I just returned from two weeks on St. John and realized I hadn’t updated any St. John dining posts in awhile, so here is the latest:
RESTAURANT OPENINGS & CLOSINGS
Chateau Bordeaux Closed.
One of my favorite restaurants has closed, Chateau Bordeaux on Bordeaux Mountain. This location is my absolute favorite view on the island and I am sad that the restaurant (and adjoining cheeseburger shack) is gone. According to the Coconut Telegraph, the owners (who also own Asolare, Paradiso and Chloe & Bernards) had recently revamped the menu to reflect the “new” economy (read: cheaper prices) but still weren’t getting enough customers to make it work. Hopefully they will sell or reopen soon, as this location is a true gem.
La Plancha del Mar
In better news, a few new places have opened – most notably the new La Plancha del Mar in the Marketplace, which has been getting stellar reviews from all over the place. La Plancha is in the old China Shack location, and is smaller than I remember. It has about 8 tables and a nice bar surrounding the “plancha” – or the plank they use for cooking. The food was good – especially the grilled items such as the prawns and steaks – but frankly, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. Yes, the gentlemen that run the place are very, very nice, but the prices are astronomical for what you get – even for St. John. I had a cheese plate appetizer that had three cube-size portions of cheese with some commercial trail mix and an interesting strawberry/mustard sauce and it was like $12! The dinners were pretty small portion sizes as well and more expensive. We shared a dessert that everyone talks about, a chocolate waffle with ice cream. It was good, but not the chocolate orgasm I was expecting from the conversation with the drunken table next to us. (They need to lose the novelty long-plate-presentation as well as it doesn’t add anything to the experience – except maybe making you realize that you’re not getting much.) Overall, a good place – but really nothing spectacular to justify the high prices. There are better places to go if you want to spend a bundle on dinner.
The Surly Cantina
A new and already-popular spot is The Surly Cantina, located across from Slimman Parking in the Wharfside where the old Paradise Cafe used to be. I had heard that not only were they great, but cheap – something increasingly rare on STJ. Well, the rumors were half right – the food was fantastic, but hardly cheap. We weren’t that hungry, so we decided to share 3 fish tacos and two margaritas. Total bill? $47! Okay, it was kind of our fault for not paying too much attention to what we were ordering. It turns out tacos are $2/ea + extra for meat or fish. We got the fish which was an extra $5 PER TACO. So, that’s $21 for three tacos. Ouch! (Oh, and the remainder was the margaritas – we ordered top shelf which I should have noticed was listed on the menu, but had no price next to it. You do the math on that one.) The tacos were fantastic. Probably some of the best fish tacos I have ever had. Oh, and that margarita – it may have been worth the price as I could hardly function for the rest of the day and I only had one!
Jake’s is the new spot in the Lumberyard that is in the old Chilly Billy’s location. It is run by the same people who used to run the Front Yard, and kind of keeps the same hours as they advertise they are open until 4am. I can’t imagine who is in there at 4am as most stuff shuts down pretty early in Cruz Bay, and even the bars close at 2am. Anyway, we stopped in for a quick lunch as we had to pick something up at the Lumberyard. I had a BLT and the man had a cheeseburger and it wasn’t bad at all. No frozen hamburger bun, which is the bane of my existence in the Caribbean – and my bacon was cooked crispy as I asked, so extra points for someone finally cooking my bacon correctly. They were out of potatoes, which was funny because the sides are all potato-related except for pasta salad, so this is what we had. Totally Kraft Italian Dressing on my pasta salad, so points off for Kraft crap. Other than that, it was good food and probably great to scarf stuff down at 3:45 am for sure.
When the old Senorita Pizza closed at Wharfside a few months ago, I wasn’t too sad as another pizza place opened in it’s place: Wharfside Pizza. And, this place had the added bonus of installing an actual pizza oven in order to cook the pizzas. How hard can it be to make a good pizza? Hard, I guess. We picked up a couple of pies on our Day Zero in to town as we’d gotten in late and I had some drunken ladies on my hands. Even in my inebriated state, I knew deep down that the pizza sucked. Tiny toppings (many obviously canned), doughy crust, tasteless sauce and a really long wait all added up to a disappointing experience – especially from the same owners of Mojo Cafe and Waterfront Bistro, which always get good reviews.
I saw a few signs that a new Chinese restaurant called Lucky Pagoda will be opening “soon” (that could mean next week or next year using the Caribbean timetable) in the Lumberyard where the old Polly’s used to be. Not sure STJ was really missing Chinese food since the awful China Shack closed last year, but it sure can’t be any worse. I guess sometimes you need a good eggroll, but I’d rather have a fish pate from Hercules. (Update: I read today that the Lucky Pagoda is set to open tomorrow, March 11. Saw a copy of the menu and it looked pretty basic. The real trick is getting an ample supply of asian ingredients like water chestnuts, bamboo, bok choy, etc. Good luck to the Lucky Pagoda!)