I have just returned from a family vacation to Anguilla, and if you think I eat a lot normally, then you do not want to see me on vacation. Despite the fact that I sit on a beach all day, with no movement with exception to me getting up to dip my feet in the ocean or to turn over to get my back tan, I still think it’s completely acceptable to gorge myself to the point of no return, to then return to my lounge chair, possibly more bloated, but definitely more tan.
Just to give myself a little credit here, for no one else’s benefit but my own, I did work out every single day on this trip, which included tennis lessons (in which my mom continued to say “you really did love tennis. You should take lessons at home”) and pilates classes, and yes sometimes both in one day, but they probably did nothing for the 3+ meal a day marathon I was running on this trip.
To give you some background on Anguilla, there are a million trillion restaurants on this small island, and almost all are on the beach, so not only did we go out every single night for a 3 course meal for dinner, but we also left our hotel every single day to go out for lunch to sit at a different beach, and shovel in some food.
“Off we go to another meal!”
“It’s like as soon as we finish lunch, we wonder where we’re going to dinner.”
“Where are you guys going to dinner tonight?”
“Can you believe it? It’s time for another meal.”
These are some of the fabulous quotes my mom continued to say over, and over, and over, AND over again to anyone that would listen to her: our driver Russell, my sister’s campfriend and his family, our new vacation friends from Long Island, our other new vacation friends from Queens, people in our Pilates class, and yes even our waiters at the restaurants (the island is small, so people generally have more than one job, so they would literally watch us stuff ourselves at breakfast in our cover-ups at our hotel, and they would see us dressed up stuffing ourselves again for dinner at a restaurant).
It was like my mom felt the need to defend our actions to everyone in sight.
I personally thought we should just try and not make it so obvious, and just accept that everyone else was doing the same thing. What else was I going to do? Run on the beach? I started to laugh as soon as I typed that.
So, was the food worth it? Hell yeah it was worth it. Anguilla has some of the best restaurants in town, and for your benefit, I am going to give you the rundown on some of the favorite spots in case any of you do decide to make a trip there.
The entire list includes recommendations, but one place pissed me off so badly that I need to begin with a review of the worst restaurant on the island of Anguilla: Jacala.
Jacala is owned by a French man named Jac, and if the name of the restaurant doesn’t give you a hint, he was maybe one of the most pompous narcissistic horrid restaurant owners I have ever encountered.
First off: he takes everyone’s orders for the entire restaurant, so you need to wait for at least 15 minutes just to order drinks, let alone dinner. Can you say control freak?
I watched as his 3 waitresses walked around scared to make the wrong move, or step out of place.
He completely ignored my family, maybe because we were all women, maybe because he could, but he came over to take our order with a smirk on his face knowing he made us wait.
And the food??? He started off by serving us a cold asparagus soup with a soggy tortilla, which tasted exactly like the soggy noodles Chinese restaurants serve you at the beginning of a meal.
And the rest? Stuffy French food with a ton of sauce. The menu is described as “intuitive” cuisine. WTF is intuitive cuisine?
It was the ONLY restaurant that we did not order dessert, and the poor waitress that came over to tell us the specials brought over a huge board with 8 different desserts listed on the chalkboard. She would say one, and then nervously stare at Jac, and then say the next, each time watching the owner move from the bar to the main room. She looked frozen in fear of saying something incorrectly.
The restaurant has a posh reputation, but every single patron besides my family was over the age of 65. Skip this place, and go for a good meal.
This was the least innovative dish, and tasted like something I could get at any run of the mill sushi spot.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce with a side of asparagus and yams.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce? Sounds delicious right? UH NO. It wasn’t even warm when they served it, and it was whatever.
Porkchop in an apricot sauce.
Porkchop with sauce, sauce, sauce sauce, and a rice that tasted like potpourri.
Now on to the good stuff:
[Click the photo above to go to Straw Hat’s website]
Straw Hat (lunch or dinner): Love itttt. We went with another family for dinner, who has a love for food like us, so it was very exciting to have some rum punch and eat with a group.
Order: the tuna flat bread, which comes with truffle aioli. I ordered it twice, once for lunch and once for dinner (as an appetizer relax, like I’d only order that).
Crabcake minus the crab, and plus the lobster. Pretty, pretty good.
Say hello to the tuna flat bread. I love it. I love it. Did I mention I love it?
Spring rolls stuffed with fresh fish. Yep, it wasn’t bad.
The appetizers were definitely the highlight of the meal, so that’s what I’m going to leave you with. Lunch is standard fare, and difficult to complain about.
[Click the photo above to go to E’s Oven’s website]
E’s Oven: This is a local spot, and hands down one of my favorite places we ate for lunch. I ordered the filet of red snapper with a side of vegetables, and so did my mom. My sister ordered the lobster club Panini with a side of fries.
“You can have fries or sal-“
The waitress was super sweet and accomidating, especially when concerning my mom’s tomato allergy.
