Restaurants in St. Kitts
I'd like to spin off some discussion for restaurants in St. Kitts from my previous post on Nevis.
phelena provides some excellent advice on local dishes in that thread, and perhaps has some recommendations for Kittitian cuisine.
I've been a regular visitor to St. Kitts since around 1983, like 1-2 times a year ever since (although sadly, circumstances have kept me away for a bit over a year now, so my reviews may be a bit out of date).
In general I've always found the best experience to be had there foodwise (based on price, quality and authenticity) is sticking with the small street stands and beach bars. That is where you will get real Kittitian food. Sadly, too many of the restaurants have priced out the local population through the years and cater only to the tourist market - meaning very high prices and mediocre/bland/"international" food. It is NOT a destination for fine dining, to be brutally honest. Maybe that'll change in the future (though I'll save my grumblings about the changes to the island in the name of tourism "progress" for a better-suited forum). A lot of my old favorite places on the island are sadly long, long gone at this point.
That said, a few things I'd say are well-worth checking out are:
- The Ballahoo restaurant on the Circus. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some items are hit or miss, but few things can beat an insanely cheap yet delicious breakfast on their balcony watching the morning activity around the Circus. Also, the Conch in Garlic Butter and Rum and Banana Ice Cream sandwiches are to-die-for-comfort food. Chili Shrimp is great too.
- Lunch at The Circus Grill. Another great view of the Circus, lunch is/was quite reasonable and a good choice for BBQ chicken, ribs, pumpkin soup, and other great picks in town.
- "Garbage Pizza" and goat cheese ravioli at PJ's. Now, PJ's can be awesome and it can be awful. I can never figure it out consistently. Some trips we go in there and the chef is great and the pizzas, pastas, and other dishes are outstanding. Other trips whoever is in the kitchen can't do pizza and pasta to save their life. Service can be equally frustrating good/awful. That said, when the place is on, the place is on. It's worth taking the risk, at least once.
- Beach bars on South Friars Bay. I admittedly have some bias being a personal friend for many years, but few things can beat Olivia's home-cooked lunches at Sunset Beach Bar & Grill on South Friars. It's like eating in her home kitchen. Fresh fish or chicken stewed or grilled for the day, plus an assortment of starches (potato salad, pasta salad) veggies and cold salad. Huge platter at a reasonable price. One bit of advice is, if you get friendly and spend time at the beach & bar for a few days, give her a little extra cash the day before and put in a request for a lobster. Except in very high season she can't afford to keep it on hand all the time, but she will get it for her good customers and it's worth requesting.
- BBQ buffet night at Frigate Bay Beach Hotel. An always ample buffet of ribs, chicken, shrimp etc. Usually outstanding for the price, though always better in season than not.
- Brunch at the Golden Lemon. Always a class act. And a dear friend used to say those Rum Punches were more accurately "Rum Uppercuts".
- Breakfast buffet at the Marriott. If it's still as good as it used to be, it's worth a visit and a splurge. HUGE, wonderful buffet of fresh juices, fruit, pastries, local specialties like salt fish and pumpkin pancakes, along with all the American standards, omelette station, etc. One of the best breakfast buffets I've enjoyed anywhere, I'm always happy when I can work out a package deal staying there to get breakfast thrown in the deal. It's worth it.
Other than that, most of my experiences have been too mixed to really recommend. Used to frequent Turtle Beach Bar until it got too expensive and just "ok". Fisherman's Wharf was the place, back in the day in the 80s where it was just a grill on an old fishing boat and you'd wait 2 hours for your number to be called over the loud speaker while downing amazing conch chowder out of a plastic cup. But then they started marketing just to the tourists and it's never been the same. Waterfalls I've had great meals at and ok or outright disappointing ones. Ditto Marshalls. A few experiences at Ottley's did not encourage me to return again for the price. Wouldn't waste my time at Sunset Cafe at Timothy Beach Resort. Lots of people love Sprat Net but had a very bad experience there once, won't go back personally. Rawlins has changed owners/chefs since I was left there so can't make a recent comment. It is a lovely location, though.
