On my first night in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos a couple of months ago I had a Provo nightmare. It started fine, with me walking on the beach with people that I didnt come here with. All sorts of random people, like my high school music teacher. But things turned at some point, to the point where I was awoken with a little sweat slowly dripping down my forehead. On our little walk, we lost track of time, and I missed breakfast time! Which also meant I missed Seven Stars’ new omelette station. Yes, the Provo nightmare is a little more subdued than regular nightmares we have at home. During a dream last night, my oldest fell from the roof of Madison Square Garden on a sled. Long story!
But lets get straight to eating. The biggest takeaway from the last trip is that we should start limiting trying new places. As much as I try to find some new spots for you and me, this is just not working. The old guys just keep chugging along, while new places, and especially resort places keep pretending and delivering odd experiences. There’s one exception however.
Caicos Cafe – Nothing new here. Our usual first and last stop. But I start to get the sense that these guys wont be around here for too long. Wahoo Carpaccio is the same sea butter awesomeness self. Got two grilled calamaris this time to avoid World War Z. The lobster Fra Diavola didn’t do it for me this time around. Just missing some of that old pop. But the old Oriechiette with pork sausage ragu is back with a vengeance, showing very nice depth. The Octopus starter here is a slap your sister wowster! Brilliantly cooked on top of this delicious “I can’t believe this is not hummus” chickpea mousse. Black Tagliolini continues to be a must, and the steak and ribs are very underrated here.
Solana – In NYC, during my Hell’s Kitchen walks, I show visitors the various Thai restaurants and how to tell between the good and not so good. A big clue is in the looks department. The ones that look like dingy dives are far better than those with sexy looking rooms with expensive chandeliers. Such is the case in some cases with Provo, and especially with Solana taking the place of EWZ fave Seaside. A marked improvement in the looks dept, with dumbed-down food. The blackened fish sandwich is the same Swai as before but not blackened enough, hence blander. An “award winning” Conch salad paled in comparison to Seaside’s Peruvian conch salad. Fried Calamari plate looked gorgeous, but a quality and quantity fail. This is owned by the Vix group people, and I just dont think they care about ingredients nearly as much as looks.
Flamingo’s – The only news here is that they now accept CC. In other news, the Curried Grouper is still the same melt in your mouth flaky goodness. An island classic that requires some research (like reading this blog) to know about it. This time we also did some dirty dancing with a fine jerk chicken and passable ribs. But you come here for lunch for the grouper and rum punch.
Le Bouchon – Nothing to see here, move a long. Another great meal at good ol’ reliable LB. They keep experimenting (on me sometimes), stretching that menu, and stretching that sidewalk to the point that no one can see the board anymore. Soups are still great. Escargot is still perfection. Octopus Carpaccio is outrageous (but not cheap). The steps to produce it read like IKEA instructions. Au poivre still rules the island Games of Steak. And on this night a nice crispy snapper with buttery Beurre Blanc sauce.
Simone’s – The strong exception as far as new places go. We tried it for lunch last time and liked it enough to come back for dinner. Its the resort area Three Queens if you will, but still a small schlep from the hub to La Vista Azul resort. Simone, formerly with Sharkbites, is a sweetheart, and treats family like customer! Oh wait, I think I got it backwards. The “Conch Ceviche”, now that Seaside is gone, perhaps the Conch Salad to beat. A beefy fresh Wahoo, like a thick and juicy, flavor packed Swordfish. Local fishermen dine here both times we were here.
Thai Orchid – If you follow this blog, you know how much I love Thai food. So it may sound odd that this is my first time trying Thai Orchid in Provo, but really it shouldnt be. Crispy Duck was exactly what I expected. Crispy, understandably dry, but quite good especially once you add some chili sauce. A lot of nice flavorful crackling action. The Snapper Choo Chee was pretty good too. It’s a thicker, dryer red curry. With a fresher Caicos Snapper it would have been a chooooo chooooo! instead of choo chee. Ok, I try.
Chinson’s – Goat curry fix, Check. Spiciest goat curry out there, which is surprising considering how sweet their Chinese fried rice is and other dishes. Jerk chicken was on point. But the best thing surprisingly was a pulled pork sandwich. Heaps of juicy pork with a sweetish and sour sauce. Note to self, again… you dont like ginger beer! Chinson is now on the regular rotation, graduating perhaps into dinner next
Cocovan – A new addition to the Coco Bistro family, an Airstream parked in the CB parking lot operating only at dinner time. Perhaps a play on words on Coq au vin. Love CB, but didnt love, nor quite frankly got Cocovan. The Shrimp tacos were meh. Didn’t taste much shrimp, nor blackened, nor “coconut hummus”. Duck tacos were more like it if not a little dry. Sweet and sour Caicos lobster tasted like fine rock shrimp tempura. Lamb lollipops tasted like an average, slightly overcooked baby lamb chops you get at your nearest kebab house with an $8 per lollipop price tag. 20 mins, $120 later with some of us still hungry, now what do you do. It felt like an overpriced resort lunch with familiar flavors to me, but I have no doubt this will be popular. I would rather go to something local like Caravel. Or perhaps a niche player, serving fresh fish tacos, or high quality burgers.
Hemingway’s – If there’s one place that feels like home. Our first meal on the island over 10 years ago, and nothing changed. That includes the women running the front who see our girls grow and hairline shrink. We come here for lunch and order just two things, fish tacos and fish and chips
Pavilion – First visit to the newish (2 years?) fine dining at the Somerset, in the old O’soleil (aka O’SoSmall?) place. Hits and misses throughout, and essentially a one and done deal for us. Good conch spring rolls. Tasty Poke style tuna cubes sitting on top of avocado that was not fresh, with even less fresh banana chips on the side. C’mon, at a place like this you can’t serve this. Well cooked, supersized lobster was the star of show, beating the snapper. Grouper, a major fail. Crispy battered into a mushy, oversized fish and chip gone horribly wrong. Ambiance of a typical hotel restaurant.
Sweet T’s – Fried chicken stop on the way to the airport. Best value on the island
Stay hungry my friends!