Saturday, December 7, 2013

Da Restaurants...Dey be good!

One of our favorite pastimes is eating out. Although we loved our stay in the Bahamas, restaurants were few and far between.  I was ready for a break from cooking, and the restaurants on Providenciales had so much to offer.… from contemporary dining venues to open air bistros to beach side dining.  The Turks and Caicos has attracted residents from around the world and the local and expatriate chefs have taken full advantage of a seemingly never-ending supply of marine cuisine: conch, lobster, and a variety of fish such as tuna, yellowtail snapper and wahoo.  

We wanted to try them all!  We made it our mission to eat at as many restaurants that we could… we liked some of the restaurants so much we visited them twice!

Our first order of business was to compare the conch salad of the Bahamas to the conch salad of the Turks and Caicos.  Our immigration agent, Claude, recommended a local eatery on the beach, Bugaloo's Conch Crawl.  

Bugaloo's Conch Crawl offers a different dining experience... Yep, these tourists are having lunch even as the tide rises around them! (Twenty-somethings optioning for high adventure dining...) We opted for the more mature "high and dry" option on the beach. 

Bugaloo's has fresh conch, prepared to order.  When I say "prepared to order", I mean literally prepared to order.  The conch are kept alive in a pen out in the water in front of the restaurant.  Local conch fishermen bring the conch in by boat and place it in the pen.


The conch harvesters wade out to the pen and pick up the conch shells in a wheelbarrow.  They set up on the beach, cracking the conch shells, removing the meat and pounding the conch meat with a mallet to tenderize it.

A bit about conch  (pronounced "KONK")….. While the shell is certainly beautiful, the meat of this mild-tasting mollusk is not about to win any beauty contests.  When the conch shell is "cracked" (a hole is poked in the end) to release the meat, what comes out looks unappetizing, to say the least.  

Once the meat has been expertly trimmed and tenderized, it becomes a delight to eat.  Conch appears on just about every menu in the TCI.   Conch salad is conch in its most natural form….raw conch meat diced into small cubes, lime juice, chopped onion, green pepper, tomato seasoned with crushed pepper or Tabasco.  The conch salad at Bugaloo's was delicious.  We also had grilled shrimp with rice and a fresh salad. 

Now that we had our conch salad fix, we wanted to experience fine dining on Providenciales.  Coco Bistro was the hands-down favorite of the recommendations.   

Coco Bistro offered continental Caribbean cuisine in open-air dining under a canopy of coconut palms and foliage.  What could be more romantic?  We had a meal fit for a king! I had grilled lobster, jasmine rice with snow peas, and LA had grilled Tuna with risotto and fresh vegetables.  Coupled with fine wine and homemade ice cream for dessert, it was a special dining experience.

Our new friends, Byron and Polly, asked us to meet them at their favorite conch restaurant, Da Conch Shack.  

Located in the Blue Hills section of the island, Da Conch Shack is located on yet another beautiful beach beside a sparkling ocean.  

Polly and I headed out to the beach to chat with Charles, the local shell salesman.  He tried mightily to get us to purchase shells, but to no avail.  Polly, being a local, had no interest in his tourist trap offerings, and I, living on a boat, had no room! I REALLY wanted one of those beautiful shells, but I knew LA would KILL me if I showed up with one. One of these days, I am going to buy some of these shells, but today was not that day. (Mainly because I had no place to hide the darn them and I would get busted by my shell monitor.)

We started out with Da Conch Shack's infamous rum punch and moved on to great fresh conch salad for me and LA and conch fritters and conch bisque for Polly and Byron.  We had a great time visiting and getting to know each other… finding out how much we had in common and listening to Byron and Polly's tales of life on the island.

Our gastronomic tour of Turks and Caicos continued on… Le Bouchon du Village: a French sidewalk cafe.  We had appetizers, salads, and a great Sauvignon Blanc for lunch. It was so good that we returned on another day just to sample more items on the menu.

Mango Reef Resort (at Alexandra Resort):  Caribbean fare Beachfront dining overlooking gorgeous Grace Bay Beach

Salt Bar and Grill at Blue Haven Marina: Afternoon drinks on the patio

Other places we dined were Tiki Hut Island Eatery: Dockside at Turtle Cove Marina, is a family-style restaurant serving salads, seafood, sandwiches. Danny Bouy's Irish Pub: standard Irish and American pub fare, Monday night football.

We enjoyed our gastronomic tour of Providenciales!  We got fatter, and our wallet got thinner!  But a good time was had by all….

Until next time!

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