Pelican Bay Restaurant & Bar Royal West Indies Resort, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Reviewed March / April 2012
Dine poolside or indoors at Pelican Bay Restaurant & Bar
On the heels of a busy Christmas season; Executive Chef Peter Redstone was in high spirits, happy to convey that Pelican Bay was “still consistently busy”. With his cheery disposition, Peter enthusiastically boasted, “Where can you get the best local food on Grace Bay? That’s us. Go for that local touch; the staff loves to sell it!” Quick to identify and acknowledge sous chef, Nik Skippings from ‘the BIG South’ (South Caicos) who he affectionately refers to as “my local influence”. Don’t get me wrong - ‘The Local Menu’ is only a segment of what is collectively an extensive and appealing carte du jour offering up everything from Quesadilla’s to Fettucine Alfredo to Devonshire Fish & Chips and more... much, much more!.
Fresh Caicos Lobster Salad at Pelican Bay
Located on the grounds of The Royal West Indies Resort, the old-world colonial architecture of the property carries on throughout the restaurant and bar; the bar itself a visibly lively and popular attraction. In an atmosphere that’s comfortable and casual, here you can enjoy all-day dining with a bistro-style vibe with a menu showcasing contemporary global influences and a unique and appealing focus on our own local cuisine, and what they claim to be “the best local food on Grace Bay”. A friendly and welcoming staff serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner and Family Sunday Jerk Fiesta.
Local Steam Fish with Plantain
We covered a lot of ground that night; or should I say, dishes; so I will dispel with the usual formalities and go straight for the Starters. I opted for the Curried Beef Spring Rolls; a deliciously flakey spring roll stuffed with ground sirloin with cumin and a Cilantro Honey Chili Sauce. Not only did this dish look amazing - it really was delectable. My silence spoke volumes as I heard an “I’m jealous” from across the table and “I could eat a plate of those” from an appreciative beneficiary. Also a hit, four Thai Spiced Lobster Cakes with grilled corn, bell peppers, green onions and tomato jam. Light and crispy the delicate and lovely flavour of the toasted coconut hit the palate first. I love Greek Salad, but am often a little thwarted when the dish arrives with a few feta crumbles. They should call this one ‘Mega-Feta Greek Salad’, need I say more? Big, beautiful hunks of that fabulous feta and a Lime Balsamic that was really outstanding. My husband was pleased with his ‘local’ choice of Split Pea Soup; seriously hearty and thick with a spicy kick, it was deemed perfect for those chilly, Provo winter nights! And lastly, Island Conch Chowder; an essential and fundamental dish for any local menu; its vibrant burgundy-red hue garnered a collective and complimentary nod; followed by what was possibly one of the most tender chowders I, or any of our other diners have ever tasted. Plenty of conch, nice chunks of carrots and potatoes and finished with fresh herbs, the soup packed a satisfying and agreeable heat. Still undecided? There’s more - Lobster Spring Rolls, more conch specialties, Chicken Satay, Coconut Shrimp, Vegetable Nachos, Louisiana Chicken Wings and a few more salads.
Jerk Ribs with Cole Slaw
According to General Manager Murad Mohammed, “The whole menu is geared to be value for money.” The wine list was quite reasonable; with very few bottles past the ‘2’ figure’ range. It is possible to enjoy a 2-course meal with a glass of wine for around $40. Our 2009 Bolla Pinot Noir paired well with our dishes; but in hindsight of the fabulous and flavourful Jerk dishes to come, next time I would be tempted to progress to a more robust Malbec to stand up to the wonderfully intense tastes ahead.
Pelican Bay’s Jerk Cornish Game Hen
Tonight’s Catch of the Day was Hog Snapper, aptly named for its pig-like snout; not to mention that this species of snapper is quite hefty! In fact, Chef Peter even brought a whole specimen to the table for our inspection. Peter zealously acknowledges, “It’s all about the seafood; that’s what people come here for.” Prepared pan-seared, Peter maintains, “You don’t want to mess with it too much.” In a quandary; we decided to take full advantage of our propitious timing - lobster season, ordering 3 different lobster creations. The Butter Poached Lobster Tail arrived out of the shell; prompting my dining companion to express great pleasure at her “no fuss, no muss” dish. The Mojo Garlic Butter and Toasted Capers provided a great union to the delicate lobster that did not over-power the dish at all. The Lobster Pot Pie was crowned by a flakey puff pastry lid where servers have to exercise caution on breezy days. An initial and emphatic “WOW” was followed by “this is full of lobster” and then he quietly but wholeheartedly enjoyed this wonderfully, creamy, rich pie. I snatched one of his sides, thick truffle fries... flavoured with white truffle oil and sprinkled with our own tasty Salt Cay salt. My Fleur De Mer was actually a mixed grill of Lobster, Jumbo Shrimp and Cracked Conch. The Shrimp and Conch were divine... I requested that the lobster be served ‘jerk’ style as that was also another menu offering; anxious to try this intriguing union of jerk and lobster. They should seriously bottle and sell that Jerk sauce - finished with “a bottle of Guinness or two to give a little richness” says Peter, this sauce packs one fabulous punch; bursting with the aromas and flavours of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, thyme and the instantly recognizable heat of Scotch Bonnet peppers. My husband had done his research ahead of time... after studying the menu in the Where When How Dining Guide; he spotted the life-size photo of the Jerk Cornish Hen (page 106)... resolute and smitten with his choice. Did the photo do the bona fide fowl justice? Absolutely. At once he became somewhat removed from the conversation; immersed in his meticulous dissection of this lovely one-pound bird; occasionally offering sporadic commentary on the moist, succulent meat and the incredible Jerk spice.
Fleur de Mer - Lobster, Conch and Shrimp
Sous chef Nik made an appearance; offering up a ‘tasting’ plate of four indigenous dishes; South Caicos Curry Goat; Island Style Curry Fish; Steam Oxtail and Salt Cay Steam Fish. Passionate about these local specialties, he expressed with great excitement and conviction, “Trust me, wherever you had it - you won’t experience it like this!” Suffice to say that Nik certainly had a case. They were all deliciously rich in slow-cooked flavour. Don’t let the term ‘steam’ fool you - we’re not talking some healthy version of steaming food the North American way - this is braised, concentrated flavours only time and tenderness can render.
Dessert? Who can resist Middle Caicos Bambarra Rum Cake with a healthy dollop of Vanilla ice cream; Vanilla Crème Brulée; a homemade Apple and Pecan Strudel or New York Cheesecake. There’s a great selection of specialty coffees, after-dinner drinks and the ultimate accompanying indulgence; Cuban cigars.
Family Sunday Jerk Fiesta is a popular way to while away the day... they start marinating Sunday Jerk on Friday.
So, when you are in the mood for a tasty breakfast to fuel you through your busy day be it sunbathing; diving, parasailing or snorkelling... you go to Pelican Bay. When you’re in the mood for a leisurely lunch siesta... you go to Pelican Bay. When you need a brief respite from the sun and want to kick back and relax, make some new friends and have a few drinks at the bar... you go to Pelican Bay. And when you want to experience the essence of island-style dining with one of the most comprehensive menu’s of local fare you go to... you guessed it... Pelican Bay.
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