This restaurant is not on the beach, but it was near our hotel, so we were back on the beach rather quickly.
For the record all the bread on the island was absolutely amazing. Every loaf was served fresh and warm, and this was no exception.
The best carrots I’ve ever eaten. I have no idea why. Plantains are also on that plate. My mom and sister HATE bananas, and even they liked them!
This to me is America meets the Islands: aka lobster plus club sandwich. This is a lobster club panini.
[Click the photo above to go to Smokey’s website]
Smokey’s (lunch): jerk chicken, ribs, rum, beer, all while you’re sitting on the beach. We went last year and this year, so recommendations vary. Jerk chicken wrap, the lobster roll, fish sandwich, or the ribs are all good choices. Oh, and they also offer a 50/50 plate of onion rings and fries…won’t kill you to try them.
Picante (dinner): LEGIT Mexican food. Tuna tacos, fish tacos, guacamole, even the artichoke dip is to die for. Island food is delicious, but by the end it’s like “if you hand me another piece of snapper or grouper I’m going to smack you with it.” Picante is the perfect change of pace. It’s laid back, always crowded, and they make some strong ass drinks.
And we saw Kelly Osbourne there, so there’s that.
My sister: that girl looks like Kelly Osbourne.
Me: Monica, that is Kelly Osbourne.
My sister: O heehee
My jam: the tuna tacos.
[Click the photo above to go to Barrel Stay’s website]
Barrel Stay (dinner): French with Asian influence. I loved it. Order a salad, fish with Asian noodles, crayfish, or escargot, and you won’t be disappointed. I ordered a sea food soup, which tasted like a deconstructed French onion soup with spicy seafood.
The restaurant is also on the water, and I loveddddd the chef. He came out to tell us the specials, and crouched down so we were all eye level. He was very engaging, and patient with any questions we had. He even helped me find the bathroom. He was a fabulous ying to Jacala’s putrid yang.
Here’s a little sample of what we ate: the goat cheese and asparagus salad
[Click the photo above to go to Veya’s website]
Veya (dinner): “It looks like a tree house!” my mom exclaimed multiple times. There is a live band that plays in the background, and excellent wait staff. To start get the conch fritters to or the layered salad. And for your main? Crayfish. duhhh.
[Click the photo above to go to Scilly Cay’s website]
Scilly Cay Island: The best day we had! You take a 10 minute boat ride to a small island called Scilly Cay, you lay on the beach, have the yummiest and strongest rum punch, and the food! I ordered a combo platter of lobster and crayfish, which comes in a light curry sauce, with a pasta salad and fruit. And the restaurant owner, a character!
Say hello to my little friend: lobster and crayfish combo.
And here’s the view!
[Click the photo above to go to Blanchard’s website]
Blanchards: American owners from Westchester, my people. The corn chowder is made with no cream and filled with flavor. The key lime pie is a great way to end your meal.
And they have a more casual spot next door for lunch. For $3 you can get a lounge chair for the day (can you tell it’s owned by New Yorkers?), it’s the only place on the island that charges for chairs, but it’s also the only place where you can find frozen yogurt, milkshakes along with sandwiches, salads, and burgers.
You can just tell they had Americans in mind when this restaurant was created, but still has the authentic vibe of the island with bright green and blue chairs and tables.
OYSTER FESTIVAL [Click the photo above to go to Oyster Festival’s official website]
Stone Street, Finanical District, New York, 10004
Fall seems to be the season of food festivals, so after the San Gannero festival, I decided let’s keep the ball rolling with the Oyster Festival. I went to the gym hoping it would negate the damage I’d do to myself later in the day (it didn’t) and texted my friend while on the bike, the standard question we text all our friends…
“How do I get there?” We know we can all look it up ourselves, but why not make someone else do it for us? I’m lazy, and I’m poor (and by poor, I mean my mom is going to strangle me when she sees the credit card bill) so I figured if I had to get down to Wall Street, I probably didn’t want to pay for a $15 cab or find out how to get there. My friend informs me the 4 or 5 will get me to Wall Street. I continue to text her while on the bike, which means I clearly worked my ass off at the gym.
My 21 year old hungover sister has decided to use me for my apartment once again, and sleeps soundly as I get myself ready for my day out. I tell her to get up so I can make my bed and she struggles to get up telling me she forgot where she was (oh to be young).
I manage to take the 6, transfer to the 5, and get to Wall Street, and felt like an absolute baller until I looked at my google maps and got completely lost trying to find this stupid Oyster Festival.
I keep walking left then right, and staring at my map as I watch the blue avatar of myself go to the left and right of where I’m supposed to be going. I don’t get it! I call my friend, and she tells me our other friend can see that on google maps she’s the closest so to come to her. Sure I say.
Forget this! I hail a cab tell him I’m supposed to go to Pearl Street, he legitimately drives me around the corner, and I’m magically in the center of Oyster Festival. Made it!
