobster tails weighed eight to ten ounces each and very,very good.Please keep in mind I am from New England. Just one more thing.I dont care to frighten anyone.However,the last time I was there,in 2005,a woman came onto the island happy and enchanted.She left on our flight with a broken leg,in a wheelchair and with multiple bruises and contusions.She was beat up and robbed in Phillipsburg after dark.As of late,this goes on all of the time.Know your surroundings.Enjoy your resort.Past the airport on the Dutch side to the left,there is an arch.Dont go past it at any time.It use to be a great place with restaurants and a eighteen hole golf course,but now it is a pirate haven.They will wait there for you.Ask anyone within your hotel.Up to the arch you are o.k.After that there are no lights and they are waiting.I stay at the Royal Islander and know the area.Good luck and I would like to know how you made out.
Sad to say crime has gotten quite bad. Take a peek at The Daily Herald online to get a feel of how things are. We spend a lot of time at Simpson Bay Marina, near the Pelican. I have been stopped by police in broad daylight and admonished not to walk alone. That being said, we've never had a problem and have many loyal wonderful local friends who'd do anything for you. Be careful and be aware. And eat a lot! Have fun.
If you have already gone to St. Martin, I would love for you to post your experience with your villa on Baie Long. We are looking at staying at Blue Beach Villa on Baie Long in July and would love your comments on that part of the island. My husband and I stayed on Simpson Bay, last year and loved it. There are 2 really good grocery stores just leaving the airport, if you haven't let yet. Any information on Baie Long and your villa stay would be greatly appreciated
Just returned from St. Martin last week and quite a few of the Grand Case restaurants were offering 1 Euro=1 US dollar (if bill paid in cash).
Just a few suggestions:
Spiga in Grand Case, excellent Italian
L'Auberge Gourmande in Grand Case, French, very good
L'Escapade in Grand Case, French, good
All above mentioned offered 1=1 exchange.
Didn't venture much to the Dutch side but there is a great lobster restaurant near the airport called Turtle Pier. Lobsters are pulled fresh from the water and reasonably priced at $19/lb.
We're in St. Maarten for Christmas, eating as much as possible on the French side as there is little comparison when it comes to food. The night life appears to be much more vigorous on the Dutch side, where we're staying.
Le Tastevin, French, very good, but $$
I enjoyed the prix fixe dinner menu, which consisted of a wonderful lobster bisque (dark and rich), the spéciale de la maison: escargots with potato -- amazing, go figure. The main course was a choice between a shrimp-scallop (perfectly seasoned) and wheat risotto (very earthy), and rack of lamb, which was among the best specimens I've ever had. The deserts were remarkable as well, a classic crème brûlée, and a cold nougat (rich and creamy). My daughter was a bit taken aback by the crab and mushroom cannelloni, which was accompanied by a rather over-the-top and perhaps too heavy herb and cream sauce.
The wine list is very impressive, and the house selections paired with each course were perfectly chosen. I was lucky, my French is passable (beyond standard restaurant French), so we were greeted (without a reservation) -- myself, my wife and daughter -- with respect, and I was rewarded with a very nice vintage port at the end of the meal. I don't think the port was part of the prix fixe menu, although it might have been.
I need to mention the ambiance: it is remarkable. The world economy is terrible as of this writing, and so the crowds were very light. No one was being rushed at all. The main dining area is completely open to the ocean, waves lapping at the sandy beach below your table. Lights twinkling across the bay, with sailboats at anchor in the distance.
If you're driving, parking is a challenge during the high season, but there's a small lot about fifty meters before the restaurant. Ask the maitre'd for directions to the parking lot. They're also open for lunch, apparently.
My wife and I go to St. Maarten every year and stay on the opposite side of the island from where you will be (Oyster Pond). For basic groceries there is a French supermarket in Marigot called Match.
There is also a smaller shop called Bounty in Grand Case. Both places will have great fresh baguettes, pastries, etc. There is also a gourmet shop in Marigot called something Epicerie, but I could not find the link just now. That is probably the shop with the highest end food products on the island.
