July 2008by Stacey Curdie
Dinner itself can be a night out for us. In our circle, vacations are meant for sun worshipping, cocktail sipping, and lingering over ambiance-filled evenings of great conversation and phenomenal food. Barbados has had quite an explosion of notable restaurants over the past 10 years. On the top of our list is the Cliff – a pricey-but-worth-every-penny fairy tale cliff-side location with consistently excellent food and superior service. We still laugh about the time Marianne, in order to give me an excuse to lean over and glance at a table across the way, nudged her lighter off the table next to me. Before I could bend to retrieve the lighter, a waiter had swooped in, caught the lighter, and, flicking it to life, offered me a light! Equally attentive service can be found at the Restaurant at South Seas. Again, this is not cheap eats, but if you want to make a night of it, this refined eatery is directly on the water of the South Coast and offers an usual menu including alligator. Ambiance and the menu compete for superiority at the phenomenal Café Luna at Little Arches Hotel, also on the South Coast.
While we were sorry to find the Coach House gone from its usual location on the West Coast, we were happy to find it had moved just up the road to Sunset Crest where it has been reinvented as the Beach House. We had a great lunch on the pretty blue and white outside dining area. Similarly, Suga Suga beach bar and restaurant has been purchased by Royal Westmoreland Beach Club and is now called Mullins On the Beach. The same lovely atmosphere, great location, and a new, interesting menu kept this place on our list of regular stops.
For a more relaxed atmosphere and exceptional local fare, don't miss Oistins fish fry on Friday nights. It's a party atmosphere that actually reminds us of our local fall fares in New Hampshire. Tens of food stands selling the freshest most deliciously seasoned seafood, picnic tables, vendors selling jewelry, beachwear, and all manner of local crafts, and a huge stage area create a casual party atmosphere where crowds of tourists and locals gather to eat, dance and people watch. For a quieter meal and a wider variety of menu items (chicken and ribs as well as fish), try Just Grillin' on the West Coast just below Holetown (or their South Coast location across from Accra beach). Also in Holetown and new to us, was Spago, a small Italian place known by locals for their pizza. While we were dismayed at first by the lackluster service, the crisp fresh salads and tasty pizza soon made us forget our complaints.
Always an eclectic, fun place to hang out and have a drink, Holetown has become one of the new hotspots for nightlife. The cramped but fun Mews - where the party routinely spills out into the street - has some competition now with the new Elbow Room which attracts a young crowd. For a different twist, we also found a new place called Lexie’s Piano bar. If you’re looking for nightlife though, be sure to check the island information brochures or ask a local where to go on which night. There are tons of fun clubs (Harbor Lights, Ship Inn, Club Extreme) but you need to know which place is the "lime" on which night. This trip, for example, Wednesday was the night to go to Harbor Lights, whereas you'll find the crowd in Holetown on Tuesdays or Fridays.
Barbados is the perfect Caribbean destination because it's got something to offer everyone, the people are warm and welcoming, and the island is well developed and yet maintains a beautiful, Caribbean charm. In fact, we found there had been huge changes and improvements made since our last trip, particularly in Bridgetown. Kensington Oval, the cricket field, was overhauled for World Cup cricket and looks great. Even more impressive though, is the conversion of a parking lot in the heart of Bridgetown into Independence Park, a lovely spot to relax. With green space, an amphitheatre and plenty of seating the park is particularly pretty lit up at night. According to our friends on the island there are dozens of similar improvements planned around the island. One thing's for sure, we can't wait to go back and check on the progress! And when we do, we'll be staying at Villa BS CAS!
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