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May 5, 2010 12:59 PM

Lion fish on the menu in the Bahamas?

For some strange reason, I've been noticing an uptick in articles about restaurants serving lionfish. With the latest being the Chicago Tribune.

It mentions a couple of restaurants in the Bahamas that serve it on their menu if it's available. I am curious what the local chowhounds think about it and what their favourite preparation method is? I'm coming into Nassau on a cruise ship closer to the end of the month and would be interested in trying that and conch (sadly I only have a Saturday in Nassau). I've seen the conch thread and am likely to try and hit the stalls under the bridge for maximum chow in minimal travel. Is it worth it to try and search out a place that serves lionfish as well or is it nothing special?

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Very depressing article. I recall seeing juvenile lionfish when I was diving off Coney Island in the mid-80s. It was quite shocking. And at the time it was thought they might be able to be controlled. I had no idea the fish were now so populous that there is potential for a commercial market. I know fellow scuba divers who have participated in lionfish roundups in Cozumel and Nassau. They said that the fish collected, those not sent on for further study, were filleted and grilled and were very tasty. I'd certainly try it if I came across it, but wouldn't waste precious vacation time searching it out.

    1. Please order one if you see it offered on a menu. They have tasty mild light flesh, not at all oily, and are suitable for many preparations, along the lines of monkfish or sea bass. Apart from being tasty and pretty, they are demons, vacuuming up young reef fish, themselves having no natural predators.
      My dear old friends in Tobago, Michael from NY and Tessa from Connecticut (( ) who are sincere about sustainable fishing and have spent a fortune in its pursuit, have supplied lionfish to high end restos in Chicago and NY, where it sells out quickly at high prices but in small quantities. It takes high prices just to get it there fresh. The patronage of affluent, conservation-minded diners is not enough to fix the problem, but every bit helps. When I dive outside of restricted areas I do what I can to be rid of them.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Thanks for the information! They have started to be spotted up here in Bermuda as well. And they are trying to be very pro-active about capturing them before they can spawn and reek havoc on the reefs here. But they haven't started to show up on menus here as there are not that many.

        As for wasting precious vacation time, I never consider it a waste of time to hunt for interesting foodstuffs. I am pretty much a food traveller these days, I have my dining plan and reservations usually done before the airline ticket is booked. Lol.

        1. re: bdachow

          We have them in Bonaire ..very sad..

      2. I see that August Moon is the only restaurant listed in the Bahamas - that is at the absolute far western end of the island (just outside Lyford Cay). I have never had it before, but if they have it, August Moon definitely would do an amazing preparation. That being said, they are not open on Saturdays. I haven't seen it anywhere else in a restaurant while I've been in the restaurant.

        I have never tasted lionfish myself, but would definitely try it if it were available somewhere. I have spoken to others who have, and have quite enjoyed it. I've seen them though - swimming in the canal around our boat in the back yard!

        Enjoy your day down here.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Food on the brain

          Oh rats, thanks for the information.

          I think Sip Sip has been mentioned before in other articles as well? Is that closer to where the cruise ships would dock?

          1. re: bdachow

            Sip Sip is on Harbour Island, not New Providence, where Nassau is. Sorry! However, I just found an ad for a seafood and wine festival, and there is a seminar on lionfish...:-)


            1. re: Food on the brain

              Rats, I would've loved to attend but unfortunately doesn't coincide with my timing.

              1. re: bdachow

                That's too bad - it might have just suited you! That being said, if you are coming in on the 22nd, that is the first Sat. for the restaurants to have their prix fix menus - might be worth checking out Cafe Matisse, Van Breugel's, Seafront Sushi, Poop Deck, or check out Arawak Cay (Fish Fry) to see what is going on Sat. during the day. There might be some good yummies!

                Have a great trip!

                1. re: Food on the brain

                  Thanks very much. I know everyone recommends Cafe Matisse but not sure about the other places? I had thought to try and get some conch, probably by hitting up the stalls under the bridge? And then popping over to Nobu to get my uni/sea urchin fix solved, not sure if they're open for lunch? But would Seafront Sushi be able to fix my jonesing for uni? Arawak Cay sounds intriguing, I do love a good fish fry.

                  1. re: bdachow

                    It's going to be tough to fit everything in to one day! :-) For conch, under the bridge or over in Arawak Cay would be good choices. There will be lots going on at Arawak Cay on the 22nd as well, so there will likely be booths and kiosks all over with lots of local fare.

                    Nobu is not open for lunch, unfortunately. Seafront Sushi does have Uni on the menu, and they are open for lunch. They are just past the PI bridge, on the right across from the Poop Deck Yacht Haven (well, just before Poop Deck).

                    If you try conch salad or conch fritters or cracked conch or conch chowder under the bridge, and some uni at Seafront, and maybe hit up Arawak Cay, for other local fare, I think you will be quite satisfied! If you want to have a nice dinner after snacking through the late morning and afternoon, Matisse would definitely be my first choice. Then again, you might like to try Poop Deck. As I said before, August Moon is fabulous. But it is at the far end of the island, and would be quite costly by cab, and they are not open for lunch on Saturdays.

