The island of Barbados in the Caribbean is known, especially in the UK, as the haunt for celebrities and the comfortably off to escape to during the European winter.
The amount of Polo played is one clue to just the type of clientele that visit the island. The number and extent of smart restaurants scattered liberally around the most popular tourist areas on the West and Southwest is another.
I have written a posting about Barbados and how to make the most of your time there. In that I talk about how the island has amazing and world class restaurants.
Eating out in Barbados, however, is not cheap and so if you want to control spending you should choose one of the “all-inclusive” resorts or self-catering villas rather than a hotel. You will find yourself paying London and New York type prices when you go out, even for some of the fairly straight-forward options. In St. Lawrence Gap there are some more reasonably priced places to eat, but generally things are expensive. The choice and number of restaurants show though, that the tourists that visit the island have the desire and funds to support them. Using a pun, they have the appetite for it.
There are a number of “trophy” restaurants that are almost considered essential to any visit. In fact in the high season (November to January) you will need to have booked up to 2 months to get in to some of the day and time you would want.
Here is my take on some of the best known and most recommended restaurants and if they are worth visiting:
The Cliff is considered to be the premier and the best restaurant in Barbados. In the season, unless you are very connected, you will definitely have needed to have made reservations months in advance.
- It is also pricey and has a minimum spend. A meal for 2 will set you back about Barbados $570 (US$285 or UK£140) and so it needs to be special.
- The venue is very stunning. It is located in the Derricks area of St. James which is between Holetown and Bridgetown. It is, as the name suggests, situated on a cliff (not a very high one) and it is probably best described as being built down the side of a hill. There is a large open lounge at the top which looks down onto the large open restaurant area. You should try and get a table on patio area rather than the tiered tables behind them. There are large flaming pipes and the whole look is breathtaking as you look out to sea.
- Service is very professional. The menu is large and there is also always a large daily specials menu. The food is excellent. I had a salad starter and my dining companion gnocchi. For main we both had seared tuna and shared a bread and butter pudding. The food was beautifully presented and very tasty.
- People dress up to go to The Cliff and it is a special night out. Admittedly a special and expensive one! I would rate The Cliff 9 out of 10.
This is a sister restaurant to Daphne’s in the swanky South Kensington part of London. Although it is more of a sister in name than overall experience, it still offers excellent food but not the same atmosphere.
- Daphne’s in London is in the heart of “money” London and popular with ladies who lunch and celebrities. It used to be a favorite haunt for Lady Di and when my friend Michael was the maître de he got to know people like Joan Collins and the like from their frequent visits.However, at the Barbados one we felt over dressed. Even the maître de commented how stylish we looked which surprised us as all we had on were black trousers and long sleeved shirts. Then we noticed that shorts, three- quarter trousers and scruffy jeans were more the style here.
- It was clear that Daphne’s Barbados is a hit with families not on a tight budget. This is probably as they serve pasta and also (as I noted) will do chicken nuggets and chips as well…The decor and location is very tasteful and reeks of style. It is located between The House and Tamarind Cove which is about halfway between Holetown and The Cliff. There is a great little bar and large lounge area with big white sofas and the dining area are overlooking a big wide beach, which is lit up by metal stakes with burning oil fires.
- The place gets quite hot though and request one of the tables right by the beach.The food is very good. We had endive and pear salad to start, I had open ravioli with roasted vegetables and my dining partner had chicken and pesto cannelloni. The price with water and 2 fruit cocktails was Barbados $290 (US$ 145 / UK£72).
- Overall the service is slick and efficient, although quite a few different people seem to be looking after your table but they seem to know who is doing what as runs smoothly.I would rate it overall a 7 out of 10 as the food is good as is the location. But for the price the overall experience is too casual. This is not helped by the ambient noise level being low and tables close together do you find you talk in hushed tones as you feel you are going to be too intrusive on the next table.
- Like The Cliff they offer a 2 or 3 course option that will set you back, with limited drinks, at least Barbados $600 (US$300 / UK£150) for 2 people. They also have a “taster menu” of about 6 courses of the best of the menu that has different wines with each course that will set you back more – and with all that wine also make you very tipsy I suspect.
- This restaurant, though, is ideal for a special event or celebration as you are made to feel like royalty and very important. The service is probably at times a bit too much but they are very attentive.
- The food is quite definitely the best. The Cliff has great food and is a great experience due to its location and decor, but L’Acaijou beats it through food and service.
- On this visit I had chicken tempura, which I guess is probably up market chicken nuggets. They were quite wonderful! For main I had herb crusted halibut with potatoes which was scrumptious and for main pineapple soaked in rum and pepper then roasted served with chili ice-cream. The dessert was unusual tastes and just fantastic.There is a pianist playing away through the meal which means the ambient noise is high and so although there are tables nearby you feel you are not ear wigging on other tables and vice versa.
- The restaurant has a cocktail bar/ lounge as you enter where they serve you canapés while you look at the menu. The restaurant looks over the beach.This is an expensive night out but in the lushness of Sandy Lane is a great night out if you want to splash out. I would rate it a 9 out of 10
- A striking white colonial style building houses a small hotel and the large restaurant. You go down a long wooden staircase to the restaurant which is right on the beach. The decor is striking and the staff wears white boiler suits.