I had the pleasure of returning to St. Kitts last month (my sixth visit I believe) and enjoyed many fine meals as usual. For those traveling to St. Kitts, I think the first meal to plan is lunch at Rawlins Plantation. The food and atmosphere are outstanding and it would be inexcusable to visit St. Kitts and not have lunch at Rawlins (served every day I believe). The location on this former sugar plantation at the base of Mt. Liamuiga is superb. You'll first enjoy drinks on the porch before being brought in to enjoy the buffet (on this trip, rice and peas, curried chicken, saltfish stew, saltfish fritters, johnny cakes, pasta salad and green salad). If you want to see pictures of this meal (along with few other pictures, including a couple of Sprat Net and the Beach House), check out my post on a Chicago dining site: lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=23316.
Another must on St. Kitts is Sprat Net. They have the best ribs in the world (cooked slowly over charcoal, but not smoked), and great seafood in a no-frills setting (picnic tables). The seafood served is whatever they caught that day (lobster if you get there early enough, shrimp and usually mahi mahi and/or snapper). The cutlery is plastic, the plates are paper, but the atmosphere is fun and more importantly, these guys cook fish, ribs and chicken perfectly every time.
I also love Reggae Beach Bar & Grill (same great food as when it was at Turtle Beach and named Turtle Beach Bar & Grill). You name it, everything's great. The roti is pretty good, so is the coconut shrimp and the lobster and shrimp salads are also very good. Don't miss the banana bread pudding with mango-rum sauce for dessert. This is a nice place to visit to enjoy the beach but also to have a nice, ultra-casual lunch (although they serve dinner too).
For fine dining, the Royal Palm restaurant at Ottley's is always very good, as is Marshall's. I did not get to try Serendipity on this trip, although I've heard it is very good. But I did try the new Beach House restaurant and very much enjoyed my food, and the atmosphere and views are spectacular. Just be warned that you will not escape the Beach House for less than $100/person (see my aforementioned post for a couple of pictures) and at that price, the food is very good but not as good as I'd expect. Nonetheless, a really romantic setting . . . probably the most romantic setting on St. Kitts right now, but we'll see if the soon to open Spice Mill and Carambola Beach Club change this.
As far as Ottley's, I've always enjoyed their Sunday brunch, dinners are always charming, and the owners could not be any friendlier. Elegant dining with almost a country charm on beautiful plantation grounds. Oh, and the food is always good. On this trip, I enjoyed a wonderful pepperpot soup, lobster in a passion fruit sauce with lime risotto and bread pudding for dessert. It was all very good and you almost feel like you're dining in a friend's house.
I didn't make it to Golden Lemon or Manhattan Gardens (I assume the latter is still open?) on this trip, but I've always enjoyed the food at both, although due to the distance between Golden Lemon and Frigate Bay (where I've always stayed), I've only visited Golden Lemon for lunch.
I've always enjoyed Fisherman's Wharf, but on this visit it was sub-par. Despite the restaurant being mostly empty, our server was not very friendly at all, they were out of lobster and the mahi mahi very overcooked. I still enjoyed the complimentary garlic bread and the side dish buffet which included very good versions of candied sweet potatoes (christophene I believe), mac & cheese, rice and beans, sweet plantains, and a creole sauce and lemon butter sauce for your fish. I'll hope this was just an off night but who knows.
I had a couple of dinners at Shiggidy Shack too. I liked that it was walkable from the Marriott so I could drink to my heart's content. Service was very friendly one evening, not so much another. Food was a little hit and miss too. Jerk chicken - skip it here and everywhere on St. Kitts. It's more bbq/tomato sauce based, on not true jerk and just not that good. Likewise, Shiggidy's roti is just ok. But the snapper was perfectly cooked and delicious. And although the lobster had a delicious creole topping (sauteed onions, peppers, maybe garlic and butter), it was really overcooked. I'd go back and give them another chance with the lobster because the sauce was so good and I'm assuming they don't always overcook it. Shiggidy can be fun though as they always draw a good size crowd.
