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Apr 25, 2011 11:55 AM

St John USVI 2011 Recap

My third annual recap - drinks for everyone! Yay!

Two Plus weeks condensed into this:

Fatty Crab - great addition to the island food scene, lousy addition to the bar scene. The bartenders were maddeningly slow. 45 minutes for a drink. A first drink. 45 minutes. I hope someone from there reads this and a light bulb goes off. And it wasn't THAT crowded. The food makes up for it - sliders, noodles, everything tastes as described. Definitely a must stop for a foodie - assuming they speed up the bar... did I mention the 45 minute wait? You would think they would comp you a round - they would have in NY....

Lime Inn - I love this place. Best grilled fish, prepared simply and always cooked how I ordered it. Never seemed flustered with a large group, drinks arrive quickly, went on oyster night - I'm a Wellfleet lover, but the one's being served were pretty darn tasty.

Candi's. Now, I don't want to split BBQ hairs, because honesty, the best BBQ on island is the Fatty Crab - but the best local BBQ now belongs to Candi. Washed down with some ice cold Presidente. Mmmm....

Miss Lucy's - grouper ruben. 'nuff said. almost. Went back for the full moon party. Ish - the Band - was great. The food was ok, nothing bad, but in a crowd like that, you're not really there for anything other than dancing, drinks, and a wonderful time in a beautiful setting - so why worry?

Skinny's - there was a soccer game on, we were sort of fed, so we had drinks. Which was perfect.

Cinnamon Bay - The BEST rum drinks on the island. To watch the way those women pour rum... Trouble in a glass.

Cafe Roma - take out pizza on a night that we just sort of spaced on reservations and thought we'd get something somewhere but with a big group it's tough to just sort of pop in to a restaurant.... plus half of Cruz Bay was without power... A few beers later we're carrying what might be the only pizza to outweigh my cooler - and I pack a mean cooler - these are seriously thick, loaded pies. Not NYC thin or Chicago deep - what I call Bar Pies. Lots of sauce, lots of cheese, lots of toppings that soak up lots of beer.

The food highlight tho, probably belongs to Da Livio. Tuna in a caper cream of such delicacy, such unbearable lightness, such complex simplicity that allows each flavor to highlight itself while balancing the total - nice dish. The pastas were impeccable, the fish dishes were superb. On a sad note, if you, like me, longed for their tuna tartare - it is no longer on the menu. Maybe it will return, but it is missed... (so have the tuna in caper cream to make up for it... mmmm.....)

Banana Deck - I usually stick to an all fish diet on these excursions but the jerk rib eyes are worth the exception.

Zozo's was a surprise. Sometimes when you go back to the same place a fourth time you get less than the expectation you set. Not here. We walked in the door to "Hey, welcome back, great to see you" from our waiter from last year. There was no last name on the reservation.... Just great service from someone who takes a professional attitude. BTW - I get the exact same thing from the Lime Inn. Food was outstanding, the wine an inspired choice - painkillers are a little sweet but such things make for long beach debates so I can hardly fault them.

Jakes - I used to work the line of a place like this and all I can say is - great breakfast. We only ate breakfast out once... it was here but if it wasn't I'd have gone down to the Tamarind Inn.

The Pate shop opened up the day we left, the one that burned down last year, so I didn't get a chance to try it, but I would have... oh yes I would have...

I think thats it... probably missing something... rum's starting to wear off... must find sunlight...

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  1. " I usually stick to an all fish diet on these excursions...."

    So do we!

    We visit STJ once or twice a year but skipped it in 2011 to go to Anguilla so I really enjoyed reading about your trip. I can't wait to get back in a few months! Thank you for a STJ fix!

    Love the Lime Inn too. Last trip we ate there at least three times. I love the fish sausage and the whole grilled snapper. It is those types of dishes that I crave on vacation, things I can't (or don't want to attempt) cook at home.

    I appreciate the info on Da Livio. Several of my foodie friends are meh on it and some put it into the boxed pasta/canned sauce category. I will definately look into it for the next trip.

    I have also been hearing great stuff about Fatty Crab. 45 minutes for a drink is a crime, I probably would have walked down the street to Woody's and brought it back in.

    Where did you stay on STJ?

    3 Replies
    1. re: cleobeach

      This year we were up in the Azure Bay area of Enighted. Great views, amazingly convenient. You could walk to town ( if it wasn't for the hill... After some rum that's a big climb...)

