Saint Martin 2019: Part 2 - Restaurants
During our previous trips to Saint Martin my husband and I discovered many good restaurants in the Cupecoy and Maho areas. Among our favorites were Temptation, Escape, Fig, Rare and Delight. We liked the convenience of a short 5 minute drive or even a walk to most restaurants in the evening. In 2016-17 the whole area between Cupecoy and Maho developed nicely into a lovely area with many exciting restaurants, bars, two casinos and easy parking.
Once in a while we would venture to Le Tropicana in Marigot, Le Ti Bouchon in Cul de Sac or Bistrot Caraibes in Grand Case. We knew there were many restaurants in the Simpson bay area as well but for some reason we never tried any of them.
We were sad that Hurrican Irma (2017) damaged or destroyed many of the restaurants we frequented. It was time to find some new establishments so I read reviews on TripAdvisor and TravelTalkOnline forums and compiled a new list for this year to try.
As we didn’t want to drive far from the Cupecoy area in the evening, most of the restaurants we tried were in the vicinity.
Our first night we went to Mario Bistrot and were delighted with our dinner. We returned twice more during our 10 day stay.
Cupecoy Plaza is very lovely in the evening with restaurants having al fresco dining.
The square fills up as the evening progresses and becomes lively with sounds of people talking and having a wonderful time in the surrounding restaurants. I don’t remember it being this popular on our previous trips.
Our favorite dish at Mario Bistrot hands down was filet mignon. My husband had it all three times we were there and I had it twice. Not only was the filet itself very flavorful, everything else on the plate was delicious as well including the very soft and almost sweet tasting roasted garlic. We later tried the filet at Moulin Fou and it wasn’t as great.
One evening I had a special of the night, duck confit with sweet and sour sauce. While I enjoyed the duck itself I found the sauce a little bit overpowering. I prefer straightforward duck confit without any sauce the way they make it in Paris bistrots.
Between my husband and I and my parents-in-law Nancy and David we tried several desserts including profiteroles and molten Valrhona chocolate cake.
Both desserts were delicious but the winner was the chocolate, hazelnut and banana tart
The banana part made this dessert a standout. Unlike the chocolate molten cake which is classic and good but a bit boring in my opinion, the banana chocolate tart was a more fresh take on a chocolate dessert.
Overall Mario Bistrot was our absolute favorite. The menu is not very extensive but they have several specials every night. Portions are pretty generous. My husband and I never ordered appetizers and were glad we didn’t. We were afraid it would be too much food. Entree and dessert combo was plenty for us. David and Nancy got salads and other appetizers and they were well prepared and large, pretty much a meal in itself.
The restaurant is on the more expensive side with entrees ranging from around $30 to $44 but the quality of food speaks for itself.
We also tried a more reasonable restaurant Altro in the same Cupecoy Plaza.
They serve a three-course dinner for $26. Their portions are not as large as in some other restaurants. That was great for us on the days when we didn’t feel like being in a food coma after our meal. We went there twice.
We loved the olive oil they serve with bread, very flavorful!. The wait for dishes sometimes feels a bit long and, it’s nice to have a bite of bread while waiting.
Although my husband Brian barely ever eats tuna he enjoyed Altro’s tuna carpaccio appetizer. He also liked their octopus with warm potatoes.
I ordered the tomatoes and breaded mozzarella cheese appetizer and it was a perfect start for a meal. I also tried the roasted eggplant, hummus, chickpeas and it was equally good.
When we went there for the first time I got the linguini with seared tuna for my entree . My husband and others had the slow cooked beef with creamy horseradish and raved about it.
On our second visit I had it as well and liked it better than pasta with seared tuna.
Our desserts apple pie and chocolate Charlotte were pleasant but not as great as desserts in some other restaurants. This was the only weak part of the meal for me. Otherwise, Altro is a good choice if you still want to eat delicious food but don’t want to spend a lot or overeat.
Even though Moulin Fou in Maho is not a new restaurant it was new to us. I had it on my list of restaurants to try in Saint Martin during our previous trips but we never got to it.
I have to say we were very pleasantly surprised. First of all the menu is extensive so there are many things to try. We dined 3 times there but could have returned a couple of times more. The dishes are inventive and beautifully presented.
I loved my tuna special. I also had their regular seared tuna entree and it was very good as well. We live in Hoboken, NJ right next to Manhattan but I don’t see seared tuna much on menus around. Upon arrival to Saint Martin I indulged in eating tuna whenever I could.
