Honeymoon Guide: Antigua & Barbuda
Continued (page 3 of 13)
The longtime favorite Julian’s Alfresco, a 10-minute drive north of St. John’s, has recently gotten an extreme makeover. And though we do miss Julian’s, we’ve got to say its successor is splendido for those times when you want a change of pace from West Indian or the fancy Caribbean fusion that’s so trendy on Antigua these days. Omar Tagliaventi’s got an amazing way with Italian classics like osso buco, saltimbocca alla romana and tiramisù. And if you’re a fan of high-end bel paese bottlings like Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino, here’s your on-island go-to spot. It's beautiful too, set in an open-sided wooden pavilion tucked into a beachside garden.
Possibly Antigua’s best-known upscale restaurant, and very likely its oldest—it was founded by Phillipa and Raffaele Esposito the year Ronald Reagan took office. It’s a woody, très romantique bit of business in a onetime golf clubhouse way up north near the Hodges Bay coastline. Though Phillipa is English and Raffaele’s Italian, the vibe here is French (Patrick Gauducheau, the current chef, has worked in Paris) but with a distinct Caribbean lilt and an occasional touch of the Far East, Cajun country and elsewhere. You can get expertly executed Gallic classics like duck à l’orange or steak tartare along with fab fusion like suprême de poulet "Nouvelle Orleans" (blackened chicken breast with sweet-spicy pineapple-rum sauce). Oh, lá, lá.
Nigel Martin helms the 40-seat fine-dining restaurant (open for dinner five nights a week) of this all-inclusive resort. This Brit’s sophisticated takes on West Indian and world cookery are as ambitious as all get-out and frequently startling—he thinks nothing of playfully juggling such unlikely ingredients as wasabi, popcorn and ice cream in his entrées. By the way, the resort, about five miles south of St. John’s, is another good choice for honeymooners (in addition to the ones we list below). You’ll swoon over the setting and the views from the half-dozen small private wooden pavilions, painted blue, lilac and pink and connected by walkways at the western end of a seaside cliff. Get here around sunset and voilà: instant romance.
THE HOME RESTAURANT
Antiguan chef Carl Thomas ain’t kidding: He doesn’t mean merely "homey" or "just like home"; the man actually grew up in this adorable 1950s house on the northern side of St. John’s. Since 1992 he's run it as a cozy dinner hideout with unpretentious but excellent locally sourced fare (including herbs and some veggies courtesy of his own garden), like fish cakes with papaya-pimento sauce, chicken with coconut shrimp and truly delicious desserts—guava mousse, bread pudding with rum sauce. The restaurant has a soothing salmon color scheme and cathedral ceilings. It's decked out with local art, flowers and candles, and Carl's wife, Rita (from Kiel, Germany), makes a marvelous hostess at the front of the house.