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Best Trip Ever! Back from Bermuda (Long)

I LOVED Bemuda but I didn't find it to be the culinary paradise I was hoping for. Guess you can't have everything.

We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton and quickly noted that we would have to go elsewhere to find interesting or affordable cuisine. (Actually, I think affordable doesn't exist in Bermuda.) Our first night there we dined at Bacci and found it to be extremely expensive and not terribly good. My sea bass was not fresh and was over-cooked. My husband's pasta was ,he said, beyong al dente, as in undercooked. Service was attentive -almost too much so because the server joined into our conversation a time or two without being invited.

The next night we tried the King Henry the VIII pub where I had rockfish that was very fresh, but once again a bit over cooked and over-breaded before being pan-fried. Why must cooks insist on making a low-fat meal as fatty as possible? My husband said his pepper steak was 'only okay' but we both loved our desserts. Mine was banana rum cake in creme anglaise with Dark and Stormy ice cream. Delicious! Service was inept and agonisingly slow.

The following day we lunch at a very busy pub in Hamilton called Flannigans. We waited at the bar for a table and listened to the bar man's agonised cries about how he was just too busy to serve us. Good heavens, man, I've worked in far busier bars back in the day, but whatever. Eventually we were seated on the lovely front deck which overlooks the street and I had a wonderful salad with fresh shrimp and chicken in a spicy cajun rub, though to be honest the flavours were more of the south west to me, but let's not quibble.

That night we dined at BLU and we liked it so well we returned a second night. I had shrimp stuffed with Jonah Bay crab the first night and sea bass the next time. What impressed us the most was the wonderful presentation of the caesar salad - hearts of romane cut lengthwise and left otherwise whole, spread lightly with a spicy dressing. We liked this restaurant very much; great service, beautiful view and very good food.

Another memorable experience was had on our last night there at the Waterlot Inn, but I recommend this place only for serious meat eaters. The venison chops were to die for and tasted nothing like any venison I've ever had but I didn't care for the stick port wine reduction sauce. This was a wonderful and very old-fashioned restaurant.

The worst experiences by far were at the Oceans Club at the Fairmont Southampton, where they confused our orders all night, sat us beside a roaring child and the food just wasn't that good. I wouldn't have minded so much but it was my husband's 50th birthday and I had wanted it to be nice for him. Perhaps it was our fault for ordering meat in what was meant to be a seafood restaurant. His beef tenderloin was very good - I know because I unwittingly ate a bite of it when they served me the wrong entree, and my lamb was okay but lacking flavour which the sticky port wine reduction (what's with this horrible recurring nightmare of a sauce?) did nothing to help. My key lime pie for dessert had a disgusting broiled marshmallow topping that just did not belong.

But the worst, the very worst was Tip Pepe's, which should be burned to the ground. It was advertised as Italian but served Indian food. It reeked of cheap air freshener, perhaps to hide the curry smell or damp, I'm not sure which, but it nauseated me and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The only good thing was the spiny lobster special that only a complete idiot could ruin but it came with a soggy baked potato and frozen vegetable. My husband's rock fish was decidedly not fresh. The music was a combination of Bollywood, Gregorian chants and italian street songs. No, I am not kidding. The owners sat at a table near us talking with relatives who had just arrived from Toronto (my city)who advised that in Canada one only needs to work for two weeks and then 'you never had to work again'. Why hadn't I managed to figure that out? Why have I been working all these years?

It was a great trip and I will be back but I'm still looking for that perfect meal.

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  1. Oh my! You unwittingly managed a tour of some of the worst restaurants here! To be honest, Bermuda is not a culinary paradise in comparison to some islands in the Caribbean that have had French, Dutch or Spanish influences, but you can certainly find some decent food if you know where to go. I hope you will post here before your next visit.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Athena

      I checked in here before we left to see where others had gone but none of the restaurants mentioned were near our hotel. Had I realised how easy it was to get around by bus and how plentiful cabs were I would never have booked the Southampton but our guide book said that cabbies were not willing to drive at night (??!!) The book actually said it was better to stay somewhere which provided on-site dining. Wonder whose best interests they were promoting?