Waterfalls Restaurant at OTI - A slight disappointment. I had heard of their Friday West Indian buffet and steel drum band and I was excited. The place was packed, but the food was just ok. Some items were very tasty (goat water, johnny cakes, pumpkin soup, corn pudding), but other items were very mediocre or bad (overcooked kingfish, bland seasoned fried rice, bland saltfish). The band was good though, and overall it was fun.
I wanted to try Rainbow at South Frigate Bay (heard they have good local food) but never got the chance. If you stay at the Marriott, you'll experience mostly American food . . . none of the menus reflect much of the flavor of St. Kitts and that's too bad.
Near the Marriott is P.J.'s, serving mostly pizza, and although I did not visit PJ's this trip, I've always enjoyed it in the past.
If you happen to drive around Basseterre and see guys on the street grilling ribs and/or chicken in a drum-like grill, definitely get some. I've learned that the Kittitians know their way around grills, charcoal and seasoning.
And soon, two seemingly very fancy restaurants will be opening (both appear near completion). Spice Mill, at South Friar's Bay, will feature the cooking of a chef most recently at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. The other is Carambola Beach Club and is located at Banana Bay if I recall correctly. And with a Mandarin Oriental and Ritz Carlton coming in the near future to St. Kitts (along with a fancy 300 boat slip marina with room for mega-yachts), I suspect you will start to see a number of other fine dining choices coming to St. Kitts. In my opinion, St. Kitts is one of the underrated dining gems in the Caribbean and it's worth exploring now.
We just got back from St. Kitts and stayed at the Marriott. Nice central location (though not a viable beach by any means). And you can use points for your stay!
We did not avail ourselves of the restaurants along the strip nearby, but enjoyed a pleasant walk to Frigate Bay at night and ate at several places there. Shiggety Shack was a fun atmosphere but not such fun food (the soups were great though; conch chowder and pumpkin); Buddies further down the beach was terrific and the fish soup and fresh local grilled fish were awesome. You can choose your own catch of the day if you ask! Ask for Tony the waiter; he's wonderful.
At South Friar's Beach (aka Shipwreck Beach--our favorite for beaching it) there is a new place called Jam Rock. It's terrific! The owner is a lovely Jamaican man and the food really authentic. It's a great alternative to the new Carambola a bit down the beach that seemed way too...whatever for our tastes. Caribbean tapas? Coconut schnitzel? Uh-uh (though their beach chairs are the best--you rent any chairs and umbrellas at each establishment).
Jam Rock has fiery but flavorful jerk…and the biggest lobster hands-down I have seen (and it's one price, not by the pound). Grilled and served with locals vegs and rice, it was a feast. They also have saltfish fritters which are hard to find, and some fabulous drinks. Lovely bartender named Amy too, who is a vet student at the school. We are missing it as I write!
Lately? No -- I'll be returning this coming spring. But I have been to St. Kitts several times over the years and each time I've had one or more meals at the Royal Palm (at Ottley's). Each one has been very good to excellent. I always love the walk from the parking lot to the restaurant at night with frogs jumping all around. In any event, barring dramatic changes, I suspect it's as good as ever.
Just got back. Hurricace Omar cut my trip short.
Go to Cathy's on the beach. Real simple place with great food grilled over wood. I had jerk pork ribs and chicken, mutton stew and local grilled lobster. And all of the fixings.
Bobsy's is good too. Had lobster curry over rice and an ice cold Heiniken. They have a special fridge that keep the beer at about 29F.
It's been several years since we've been to St. Kitts, but we had some WONDERFUL dinners at the Waterfalls Restaurant at Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI). Breakfast and lunch there were just OK, but the dinners were some of the most creative and delicious we've had in the Caribbean.
As I remember, the prices were in line for a fine dining establishment. I really don't remember the buffet. My guess is that you'd be happier with ordering off the menu. The meals were beautifully presented , as well as being delicious. I'd be afraid something would be "lost in translation" in a buffet.