Fit for PurposeMmmm, what to eat…and where? Not an easy decision to make in Anguilla, which famously boasts over 100 restaurants, despite its tiny size. As someone who has a passion for eating well and is regularly spotted enjoying Anguilla’s many and varied restaurants, I will often be asked one of the most difficult of all questions for us local residents… what’s your favourite restaurant? I DON’T have one – I have many. Why limit yourself to just one or two favourites when you have a myriad of choices?
So when I get asked to recommend a restaurant I simply say – what do you like to eat? What kind of experience do you want? And then I base my very expert opinion on that response. My recommendations are always based on a combination of the practical and the aesthetic – the food and the atmosphere/experience. In fact, like the principles of good design, my restaurant recommendations are always ‘fit for purpose.’ And as this is a design magazine, that seems like a good starting point for this article. So, in no particular order of importance or preference, here are some of my most ‘fit for purpose’ dining experiences in Anguilla. This is just a tiny selection of the great dining experiences available in Anguilla. I wish I could mention every place I enjoy, but honestly that would take up most of the magazine. Apologies to those I have not mentioned.
FANCY FRESH FISH
When I want something fishy, fresh and French in a stunning beach front location, I head to Jacala on Meads Bay. I LOVE Alan’s fresh tuna carpaccio with Wasabi, Ginger served with a simple side salad and their homemade bread. I normally pair it with a glass or two or three of Rose for lunchtime perfection. If I want a whole local fish, steamed or fried, I think Johnno’s is always a great choice and it’s always fun to sit in Sandy Ground and watch the show.
I love ‘em. I don’t recall ever eating a BBQ rib until I came here and they are now the thing I miss the most when I leave Anguilla. I eat them all over – whenever I have the chance. I enjoy the purity of eating Roadside from Ken’s straight out of the Styrofoam container. My recommended ‘sit down’ Ribs are: Nat’s Palm Grove. I love the combination of the utter and complete peace and quiet of the beach and the almost exclusive nature of dining there – and I find the (often very long) wait for ribs and homemade johnny cakes adds to the anticipation.
Prickly Pear – Alan and Sue’s Ribs have to travel quite a few miles by speed boat to the off shore cay – maybe all that marinating on the boat is what makes them taste so good? And everyone loves their sides – fabulous and famous stove top potatoes, rice n peas, salad AND coleslaw all to be enjoyed whilst taking in the stunning view over the beach. And finally Smokey’s – their full rack of ribs is smothered in BBQ sauce, I love to get in a mess with those and then dance ‘em off to the sounds of the Musical Brothers on a Saturday night.
TOURIST FOR A DAY
I regularly relive those experiences I first had when I came to Anguilla 10 years ago. When I want to feel like I’m on vacation, I go to Scilly Cay. Something about waiting to catch the boat on the dock at Island Harbour, and looking at the colourful boats and fishermen, along with the family feel and the picture perfect island – makes me feel like I should relax and enjoy my holiday. I know I love the rum punch, the pretty beach and the dancing! And I’m sure I love the food too (especially their signature orange peanut sauce) but sometimes that is a bit of a blur.
‘Girls’ don’t like to eat too much when they get dressed up and go out [haha!] so finding a spot for a cocktail and to have a delicate little nibble of something to keep you going is always a priority. There are loads of places to choose from in Anguilla. In no particular order these are my current faves: SandBar – Denise and Joash’s original “Cool Cocktails and Tasty Tapas’ hotspot in Sandy Ground – red cooked duck, marinated veggies and the awesome “SandBar Fries” are long-time faves; newcomer Tokyo Bay at CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa – it’s gleaming sushi bar, DJ nights and cool décor make for a sophisticated night out and I can’t get enough of their salty garlicky edamame; Straw Hat – love its wonderful new bar and the Tuna Flatbread is a ‘must have.’ The Pumphouse – we all love those chicken wings and I think they serve the best mixed drinks in Anguilla and the Sunset Lounge at Viceroy – a gorgeous place where lots of fun can be had watching the beautiful people whilst nibbling daintily on a “Sunset” Roll or two.
LOCAL COMFORT FOOD
I was surprised when I first came to the Caribbean at how heavy and homely local food could be. I was expecting to find lots of light salads, fresh fruit and grilled fish. Instead I found a preponderance of soup, stews, curries and hotpots serviced with lots of heavy carbs like dumplings, peas and rice and macaroni pie. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I tried it nonetheless and now I’m a fan. One of my favourite places to eat is E’s Oven. Chef Vernon’ Hughes serves up a great selection of local dishes – this is a great place to try curry goat or fresh local fish. In the Valley – Lisa’s fresh daily specials are spot on and very reasonably priced and Andy’s mixes in some healthy options with some rib sticking favourites.
I’m a big fan of hanging out at Geraud’s watching the comings and goings. I love their Coconut Danish and the girls are kind enough to make me my special ‘Trudy Coffee‘ – basically a milky espresso – which gives me a great kick start. Dessert, when taken, will nearly always be chocolate focused – so here are a few tips: Picante chocolate pudding, dark, smooth and slightly spicy – absolutely delicious; Tasty’s chocolate mousse, fluffy and fabulous; and at Madeariman – chocolate sauce-soaked profiteroles. Special commendation goes to Tropical Treats for taking to the road and bringing Ice Cream to the nation – love to hear that van!