      I wouldn't say I hated everything I ate. Which ones would you say (besides the obvious Tio Pepe's) were among the worst? Just curious.

      1. re: Higgette

        Athena, a client who lives in BDA loves a place in Flatts..Rustica maybe? Any comments?

        1. re: phelana

          I only ever rode the bus through Flatts but it looked very pretty. I'd be interested to hear about it for my return trip. It seemed to me that the best restaurants were all in Hamilton but we never felt like making the trip in the evening.

          1. re: Higgette

            Phelana - yes Rustico is pretty decent, I like it too.

            Higette, I have nothing against the Fairmont Southampton, but as with any big hotel once you're inside you could be at any big hotel anywhere – some people like that and they like having restaurants on hand. That said, for your next visit (and I hope there will be one) you might consider the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, which is a short walk into town; or Elbow Beach which is closer to town and has pretty decent food. Across from the Princess is Rosemont – a guest house which I would highly recommend.

            It's not that taxi drivers don't like driving at night, they've become wary of who they pick up at night after a spate of robberies, and it wasn't tourists doing the robbing.

            Flannagan's for me is a place where guys go to down beers and watch sports. And I see Henry the VIII's food has not improved in the 15 or so years since I last went there : )

            1. re: Athena

              What are some of the best-not necessarily expensive- restaurants you would suggest. We will be at the Elbow Beach. We enjoy casual and outside or a view is a plus.

              1. re: ncara

                After I had suggested Blu and had a poster commented that it would set one back two month's pay, I am reluctant to suggest 'not necessarily expensive' restaurants. What is reasonable or inexpensive to us living here is not necessarily going to be the same for a visitor.

                1. re: Athena

                  I actually liked BLU and while it was pricey it seemed better value for my money than some of the other places we visited.

              2. re: Athena

                My husband had wanted to stay at the Hamilton Princess but I wanted to be at the beach. I'm aware of the shortcomings of hotel dining rooms but my guidebook also said the Newport room was possibly Bermuda's best restaurant. Wouldn't you know, being off-season, it was closed!

                Next time we come we will choose a guest house or a self-catering cottage, now that I know how easy it is to get around by bus and taxi. It was fun to stay in a five-star resort for once in my life but the food was definitely not worth it.

                As for Flannigan's, I was with a guy who just wanted to watch sports and down beers - for lunch! It was March Madness time after all. I've been in far worse places. Henry the VIII was that same guy's choice - it suited him just fine. I'm the food snob in the family.

            2. re: phelana

              No please, don't let it out. It;s a secret. Shhhhhhhhhhhh.

              1. re: Doug Mc.

                I have been to BDA about 30 times since 90. My best meals were at The Reefs, Horizons, Waterloo and Cambridge (also Lantana which is closed). I have tried several restaurants in and around town with no luck...

                1. re: luci

                  The Reefs is currently being renovated, Horizons is being converted to condos or fractionals, Waterloo House is going the same way. My son had dinner at Waterloo a couple of months ago and said it had gone downhill.

        2. We're planning to try Blu when we're in Bermuda later this month. And Rustico sounds promising. Anything else you can recommend? We don't mind paying a little more, if the food's worth it. Any suggestions, particularly for local specialties like conch stew and shark hash, would be appreciated. We're staying in Sandys, if that makes a difference. Thanks!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Roundelay

            Call the Black Horse when you get here and see if shark hash is available, and even if they haven't caught any sharks to make it, it's worth going down to St David's for their fish sandwich. I'm not sure if conch stew is on their menu. The Black Horse is not a gourmet restaurant - it just makes the kind of food Bermudians like to eat.

            1. re: Roundelay

              We liked the Salt Rock Cafe in Somerset. We had lunch there while cycling the railway trail out to Sandys. They have a great sushi bar and the owner is very friendly and helpful. It was he who suggested we try BLU.

              1. re: Higgette

                Thanks, both of you. We'll report back next week.