- Overall though, a visit here is not especially memorable. This is because the attitude of the staff on the door and the waiting staff who are efficient, but bland. The menu is the same. An odd mixture of oriental, steak, some fish and even caviar. It feels like it is designed to cover any taste range.
- The food was good but not exceptional. It was very rushed and designed to get you in and out fast, so in season to churn tables fast.A meal for 2 with starters (spring rolls and crab cakes), main courses (Peking duck and Seared Tuna) and a glass of rose and a glass of champagne came to US$155 (about £80).
- People I have spoken to have mixed views about the place. I agree and I would give it 6 out of10 saying the overall experience is unmemorable.
This is a fairly new restaurant on the scene. Located right in the heart of a “restaurant and bar” row in Holetown, this Italian food restaurant is in a charming traditional Barbados style wooden building and opened in summer 2006. It used to just be a bar before.
- Popular with families as it has a simple, but large, selection of pasta and pizza dishes is unpretentious and relaxed. And the food is excellent and makes a welcome change from the more stuffy and rich menus popular across the island.
- The service is friendly but a bit erratic. But the overall experience is great and as the place is small it feels almost homely.It is not cheap though. 2 Penne Bolognese (which was fantastic) with mixed side salads, bottle of still water and a glass of delicious Rose wine each came to Barbados $200 (US$100/ UK£50). I liked the food and the experience and rate it 8 out of 10. A second trip this holiday is a definite.
AQUA RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE
This is also another fairly recent addition to the Barbados scene. It was opened in 2006 by Michael Hinds (chef) and Dan Jelensek (general manager).
- Aqua is situated right on the beach in Hastings, which is on the South-west between Bridgetown and St. Lawrence Gap. The building is very striking and seems to have been purpose built. There are 2 levels with a bar and lounge as well as some tables on the lower level and then a lot of tables and a private dining room upstairs. The side of the restaurant is open to the sea, with large sail type tarpaulins that can be lowered down the side of the building.
- The menu is excellent and varied. Each dish is served on a unique white plate and looks like a work of art. They are also delicious. I had a Chinese starter of spring rolls and duck pancake and Dorado on a bed of lentils for main. Both were absolutely outstanding. The cost of 2 starters, 2 main and 2 glasses of rose champagne and a bottle of still water with service charge was Barbados $300 (US$150 or UK£75). So again it was not cheap.
- The place is large but not very busy when we were there so, like so many Barbados restaurants keen to churn tables, the food came quickly and in about an hour all was served and done.
- I would rate this strong 8 out of 10 and is well worth a visit. People we spoke to agreed this was one of the best places and a safe recommendation to make to other people.
Bellini’s is located at the entrance to St. Lawrence Gap, which is either a fun party strip of Barbados filled with bustling bars and restaurants or a tacky street filled with tourist offerings that do not do Barbados justice. It all depends on who you are and what gets you excited. It is a part of the island that some love and some hate.
- But neither can dispute that it is a very densely packed part of the island with mostly value hotels. It is an important part of the Barbados tourist scene, making the island affordable for many tourists. In the season, it has a buzz and vibe that many travel from all over the island to enjoy.
- The restaurants here are a bit more reasonable than the more glamorous ones on the West Coast.For example, at Bellini’s a meal with starter, main, water and a cocktail for 2 was Barbados $185 (US$92 / UK£46). This makes it about $100 (US$50 / UK£25) cheaper than other Italian restaurants on the West Coast like Spago’s and Daphne’s. So over the course of a holiday the saving could be significant. The decor and service was not as good, neither was the food. But it was all fine and the atmosphere was good.I am not sure that one would remember the restaurant as a great experience but for a good all round Italian meal; it was a fine evening out.I would rate it as 6 out of 10.
The Mews is a sister restaurant to the La Mer at the Port St. Charles. The later is one of the most well-known on the island and in a stunning setting right next to the lagoon that forms the luxury development.
- The Mews is right in the heart of Holetown on one of the 2 restaurant streets, opposite Spago. It is in what appears to have been a large house. The decor is understated but pleasant. The walls are neutral beige and have many stunning black and white framed photos.
- The menu is extensive, but overall the whole restaurant experience is competent but not especially memorable. It seems to be a place that people chose for a special night out as there seems to be a lot of “happy birthday” sung. It is nowhere near as expensive as places like The Cliff and so probably a more popular choice as makes for a more affordable celebration.The cost for 2 people including drinks and 2 courses will stil1l set you back Barbados $306 (US$150 / UK£75).
- On this trip I had fried calamari to start, which came with a spicy sauce and veal schnitzel for main. My dining partner had the same main and a huge slab of good chicken liver pate. Both were good but unremarkable.
- Service was also competent but not especially good, though they handled our complaint that the 2 glasses of wine we ordered were corked efficiently and without any hassle.They did play only one CD (Amy Whitehouse) on repeat and loudly the whole time we were there, so at least 1.5 hours. ..I would rate The Mews 7 out of 10 as it is a safe night out.
If you really want inexpensive and fast food, then the place to go is Chefette.
As an aside, the worst restaurant I ever went to on my trips to Barbados is “Angry Annie’s” in Holetown. Set up by a couple from Birmingham UK, this “ribs specialist” has appalling attitude, appalling homemade decor and terrible food. An ordeal you should avoid! This is one restaurant that did make me angry for visiting.