Nevis, Leeward Islands - week's review
As I didn't get much/any response to my request for suggestions, I thought an up to date review might help others fortunate enough to venture to the Queen of the Caribbean. NB a lot of places have quite restricted opening hours/days, so check before you go.
This is all prefaced by the fact that Nevis is bloomin' gorgeous! Slow, quiet, charming, stunning. Archetypal unspoilt Caribbean. GO! Everything tastes better there. Oh, and have Ting, the local grapefruit soda.
We were staying at Oualie Beach on half board. Breakfast was nice, especially their Raga Muffins (geddit) which were essentially Eggs Benedict. We quickly realised lunch (crab cakes, burgers, lobster sandwich, coconut shrimp, rotis etc) was much better than dinner as it was simple fare done well. Dinner was a bit try/fail hard (eg duck in cranberry, rack of lamb etc). Service is slow, forgetful, but so sweet and forgiveable, and the setting is idyllic.
Best meal of the lot was at Bananas, up in the hills behind Charlestown. It's a hidden away fairy treehouse. Kids would love exploring the jungly garden and twinkly lights. Try to get there in time for a sundowner from the roof terrace. Service and food are both exceptional. Hit of the night was the Nevis tasting platter with conch gratin, goat water, jonny cakes and ackee, tania fritters and hot sauce, plantain chips and black bean dip. Delish.
Gallipot, a beach shack style resto, is a 5min walk from Oualie, another great sundown spot looking over to St Kitts. We had whole lobsters with drawn butter, salad and fries at 100 EC which must have been at least 2 pounders. It's packed with ex pat Americans and a bit cliquey, but we enjoyed it nevertheless. However the owner has moved back to the UK so not sure whether it will change for the worse/better. NB only open Thurs-Sun.
Of all the Pinney's Beach eateries, we preferred Limes, where I had a really good lobster wrap. Sunshines is a bit grungy. Double Deuce would be fine for lunch.
Yachtsman's Grill was fine for a drink but a bit corporate and it's relatively built up (as built up as Nevis gets).
I had a peaceful drink and snack at Cafe des Arts in Charlestown, which has the same owner as Bananas. And we had a blowout at Montpelier where we dined in the romantic old sugar mill. Again, try to get there for sunset on the terrace. The meal was great and service fab, and soaking up the old plantation atmosphere was a treat (as was grilling our smiling waitress on Princess Di's stay!) but still preferred Bananas.
Finally, Golden Rock. It looks fab. We reserved dinner after the races, having taken clothes to change into with us (we were a bit sandy!) The very snooty front of house lady announced that they'd taken a group booking so had a very limited menu. She wouldn't tell us what it consisted of. She was obviously keen for us to cancel. She then looked my partner up and down and said he was too casual anyway, and maybe lunch would be more suitable for us, without giving us time to explain that we had other outfits with us. But by that point I didn't want to give someone with that attitude any of my money.
We'd been recommended Golden Rock by a friend who has a house on Nevis. Apparently this isn't the first time his friends have been turned away because of group bookings, despite reserving, so he's not going to be recommending them anymore. It's a bit shortsighted of them. Not least because in this day and age that guy in shorts probably runs Facebook! Plus we've heard from others that the setting significantly outdazzles the food. Harrumf.
Next time - please God let there be a next time - we'll stay at Oualie again, and eat at Bananas for posh and Limes for casual. We've also been advised that the rotis from the Fancy Nevis Bakery are lush!