Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dining in Grand Case..c'est magnifique!

The dining scene on St. Martin is well-known for being one of the most impressive and famous in the Caribbean. The island is considered by many food experts as being the food capital of the Caribbean. Although the island is just a mere 37 square miles, there are an astounding 400-plus restaurants to choose from! 

Although there are restaurants located all over the island, there is one town in particular that receives more accolades and dining praises than any other, which is Grand Case. This charming seaside village has been thrown into the international spotlight from its famous "restaurant row" where dozens of high end dining establishments line Boulevard de Grand Case. 

On a Tuesday evening during high season (January to April), we traveled by taxi to Grand Case after the Marigot Carnival parade. Boulevard de Grand Case was closed off to traffic due to the weekly Harmony Nights festival which involved a parade, musicians, street food, and local vendors. Tables for dining were set up along the streets for parade and people watching.

We ate at one of the local "lolos" or rib shacks.  All types of food is served. From BBQ ribs and chickens to grilled lobster, there is something to please every palate.

LA and I carefully checked out the menu and decided on BBQ ribs and chicken.

 And beer, or course. 

After dinner, we walked down the street and did some serious people watching. The French police made their presence known, but the crowd was very well behaved.

This street vendor sold homemade salad dressings, flavored vinegars and custom liquors in brightly colored hand-painted bottles.

Jewelry was a big attraction. This vendor was selling blue larimar pieces from the Dominican Republic.  I wasn't tempted as LA had already bought two pair of larimar earrings for me when we visited Puerto Plata in the DR.

French Crepes for dessert! Local ladies had a booth set up and it was a popular place. I waited in line for 20 minutes to get my order, Grand Marnier crepes.  I was determined to have authentic French crepes.  They were definitely worth waiting for! 

After visiting Grand Case during carnival, we definitely wanted to return to try one of the fine dining establishments on "restaurant row".  We secured reservations at the number one French restaurant on the island,  L’Auberge Gourmande. Located in the center of restaurant row in Grand Case, L’Auberge
Gourmande serves authentic French cuisine in an intimate dining room in one of the oldest Créole houses on the island. Lovingly remodeled in subtle browns and yellows, the wood and stone of the old house was a charming place to have a memorable night of dining.

We wondered how these restaurants obtain such fine food on a small island in the Caribbean. The trump card is a modern international airport well served by lots of direct flights from Europe and the United States. “So chefs here lack for nothing,” says Pascal Narme, owner and chef of L’Auberge Gourmande. “What was in the market in Paris in the morning can be here in the afternoon and on the table that night.”

We were seated inside the restaurant and served a complementary glass of champagne to begin the evening.  It was a lovely intimate atmosphere with local Caribbean art on the wall.  The friendly staff provided excellent service and recommended suggestions for our meal and wine. Freshly baked french bread and homemade butter complemented the meal.

The food...superb. LA had rack of lamb and I had apricot-pecan stuffed pork tenderloin. It was presented on lovely china specially made for the restaurant. 

Dessert was a sublime lemon tart with homemade mango sorbet. 

What a fabulous dining experience! We can see why this restaurant receives such high ratings! ...c'est magnifique!  

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