WHERE TO EAT
Restaurant Le Sereno (formerly Les Pecheurs)
Le Sereno Hotel, Grand Cul de Sac.
One of the highlights of our stay at Le Sereno in June 2013 was the restaurant, which served up delicious food from morning until night. Breakfast included a generous helping of omelets, artisanal yogurts and vibrant fruit plates; and lunch and dinner were gastronomic delights.
The chef and cuisine have changed a couple times in recent years, but the latest reviews of the Italian cuisine are consistently excellent. And the food is still served in the same serene, stunning beachside setting.
La Cabane de L'Ile
Hotel Ile de France, Flamands beach.
Perfect spot for lunch (and we were told, a favorite among all the celebrities etc), especially the part of the restaurant that's set directly in the sand. Beautifully furnished in teak and white, with lovely flower arrangements that just screams beach chic. The service is friendly, the food was delicious (we had a Caesar salad with shrimp, a pasta with lobster), though perhaps portion were on the small side. But with a bottle of rose chilling nearby, it's hard to find a better spot to while away a few hours. There is also dining on the deck by the pool, but it's far better on the beach.
La Case de L'Ile
Hotel Ile de France, Flamands beach.
The more formal open air but covered dining space at Ile de France, it would be a nice choice for dinner.
Shellona (formerly Do Brazil)
As of Dec 2016, Do Brazil is now Shellona. I haven't heard anything about the food yet, but apparently it had an amazing line up of DJs at night (eg Solomun, Bedouin over New Year's). By day, it's a great spot for a cold beer and a dip in the remarkably clear water, enhanced by the shell nature of the beach, which is perhaps not the best underfoot but provides lots of free souvenirs.
Eden Rock Hotel, St Jean beach.
It's hard to go wrong with anything Jean Georges. His signature tuna and avocado tartare is a must - stunning presentation with robust Asian-inspired flavors. But everything is good, including the cocktails, and the beachfront setting, set up on a deck just behind the sun loungers, is great for ocean, people and plane spotting.
On the Rocks
Eden Rock Hotel, St Jean beach.
We didn't actually get a chance to come here (since we chose it for lunch), but this was definitely the place to come, especially on off season, as it's busy for dinner and drinks.
Le Petit Deauville
Gustavia. Two locations: 1) Rue Jeanne d’Arc and Rue de la République
The island's most famous ice cream and sorbet maker, the gorgeous owner Yann Colin supplies most of the top restaurants on St Barths and here you can taste any of the couple dozen familiar and unique flavours on offer.
You can't not mention Mayas when you're talking St Barths restaurants, but I personally thought this was one of the most overrated eats on the island. Yes, it's got a lovely backstory of the wife and husband team who were the first to focus on fresh, local organic food on the island. The location is charming, set right on a quiet bay filled with boats whose mast lights twinkle sweetly in the night. However, while we were JUST able to drive up and park next to the restaurant, during the last week they were open before the "dead season", the high season traffic jam we're told is not to be believed. Food was perfectly fine, we had a lot better in other restaurants during our stay, and it's terribly overpriced, even in the off-season. We had a vegetable soup that cost Euros28! And I hear prices treble over the Christmas holiday period.
Maya's to Go
By the airport.
The takeaway spot with small seating area across the street from the airport, this is where the locals come for sandwiches, salads, quiches, pastries and full entrees.
Mango or Taino
Hotel Christopher, Pointe Milou.
Mango is a lovely spot for lunch, as the poolside/waterside location offers a unique view of the island, looking back at Eden Rock and the airport from a distance. The menu is predictable (salads, seafood) but one thing we loved was the complimentary tasting of all the house-infused rums with over a dozen different aromatics (banana, vanilla). Taino is more formal, though I wouldn't bother going out of my way.
Grand cul de Sac
A trusted friend who's been coming here for years rates this as one of her favorites - a sharp departure from most of the restaurants on the island, this is casual, toes-in-the-sand dining at more reasonable prices than most. The menu is comprised mainly of salads and grilled fish and meat.
Le Toiny Restaurant (formerly Le Gaiac)
Hotel Le Toiny, Anse de Toiny.
Easily the most buttoned-up restaurant on the island, but Relais & Chateaux tasting menus are not my first choice while in the Caribbean. It's Mediterranean cuisine served in a formal setting.
CLOSED IN LOW SEASON BUT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Sadly, we missed out on these because of our timing, but friends who know this island well, rave about the following:
Considered excellent Italian in town, it was also closed when we were visiting.
This was the hot opening of 2012 - sushi bar and other Asian-inspired delights overlooking Gustavia Harbor. Sadly, closed in June.
Above Gouverneur in Lurin.
Another popular choice for its laid-back atmosphere and expansive sea views from its hilltop location just above Gouverneur Beach.
Le Guanahani Hotel and Spa, between Grand Cul de Sac and Marigot Bay.
The chef takes inspiration from French, Japanese and Italian cuisines, and according to online reviews, the lobster pasta is THE dish to get.
Gustavia. Rue de Centenaire
My goodness, after all of the glowing online reviews for this down-and-dirty local Creole place in Gustavia, we decided to come here for our last dinner in St Barths. BIG mistake. It's a popular place, no doubt about that, and the lush garden hideaway makes for a charming setting. But everything we had was pretty gross, especially the mixed Creole sampler, with every "mystery meat" component very stodgy and bland.
Le Guanahani, between Grand Cul de Sac and Marigot Bay.
We wanted to try the lobster pasta at Bartolomeo, but it was already closed for the season. So we had dinner at the poolside Indigo restaurant, which was just kind of tacky, bathed in purple flood lights (the hotel unfortunately has accent lighting like this throughout the property). Food is nicely presented and tasty, such as their local ceviche with lime, coconut and LPD pineapple sorbet, but the atmosphere just killed it for us.
Where to Eat: St Barths
Perfect spot for lunch: La Cabane de L'Ile, Ile De France, Flamands.
Tuna tartare, La Cabane de L'Ile.
Gazpacho in a bottle, Do Brazil (now closed, as of Dec 2016, place is now called Shellona)
Of course no lunch is complete without a glass (or bottle) of rose. La Cabane de L'Ile.
View from our table at Sandbar, Eden Rock Hotel, St Jean beach
Fish sandwich at Sandbar, Eden Rock
Dinnertime at Maya's, Public beach
Seaside lunch at Mango, Hotel Christopher, Pointe Milou.
AVOID: Eddy's Creole sampler
L'Indigo: decent food, cheesy atmosphere.