                    Have a blast - you must be getting excited!

                    1. re: Food on the brain

                      Hmmm...sounds like Arawak Cay is the place to hit. A little beach, some beers and great food. I might end up not moving from the sounds of it, due to food induced coma! About a 20 minute walk from where the ships dock?

                      1. re: bdachow

                        It is about 20 min walk. The "Junkanoo Beach" is just before you arrive at Arawak Cay. How much there will be to do there will depend on how much they are celebrating the Seafood & Wine fest that first weekend, but it sounds as though there will be lots going on.

                        That being said, I do strongly encourage you to go west and hit the docks too. :-) The walk will help you to burn off the food to come (or you can take the number 7or 1 bus)! Plus, the atmosphere at Potter's Cay (under the bridge) is much different from Fish Fry. Then, you can check out some Uni at Seafront Sushi! It's only about 1 block or two beyond Potter's Cay.

                        A lot of people who think they'd like to check some different things out will rent scooters near the Cruise ship docks. Then you can go east to check out Potter's Cay and Seafront, and then you can also go west to Awarak Cay and beyond. If you dock earlier in the day (before 10), I would actually suggest you do either the scooters and see where the road takes you (stay on the main roads), or catch the water taxi over to PI and check out Atlantis - it is a must see, just because it is quite amazing. Then you can either catch the water taxi back downtown, or walk back over the bridge and hit Potter's Cay for lunch. Make sure you take the eastern bridge - the bridge coming back from PI. You can see the kiosks under the bridge as you come over, as well as the cruise ships in the Harbour and the other boats going out and about. Who knows, if it's a nice day, we might even be boating under the bridge as you walk over the bridge!

                        If you decide to rent scooters, I believe the bridge toll to go over to PI is $1 per scooter.

                        If you're interested in local "gifts," there is a kiosk in the building where the ships come in selling locally made soaps, candles, etc. that are really nice and really unique. It called "My Ocean." Their main store, with even more product, is on Charlotte street 1 1/2 blocks in from the docks, on the other side of Bay Street.

                        Hope the weather is beautiful!

                        1. re: Food on the brain

                          Thanks for the tips and suggestions. Seeing as all I drive in Bermuda is a scooter, should be a no brainer, I just have to remember to drive on the other side of the road!

                          1. re: bdachow

                            Yes, do remember to stay on the left! Heaven forbid you go against the traffic! Scooter may be the way for you to go to get to everything you might be interested in! I think you will have a very full and active day.

                            Happy Chow!

                            1. re: Food on the brain

                              Thanks so much for all the help. I didn't end up getting as much in as I would've liked but still had a really great time. Ended up walking over to Arawak Cay and relaxing there for a couple of hours. Popped into Seafood Haven and spent a couple of hours in there chatting with Phil the bartender. What a really nice guy. Had a couple of Kalik beers and a conch salad. Wow is all I have to say. The beers were cold (and inexpensive at $3/piece) and refreshing after walking over from the dock (but much cooler still than Bermuda due to lack of humidity). The Kalik was preferred to the Sands (which we found kind of watery and tasteless). And the conch salad was delicious. Chopped conch with tomato, green peppers and onions with orange juice and lime juice (not unsimilar to ceviche). And we threw in some of their home made hot sauce (apparently made with 4 different types of peppers) and me and the DP were in heaven. On fire but in heaven. :)
                              After some debate, we decided to try Twin Brothers (I remembered it was mentioned here before?). But opted to try the conch fritters and a couple more beverages. I have to say they were extremely disappointing. There was hardly any conch in the fritters at all, so essentially it was like a hush puppy. Not exactly up to my expectations but by this time, we were pretty full (the conch salad was pretty darn big). So we attempted to walk it off but alas, didn't really work.

                              Tried to go to Nobu for something lighter (sashimi always feels lighter) but could only get an early reservation which didn't work for us. So oh well...that was about the extent of the eating adventures for us. Everything else about the trip was excellent, the weather was phenomenal, the water was great. I still think the beaches in Bermuda are better though. Sorry!!!! Hard to argue with pink powdery sand. ;) Looking forward to coming back again to try scorched conch and the local snapper.

                              Thanks again everyone for the advice! Hope I can return the favour one day if you ever come into this neck of the woods!

                              1. re: bdachow

                                Glad you had fun! Lots going on at Arawak Cay - especially if it is a weekend day when there is other stuff going on. Yes, unfortunately conch fritters are more fritter and less conch. :-(

                                On another note, just wanted to let you know I tried lionfish last night and it was delicious. It was pan seared, was a nice firm fish, with a slightly sweet flesh. It was really delicious! Unfortunately, it is not a regular menu item, and it was at the club, so the public wouldn't be able to go and have it there.

                                Just thought I'd let you know it was really good!

                                1. re: Food on the brain

                                  Thanks for the post. If I ever see it on the menu, I know to definitely give it a go. Sounds delicious.