Brian liked his roasted salmon with crispy vegetable wrap and pea sauce so much that he had it twice.
I love duck so I couldn’t resist the shepherd’s pie with candied duck and mushroom sauce. it was nice but a bit too hearty for me.
Moulin Fou’s salads are fresh and their garlic bread is the best I have ever tried.
For desserts we tried the pear tart with caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream and the creme brûlée. I loved the fact that their pear tart as well as apple tart is not overly sweet and is pretty light. The creme brûlée is good but not as good as our favorite at Le Tropicana in Marigot.
The molten chocolate cake stuffed with flambeed bananas also hit the spot.
One of the other new restaurants on our list was Bar Code in Jordan village near the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. We really liked the area with several restaurants and bars lined up in one block. Feels more low key and young than other parts of Saint Martin. Bar code has a very nice vibe with inside and outside seating. The prices are reasonable. As for food it was hit and miss for us.
Brian liked his fish and chips. The fish was light and crispy and the chips were good.
I wasn’t so lucky. My Latina salad with quinoa and chickpeas and shrimp didn’t taste as fresh as the salads in Mario Bistrot or Moulin Fou while the price was as high as in those two establishments. The shrimp was so salty that I barely finished it. I’d return to the restaurant for the vibe and drinks which were reasonable but not so much for food.
We also went for dinner to L’Oursin restaurant in Belmond La Samanna as my parents-in-law had a memorable meal there before. The restaurant wasn’t on my radar as it was never mentioned on the travel forums I frequent. I have to say that it was disappointing. Brian and I expected much more given the hotel reputation and prices.
The dinner started nicely with a croquet for amuse bouche. Then came our entrees.
My red snapper special was one of the most boring fish entrees I have ever had. It didn’t strike me with freshness or wonderful texture either.
Brian’s pulled pork was slathered in some sauce which was not really good and overpowered the pork. The good news was that my parents-in-law both got filet mignon and enjoyed it.
For dessert we had mini babas au rum and I thought “finally something delicious in this restaurant!”. We were also presented with a freebie plate of mini cookies and cream puffs. The puffs were so tasty that I would have ordered them as a dessert if they were on the menu.
L’oursin was the priciest restaurant on our trip ( starters 26-38 Euros, entrees 47-59 euros) and the most disappointing. We had much better meals at restaurants priced twice less. The service was nice.
Even though we tried to stay close to Sapphire in Cupecoy in the evening we had to check out one of our favorite restaurants from before, Le Tropicana in Marina Royal, Marigot. I didn’t take a picture in the evening but took one when we stopped by to check out the marina during daytime.
Several of us ordered the red snapper with crab meat filled pasta shells special and thoroughly enjoyed it. For dessert Brian and I had to have their creme brûlée which we find the best.
It’s definitely more flavorful than the creme brûlée at Moulin Fou or even Mario Bistrot.
There was also an interesting “After Eight” mint chocolate special on the menu.
Another restaurant we went to for the first time was Sol e Luna in Cul de Sac. We had a swim in Anse Marcel beach but couldn’t stay there for lunch as we didn’t have a reservation. Having heard about Sol e Luna we decided to check it out.
Sol E Luna is a hotel and restaurant in the Mont Vernon area.
The restaurant has a pleasant terrace and inside seating with a mix of tourists and locals dining. We had a prix fixe lunch for 26 euros.
Brian was happy with his red snapper tataki appetizer.
My salad and baked brie was also good. I especially liked brie in a pastry crust.
I had sea bass with grape sauce and Brian had pasta with basil and mozzarella for our entrees. My piece of sea bass was the smallest piece of cooked fish I was ever served and there were too many raisins on the plate. They were overwhelmingly sweet, I left most of them on the plate. My entree was almost non existent. Brian’s pasta was a better choice.
We had mango pannacotta and triple chocolate dessert to finish our meal. Both were nice but not particularly memorable.
The meal was very similar to our dinner in Altro but overall we liked the flavors and the quality of food at Altro better.
Saint Martin restaurants never cease to amaze us with their inventive delicious creations. As I mentioned before we live across from Manhattan and dine there often as there are so many choices. However, if some of Saint Martin’s restaurants like Mario Bistrot or Moulin Fou were there we would go there in a heartbeat. We are going to miss not only beautiful Saint Martin itself but all the amazing food there.
As an artist I have painted many still-life paintings. I find food very inspiring.