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10 Fresh St. Barth Discoveries for 2015

         We’re back!  And brimming with news about our latest foray to that Caribbean Island unlike any other…St. Barthelemy FWI.  You would imagine that this, our 25th trip to the island, would be fairly routine at this point.  And we do confess that one of the allures of going anywhere 25 times is that your vacation starts the minute you alight from that harrowing flight from St. Maarten.  You just know the place like the back of your hand.  And within 48 hours you don’t remember exactly how long you’ve been there.   But starting with that flight, we had ‘news’ every day of our trip.   And here it is, our discoveries for 2015:

1. We discovered a new Airline.  And what a treat that was!  For years, I’ve seen a lot of high profile people being scooped up and away from the endless Winair lines to waiting blue and yellow planes emblazoned with the words: St. Barth Commuter.  Our friends John and Mary turned us on to flying with them and we’re so glad they did.  For one thing their fares are much lower.  So much so that pretty much our entire grocery bill was covered by those savings alone.  And their planes?  If you’ve had the vague feeling that your plane is being held together with paper clips, you’ll be astonished to find leather seats and a working air conditioning system.  I also give full marks to our pilot who executed the softest landing I’ve ever experienced going into Gustav III airport. www.stbarthcommuter.com


2. We use a different Rental Car Company.  Ever since we discovered Oscar Car Rental, we’ve been big fans.  This year we were excited to find they now have Mini Coopers.  I should tell you that there is probably the world’s greatest concentration of Minis on St. Barth than anywhere else on earth.  They are everywhere!  So what separates Oscar’s Minis from the mob? Oscar’s come with a parking spot in downtown Gustavia.  This may not seem like a very big deal to you.  But on your fourth swing through town trying to park, you may change your tune. Or at very least your car rental company.  Oscar picks up and delivers at the airport with flawless service.  Tell Philippe, Monte and Andrew sent you. www.oscar-car-rental-stbarth.com/en

3. We finally found out the name of the place we call the Costco of St. Barth.  We’ve gone to the oddly named “Global Distribution” for years.  I love the manager, who went to Art School in Montreal, of all places.  This warehouse of a store is on the route out of L’Orient down from The Ligne St. Barth spa and the Normandie Hotel.  It is the very best place to buy bottled water in quantity, soft drinks of every persuasion and spirits. You can save a small fortune on these ‘necessities’. 

4. We discovered a great new chef.  Arnaud Davin started cooking at The Hotel Christopher last fall.  The French-born chef who trained at Michelin-starred restaurants before a flourishing career in France, arrived on the island after stints in Bora Bora, at the illustrious La Samanna Resort on St. Martin and at Fregate Island Private in the Seychelles.   The man is a genius in interpreting classic French cuisine with island flavors and favorites. The three course dinner we enjoyed at Taino, the resort’s formal restaurant was enhanced by no less than three additions. An amuse bouche of carrot soup topped with chestnut purée and hazelnuts was one of the best things I ate the whole trip.  A palate cleanser of lime sorbet was also served and finally a miniature cream puff and spoons full of creme brulée arrived with the check. 

5. We were bowled over by a complete makeover.  On the road to Salines, Le Tamerin stood for years in what looked for all the world like a Quonset Hut.   Closed for the last couple of seasons, the place gets all the island buzz because it’s back with a bang. A young couple named Julie and Paco Chanseau completely redesigned the whole place.  It is an amazing tropical garden with lily ponds all surrounding the legendary Tamarind tree.  It’s pure magic at night and a lush oasis during the day.  The place is open for lunch, dinner and snacks.  Since it’s just down the road from everybody’s favorite Salines Beach, it’s a perfect stopping off place either on the way to or coming home from the beach.  The food and service were tops in our books. 
Tel:05 90 27 72 12

6. We thought the French may have topped the Italians.  The pizza at L’Isoletta (Tel: 05 90 52 02 02) keeps getting better and better to the point where I wondered if the French had beaten the Italians at their own game.  However, the pizza makers at this restaurant on the Rue du Roi Oscar II ( the upper road out of town) are a family of Italians who also own the highly praised L’Isola at the other end of the street.  The pizzas are made fresh all day, there’s a lovely terrace surrounding the place and it’s a great place to see locals enjoying themselves.  They bring their whole families because what kid doesn’t love Pizza?


7. We ate in one night for the first time ever and loved it. We generally eat out every night we’re in St. Barth.  We love to try a wide range of restaurants of every price point. (We do write the Restaurant article for the www.wimco.comVendome Guide so we consider it research.)  But one night, wanting to give our readers suggestions for their dinners in, we stayed home and stayed out of the kitchen.  That day we’d headed to the BIO Market in St. Jean where we found ‘poulet dans le parking’…that is to say barbecued chicken being grilled outside the market in one corner of the parking lot.   There was also excellent sausage, nice looking slabs of ribs and Caribbean lobster on offer.  Since the grill at Bio only operates on weekends, during the week, pick up a rotisserie chicken at Marche U.  They’re right inside the front door on the left side.  But get there soon after their 8 o’clock opening or your chicken will have flown the coop.

8. We found the simplest, most delicious chicken sandwich ever.  La Petite Colombe with its three locations– Colombier, L’Orient and Gustavia– sell a chicken sandwich to die for.   It’s odd too because all it is is a quarter inch thick piece of tender breast meat put inside a poppyseed baguette that’s been slathered with Dijon Mayonaisse, that particularly French take on Mayo and mustard. That’s all!  And it’s all yours for 5 Euros. 


9. We went back to Bonito and found it only gets better year after year.  With apologies to all the other wonderful places we ate (and we didn’t have a single bad meal– just some that were better than others), Bonito is our hands-down favorite restaurant on the island.   It’s the one with the best view, hanging as it does over the harbor in Gustavia.  It’s the one with a menu that starts with Peruvian ‘teraditos’—sushi with a South American twist–and ends with desserts worthy of the gods.  It’s packed with pretty people and a glorious waitstaff, all of whom cannot do enough for you.  The “Directeur de Salle”, (that would be maître d’ anywhere else) Nicolas Gicquel always remembers our name.  Email for reservations at [email protected]. 

10. We were delighted to see that the trend of offering more and more vegetables continues to grow.  Lord knows we love our sauccisons, our paté de campagne and our Brie (which is now less expensive than in New York (!) thanks to the plummeting Euro), but it is so great to see the volume of vegetables in the Supermarket and on the plates in restaurants.  In fact, the salads at Cote Port (Tel: 05 90 87 79 54) are so large they really should be shared.  Even the aptly named Meat and Potatoes (Tel: o5 90 51 15 98) lets you choose from among 8 vegetable offerings and has no less than 3 vegetarian plates on offer. 

That’s all for now….but we’ll be back with two great St. Barth recipe discoveries in two post to follow.  Be sure to subscribe to Chewing the Fat so you don’t miss one of them.  The Subscribe button is at the top of this post on left hand side.

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