Mango Reef Restaurant Providenciales (Provo), Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed Summer 2013

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mango Reef Restaurant has moved to Turtle Cove as of November 2015

By Mandy Rostance-Wolf

The sun is almost too bright to look at, a blazing crimson fireball hovering above the peaceful horizon of Grace Bay Beach. Everyone jockey’s for their picture-perfect sunset position while Mr Blou strums his guitar and sings ‘Fields of Gold’. There’s a gentle breeze and overhead, a flock of seagulls plummet and soar; a sideshow of aerial acrobatics seeming to caw in tune to the music. We have excellent seats just behind the dunes, at the edge of the raised deck. A few sun-worshipping diehards from the day remain, sporting beach attire as they lounge in anticipation. Just next to them, patrons are enjoying this same natural spectacle as they dine right on the beach. Get the picture? This is the Mango Reef.

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mango Reef's "Must Have" starter, the Crispy Aumoniere of Scallop

Head Chef Florent Sourmont hails from Brittany, France and many familiar faces make up their multi-cultural staff. Their comprehensive menu is rather international, with the discernible French influence coming from you-know-who. The visibly Asian influence comes from Sous Chef Reynaldo Abao. Some items change seasonally and all the fresh fish is local; and like the staff; many of their fishermen have been there from the beginning.

Our server Trevor arrived and introduced himself, looking dashing and debonair in his shades. With that great ball of fire still hanging in the balance, they were absolutely necessary. He tempted us with drink specials and offered his own personal recommendation of Mango Rum Punch. It was deliriously tropical. A basket heaped with crusty bread arrives, perfect to nosh on while perusing the menu, but don’t let them take it away – it’s perfect for mopping up. More on that later.

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Pan-Seared Atlantic Salmon at Mango Reef Restaurant

Mother Nature did not disappoint and everyone sighed appreciably as the sun disappeared below the horizon. But that’s only the first act. The boats at anchor in Grace Bay become silhouettes against the twilight sky and the crescent-shaped bay glows as it comes to life with illumination as the waves lap gently on the shore.

The Mango Reef is approaching its nine year anniversary; all of them popular. The food is as good as the entertainment and reservations are highly recommended. Beach dining, originally offered in response to the crowded main deck and fully booked restaurant, has become an extremely popular dining experience. You haven’t experienced pure, unadulterated tropical bliss until you have dined with your toes wriggling in the sand, steps from the sea.

The Mango Reef has been a favourite of ours for as long as they’ve been around, yet with all these years of experience, we always seem to be in a culinary Catch-22; except on those rare and special occasions where Chef Florent whips up one of his fabulous French specialties – comfort foods that rekindle memories of his home, like Duck Confit, Cassoulet and Beef Bourguignon.

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mango Reef Restaurant offers a T-Bone Steak special

This evening we experienced some new tastes and enjoyed some time-honoured favourites like the Crispy Aumoniere of Scallop. No matter how many times I order this dish, it is like tasting it for the first time. Not only is the presentation spectacular, the flavours are divine. Sautéed jumbo scallops, mushrooms and spinach are smothered in a velvety Parmesan cream sauce and topped with to-die-for crispy shallots and truffle oil. Across the table, the Spicy Shrimp Cocktail held five beautifully plump crustaceans with satisfying and detectable notes of mustard in the spicy sauce, prompting a: “I’ve never had a shrimp cocktail with hard boiled eggs before.”

If you love your slugs, you will love that Mango Reef offers up theirs by the dozen. Yes, count ‘em, 12 delicious, tender escargots spilling over the deep dimples of the escargot plates. Six are submerged in a garlic, parsley butter and six in a fabulous garlic cream. Cue the bread and tear off a crusty piece to soak up all the vestiges of the incredible garlic goodness that remains in the dish.

Mango Reef’s spring rolls are always mouth-wateringly crispy and the Special, Crispy Beef and Noodle Spring Rolls were no exception. So crispy, you could hear the crunch from across the deck, and the tour de force – an enthusiastic ‘what was that’ kick, compliments of the spicy chili sauce.

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mahi Mahi with Vegetables at Mango Reef Restaurant

While on the subject of spicy kicks, the Shrimps Tempura is a knock-out. A heaping plate of tender shrimp cocooned in a crispy, to-die-for tempura batter and doused in a marvelous, creamy Sriracha Sauce. Coconut Shrimps deliver that same amazing crunch with the delicate sweetness of coconut, with three dipping sauces. And for that incredibly fresh, out-of-the-sea taste, the Tuna Carpaccio literally melts in your mouth.

As we pondered the main event, I spotted a Char-Grilled Blue Cheese Crusted Rib Eye with Green Peppercorn Sauce. My husband and I knowingly smiled at each other across the table. “You should have that”, he affectionately acknowledged. I asked Trevor to beg the chef’s indulgence with a side of fries, to which Trevor teasingly replied, “I’m here to please you, not the chef!” Ah, but the chef did indeed please my palate. Those magnificent morsels of blue cheese melted on the glossy surface of the perfectly grilled steak, oozing as one with the steak juices and the rich, creamy peppercorn sauce. The shoestring fries were absolutely crispy, perfectly salted and even more heavenly as I deliberately plunged them into the pool of peppercorn sauce.

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mango Reef Restaurant offers a Beef Tenderloin

The Pan-Seared Atlantic Salmon Fillet proved to be a test in endurance for the more modest appetite of my favourite dining companion. “I cannot eat it, but I cannot leave it!” she confessed. Served with two sizeable shrimp, this lovely fillet basked atop a parsley mash, surrounded by a delightful cherry tomato cream sauce and topped with those same dynamite crispy shallots.

The Dominican Paella is a perennial favourite of my husband’s. Served in a ‘pot’ it is a veritable Caribbean culinary carnival, with mussels, grouper, squid, scallops, octopus, shrimp, chicken breast and chorizo. The saffron not only gives the delicate and tender rice a lovely hue, but infuses it with flavour.

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mango Reef Restaurant's Seafood Salad

The Open Ravioli of Scallops and Shrimps is not the traditional stuffed pasta pockets, but layers of pasta sheets. Strategically folded and stuffed, it’s like unwrapping a scrumptious present. Peeling back pasta layers reveal sautéed shrimps, scallops, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and vegetables. A rich and creamy Parmigiano sauce trickled and meandered its way throughout the dish – and the piece de resistance – a luxurious drizzle of truffle oil and those marvelous crispy shallots.

A photograph of beachfront Mango Reef Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Grilled Caicos Caribbean Lobster Tail at Mango Reef's beachfront restaurant

This multi-cultural menu has a very inviting wine list to match, with wines hailing from all the anticipated regions. What’s more, I could not find a bottle over $100 – not even close. A bold Jean-Luc Colombo Cote de Rhone garnered collective praise as a pleasurable pairing to our first courses; later stepping it up with a more robust Clos de Los Siete from Argentina; rich and full-bodied compliments of the Merlot and Malbec blend.

Spoiled for choice is the operative phrase at Mango Reef, and that includes desserts. Caramelised Apple Tarte with homemade vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce; layers of dark, milk and white chocolate ganache make up the sinful Trilogy; and Opera Cake … just to name a few.

This is how you imagined beachfront dining would be.

Photos provided by Mango Reef Restaurant

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