      We've stayed in Chocolate Hole, Rendevous Bay and Fish Bay. Never stayed at the Coral Bay end, but we like to visit!


      1. re: timwhoeatsalot

        We have rented on the North Shore a couple of times (houses as well as Caneel) Maria Bluff, Chocolate Hole and Gifft Hill last time.

        We are considering Catherineburg or Coral Bay for the next trip. The only thing keeping us out of Coral Bay is we got out to dinner every night and no one wants to drive all the way back after.

        1. re: cleobeach

          Ya... Those roads after dinner are slow going... There have been a couple of afternoons well spent at Skinnys that made the hills, well, more hilly.... That's what keeps us in the Cruz Bay area, although next year we may try Antigua.

    2. Just returned from St John- 4/2012 -Beautiful place- lacks good dining.
      Fatty Crab --- SUCKS - stay away. Food was marginal at best. Small portions and hugely expensive for what it was. Very odd menu , GREEN Mango Papaya Salad ?? - seriously ??- Non the less at the insistance of the manager we ordered the GREEN Mango Papaya Salad. When asked our opinion: - we advised we did not like it. The waiters comment: "Well.. it's not for everyone" The manager removed it form the table and said: Yes, I think tonights offering is a little flat. How pretensious! Here's a tip -- do not eat Green Mango unriped fruit it taste bad - do not order it. Thank goodness - it WAS removed from the bill.

      Asolare- without a doubt -- The very best view and dinner -- absolutely wonderful - a little pricy - but we ate every bite and it was all delicious.

      Lime Inn - menu was really appetizing - we will save the lime inn for next trip.

      Starfish Market - If you are renting a Villa and need to provision it- BIG TIP ---purchase food in St Thomas at Cost Less Market - Starfish is handy but prices are out of control- not to mention a lot of the produce is not that fresh.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Flourchild1

        Oddly, I've heard this same sort of complaint from lots of friends. I've never heard anything bad about the NYC restaurants, just the St Johns...

        1. re: timwhoeatsalot

          I had a terrific experience at the STJ Fatty Crab in early February. We ordered roughly 15 plates, and there was hardly a dud in the mix. The weird thing about all the Fatty Crabs (NYC too) is the insistence that you order everything at the beginning of the meal. I get it from a kitchen standpoint, but I'd rather sit at the bar and graze at my own pace with this sort of food.

          N.B.: Green Mango Papaya Salad is supposed to use unripe fruit. That's the dish. It's basically a vinegary, fish saucy slaw laced with thai chilies. Ripe fruit doesn't work in it. It's not for everyone, but certainly not incorrect.

        2. re: Flourchild1

          Green Mango salad sounds like Tom Sam, which is tradtionally made with green papaya, but often substitutes green mango. Doesn't sound odd to me.

        3. Fatty Crab on STJ does suck. One of the worst meals I have had on the island in the 15 years I have been going down - and that is saying something. Stay far, far away.

          ZoZo's is always reliably good and a good bet, especially if you sit up at the bar at sunset.

          Asolare was once great, then slipped a little, but has bounced back quite well in the last year or so. The view is always spectacular.

          Lime Inn is still going strong, and the place to go for fresh Caribbean lobster.

          Candi's is the best BBQ in my opinion and doesn't come with the attitude baggage that can be a turn-off at Uncle Joe's.

          La Tapas is also a perennial favorite and is consistently good. I just wish you weren't practically in the street next to the drunks at Woody's when trying to have a nice dinner.

          I had an awful experience at DaLivio's a few years ago when they first opened and have not been back. I have heard better things lately, so maybe it's time to try it again.

          1. Just wanted to chime in on Fatty Crab.

            The best dish by far was Watermelon Pickle and Crispy Pork - perfectly balanced between crispy, fatty, sour, crunchy, sweet.

            The worst dish was easily a special of Mahi Mahi over noodles - it tasted so strangely of Parmesan cheese and didn't at all highlight the delicate flavor of Mahi Mahi.

            Perfectly fine dishes included very crispy, very large shrimp and stir fried vegetables - slightly porky and soupy.

            Some brisket with roti, aioli, pickled onions was fatty and smoky, though the roti was tough and terrible.

            Overall it was very enjoyable - I'm sure if we had ordered all porky dishes (clearly the chef's strong suit), we would have been ecstatic.