St. John USVI food rteport
We just came back from 6 days in St. John. I know it is not a restaurant mecca but I think it was better than three years ago. We ate at Zozos twice. I think it is the best of the bunch. Fresh fish, lovely salads and a wonderful shellfish stew. They also have parking.
Waterfront Bistro was fine, I always stick to the local fish and it was good but not wildly creative. I also had an avocado and cucumber soup that was fine. It is a lovely location and the service was good.
The Fish Trap was fine although I wish they would serve plain grilled fish rather than trying so hard. It is informal and as long as you pick local stuff it is perfectly acceptable.
We had lunch at Caneel Bay Grill at the resort. It is much, much better than the dreadful buffet. Excellent hamburger and a very good chicken Cesear with freshly cooked chicken
.The locals all liked Rhumlines so we tried it. It was not great. My husband had the local lobster and although expensive it was fine. I had tuna and found the sauce cloying.
We also tried the restaurant above the Starfish market called Plancha del Mar, I think. It was quite cute run by three young guys. However, ambiance is really bare bones. No fresh fish(?) so we had a steak which was not all that cheap. However, it was plated very nicely and it actually was very good. Good salad as well. We ate there since it was pouring rain and just a short ride from the hotel.
I'm down here now for a few more days and you're spot on with Zozos. We had Easter dinner there - veal porterhouse for me, osso bucco, fresh fish, pasta dishes for the rest of the group. All outstanding. Service was friendly and helpful without the "I'm Fred and I'll be your server". It's pricy, but heck, it was Easter.
We tried the Rhum Line. It's behind a convenient store near the docks, walked by it a thousand times - WOW. Thai inspired but not trad thai. They have a back of the menu small dish selection that's cheap - $5 to $7 - so you feel good about ordering lots of different things. The entree we all shared was a cuban pork dish that was firey and perfectly cooked. The noodle dishes were spiced nicely, the duck dumplings were a hit, the atmosphere is tiki bar, great drinks. Sorry your experience was different. I find the lobster down here to be marginal anyway, unless it's grilled over a woodfire like they do on the beaches in Jamaica. I'm a Maine lobster diehard.
Had a marginal to bad experience at the Banana Deck, which I normally like a lot. Rude waitress - and we're about as low key and happy crowd as you could ask for.
Morgan's Mango was good - I like their app menu so we ordered an assortment. The shrimp empanada was excellent. Tuna tartare was good but not as good as the seared tuna special.
And we hit the Lime Inn - which was great. Pouring rain, we lucked out with a table that didn't get hit and the tuna was fresh and perfectly cooked.
We also spent Easter at Cinnamon Bay - had to wait till 4pm for a Pain Killer but MAN WAS IT GOOD!
We were in St. John in early April 2010 and had some decent meals.
First night at Morgan's Mango...we had the jerk chicken & brie quesadillas, which were great! You can barely taste the jerk chicken, which would normally be a bad thing, but the brie was so flavorful that we didn't care. Also had the calamari, which was the opposite - no flavor. We didn'd do seafood, had the citrus chicken and the pork. Both were cooked perfectly, nice and juicy and full of flavor. Overall a very good meal.
Dinner at La Tapa the second night, it was fine - nothing earth shattering, probably would not return based on the other spots we went to, the food just didn't stand out.
Third night at ZoZo's for the sunset seating...the sunset was OK, but the food was probably the best we had on the island. We started with calamari, which had a great aioli sauce that made the dish, a bruschetta fancied after a philadelphia cheesesteak which was really tasty (even for a girl from Philly who is pretty particular about her cheesesteak), the pappardelle, which was rich but phenomenal, and the sweet potato ravioli, my only disappoinment. It's way too heavy a dish to be served in a location that has an eternal summer. It was good, but just too much and too heavy - probably not a good call on my part to order it. I didn't have any of the entrees, filled up on the first course, but there were rave reviews over the mahi mahi and pork. Really finely prepared food in a beautiful setting.
Fourth night was at Uncle John's bar-b-que shack, at the ferry dock. Not the best BBQ I've ever had, but the BBQ'd chicken and rice/beans really did hit the spot. It's a neat place to go for a lowkey dinner, and it's super cheap - I think two of us ate & drank for a total of $25 or so.
Last night was at La Plancha. You don't go for the veiw (there is none, it's in a shopping center), but a cool spot. They do a nice job with the food, and you can tell they know they need to serve top-notch food in order to survive on an island where most people pay more for the view than the food. We had the panko crusted brie to start, which was great. They serve it with pita-like chips...it probably would have been better with some nice, fresh, french bread, but the flavor in the brie was enough to make up for the lack of flavor in the chips. We also had the hummus, it was also very good. For entrees, we shared a duck confit salad and the churasso steak. Both were great - the duck was cooked perfectly, tons of flavor and very moist. The steak was also great - cooked to perfection and a ton of flavor. The red pepper sauce really added a nice, unexpected flavor to the steak. The portions were really large and the prices really reasonable. I think that may have been the best part - having a really good, quality meal and getting a check that was 75% that of most of the fine dining restaurants on the island. Great spot if you just want really good food and don't need to pay the premium for the view.
Overall, not an island for culinary masterpieces, but still charges the same prices as if they were. If you look hard enough, though, you can find a couple of meals that you don't feel bad paying New York prices for!
My wife and I also just returned from St John. We had dinner at Waterfront Bistro where the Foie Gras was amazing. It was a perfectly seared chunk of foie that very well may have been the best I have had. We dined at Rhumb Lines as well, which was alright, although the service was erratic.
We had a horrible experience at Morgan's Mango. Just after we were seated near a lattice covering a window in a corner of the dining room, there was a loud splashing sound outside after which a very strong, pungent smell of bleach filled the area for the remainder of the evening. A table of six seated right beside asked to be moved to another table because of the smell. The server obliged and moved the party, but failed to offer the same to us or even to acknowledge the issue to either of the other two tables in the vicinity. After this point, we saw our server only two times more, one of which was to drop the check. For appetizers we had a Garbanzo Bean Soup and the Seared Tuna special, both of which were excellent. With just a couple bites left each of the appetizers, a woman comes over to the table holding our entrees and without a word, merely stares at us with a grimace as if we are inconveniencing her by being unfinished with our current course. We consume the last bits from our plates and she clears the dishes, places the entrees in front of us and walks away without ever saying a word. Our main courses were the filet and the pork tenderloin. The filet was tasty. The pork rub had an excellent flavor, however it was diminished by the fact that the pork, having been ordered medium, was served quite well done. Both entrees were accompanied by mashed potatoes and tasteless frozen broccoli. Our server came once the entrees had arrived to see if we were satisfied, at which point we told him that the pork was overcooked. His response was "OK, I'll tell the chef." He never returned to discuss what the "chef" had to say nor did he offer even an apology. After sitting for some time once we had finished with our main course, we asked a nearby busboy to have the server bring our bill. Overall, I was extremely disappointed with Morgan's Mango, and am surprised that others have had such great experiences there with ours being so terrible.
For our last evening, we dined at Asolare, which was fantastic. We were seated at a table on their terrace for the sunset and the view was spectacular. The service was timely and unimposing. We shared the Crab Souffle as an appetizer which was as phenomenal as the view. Our main courses were a local Wahoo special and the Grilled Mahi-Mahi. We finished the meal with a Key Lime Pie. Our experience at Asolare was top notch and helped us to forget about Morgan's Mango. On a side note, it was rather expensive, but as it was our last night, we were willing to splurge a bit.
So, to summarize, I highly recommend Asolare & Waterfront Bistro, Rhumb Line is on the fence and Morgan's Mango leaves much to be desired.