It is easy to get around -- we rent a car. There are also lots of buses and taxis, but I don't have any experience with those. Grand Case is really just one street (albeit filled with some insanely good restaurants) that runs along the water. Marigot is bigger; there are really great places tucked away in Marigot depending on how adventurous y'all are and whether anyone speaks French (or restaurant French).
St. Severin in Marigot is, in my opinion, the best restaurant on the island for the money. There are some pretty fancy places popping up in casinos on the Dutch side that are getting good reviews (one notably helmed by a CIA grad), but my wife and I spend all of our time on the French side, so I really can't speak to that.
Bistro Nu is a cool little spot on a back street in Marigot that tends to a mostly French clientele -- they had no one there who understood any English. We got by with my little bit of restaurant French and a willingness to try some new stuff. Great place.
The lolos (open air barbeque restaurants) in Grand Case are worth a lunch for sure. Ribs, chicken and rock lobster. Cheap and pretty darn good. You can't miss them when you walk through Grand Case.
There are some nice beach bars (open air restaurants sitting right on the beach) particularly in Orient Beach. My favorite is called Cocoa Beach. Good pizzas, panini, salads, etc. Nice place for lunch.
There are some very nice, high-end French (and one or two Italian) restaurants in Grand Case, as well. They ain't cheap though, and we usually stick to only one or two dinners in places like that. Le Ti Provencal (French cooking in the Provencale style) is very good. Le Pressoir is excellent, really great, and set in a charming old Creole house, but dinner there for 4 set us back around $500 last year, when the dollar was stronger.
I could go on about this forever (and I'm heading to SXM myself in a week) but I guess that's it for now.
Emazzone and Chocolateslut - Thanks so much for your recommendations. Exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I think we'll be avoiding the Dutch side. I do speak French so that's not a problem. Question: how long a drive is it from Marigot to Grand Case? The cost for Le Pressoir scares me a bit as our family is not known for holding back, but Le Ti Provencal sounds great as do Bistro Nu, Chanticler, St Severin.
We're a bicoastal family. In NYC we really like places like Hearth, Prune, Barbuto, Gramercy Tavern, Al di La, etc. In LA we love Axe, the Mozza's, Caffe Angeli, and Angelini Osteria (we haven't yet been to Comme Ca and there hasn't been good French food in LA in a while). Are any of the above or others in St. Martin not yet mentioned reminiscent of these restaurants?
Marigot to Grand Case is 10 - 12 minutes, except in "rush" hour (haha). It's a two lane road connecting, so traffic can slow you down.
The restaurants in St. Martin have a lot less going on design-wise than the NYC spots you mentioned -- they tend to be smaller, simpler, and when possible, have an emphasis on the view. The food varies from pretty classically French (Parisian, Provencal, etc) to more Creole and island inflected.
You can expect a similarity between some of the St. Martin restaurants and the ones you mentioned in terms of the sophistication (and on occasion inventiveness) of menu. Some of the really wonderful places, though, like St. Severin, are more simple and in the bistro tradition.
Hey, my husband and I will be in St. Martin in the middle of February too!
We have been to St. Martin one other time 3 years ago.
Here is what we can recommend.
-Breakfast,in Marigot there is an amazing little place that serves baskets of French pastries and great coffee. Zee Best is the name of the cafe.
-Also at the Marigot marina is a place for wonderful pizza, just as good as we remember in Italy! Unfortunately we don't remember the name of the restaurant , but just ask any shop in the marina where they make brick oven pizza and I'm sure the will know. The Marina is a great place to people watch as well as drool over the boats!
And one last restaurant recommendation, again at the marina in Marigot.
Chanticler. This is one of the fancier restuarants around but well worth the splurge.
Have a great time!
Hope this reaches you before you travel. If you get the chance absolutely go to the french bakery called Le Sucierre. there are 2 of them , one is in marigot market, and the other is on the Dutch side. They have a bright yellow sign outfront. Get the Parius Brest, its out of this world...Have fun firstname.lastname@example.org