My friend calls me, “where are you??”
“Oh, I’m already at Oyster Festival, you can just meet me,” I say as if I’m the queen of Manhattan.
I never told them I took a cab so if you’re reading this, now you know. I’m a liar.
We walk in, and apparently this street is a wind tunnel and the tank and shorts I have on are just not cutting in.
My friend offers me her scarf or her cardigan.
“You can wrap the scarf around your head”
“I think I’ll just take the cardigan.”
We haven’t even started drinking yet.
We manage to stroll and get a look at all the stands, to see what we’re working with. I decide I have to try oysters, but end up ordering a lobster roll (two rolls for $10 and chips included). We begin our drinking. I start with a mimosa which was $8 for two sips of orange juice, and my 2 other friends are chugging sangria that might as well have been called rum.
My other friend runs to get a bloody mary, and ends up watching the ice melt, because it’s too strong for her to drink. Woops.
As we manage to walk through the mosh pit that is Oyster Festival I notice there are a lot more guys here than girls, and they’re actually good looking. My friend looks at me, “We need to come here for happy hour.”
We find a table, I upgrade to sangria, and then next thing I know I ate everything.
Pizza special: two slices and a beer for $10. (I didn’t get this, but I had a bite)
$1 Pizza Special: somewhere else. The pizza is tiny, and its $3 if you want a meat slice.
I decide it’s time for me to learn to like oysters: FAIL. I eat 6 slimy suckers for $8, and want to cry the whole time I’m eating it. They were east coast and briny, and I don’t know why people choose to eat these things.
We all somehow manage to go through 3 servings of Cajun fries: always leaving one fry left in each basket, because no one wants to eat “the last one.”
We end up finding a somewhat clean porta potty and pretend it’s our private bathroom. I end up talking to some random guy who is “from the desert” (I’m quoting here) while waiting on line, and he tells me how he’s not used to oysters, because he’s never lived by the sea. I don’t know I have to pee. He was sort of cute, but he sounded like he was giving me a presentation and I wasn’t biting.
Next thing I know I’m exhausted, pretty drunk, and full. All I want to do is shadily dip, take a $20 cab home nap, and maybe order Chinese food. But noooo my friend corners me into sharing a cab with them so we can go to a sex toy party. They’re not as cool as they sound fyi.
I end up going to this party, and realize I can’t find my friend who dragged me here. I end up finding her face down on her bed, fully dressed, make-up on, and heels hanging off her bed.
Maybe I am just like my 21 year old sister.
I stole this picture, but just so you can see how crowded it gets. It really is just one street filled with people everywhere!
Oyster Festival (beer and bloody mary)
I took the beer picture by accident, as you can tell from the quality of the picture. But don’t go to this if you’re not going to drink! It’s crowded. It’s loud. It’s really fun!
Oyster Festival (lobster roll)
It was a really good lobster roll! Not too mayo-y. I haven’t had one in a while, and I didn’t start drinking yet when I ate this, so I know it was good!
Oyster Festival (cajun fries)
Looks like we ate everything except the oysters. We ordered this THREE times. The guy saw us coming, and screamed “they’ll be ready in 10!” Considering they had to make them in bulk they were pretty good fries! Crispy and not overcooked or soggy.
Oyster Festial (pizza: two slices and a beer for $10)
It was decent pizza. It’s just a good alternative to seafood, if you don’t eat shell fish. It also is never a bad idea to eat pizza when you’re drinking.
Oyster Festival (East Coast Oysters)
I hate them. I’m sorry. I thought I could like them a little bit, but I can’t stand East Coast oysters. I can stomach West Coast. EEK
122 East 7th Street (b/t 1st and Avenue A) New York, NY 10009
Since starting this Dukan Diet I have literally been shoveling in all forms of steak, turkey and chicken, and even sashimi and any baked fish I can get my hands on (I mean I had been trying the Skinny Bitch (vegetarian) diet for a while so this was a whole new world for me).
With that being said, I’m sort of sick of all this food, so I was dying to come up with a new way to continue my diet (after two weeks of doing this and I had already cheated…I mean I have a food blog what did you expect?) so my mind wandered to oysters.
I don’t die for them like some people, but I thought this was a good opportunity to expand my palate, so I found Desnuda, a Cevicheria (and oyster bar) and wine bar…an anorexic alcoholic’s dream. Yay!!
I convinced my lush of a cousin to join me (she had oysters the night before, but I think the wine bar swayed her), and I was on my way.
Desnuda is on a block in the East Village, which has a million and one amazing restaurants, so as I was aimlessly searching for the restaurant (no sense of direction AT ALL) I walked by three restaurants I was interested in for my next adventure (still haven’t been to Pylos or Luke’s Lobster) before I made it to Desnuda to be greeted by my cousin already sipping a glass of wine at the bar.
“Is there seating in the back?”
“I think it’s just the bar, “wine bar.””
“Oh, I get it.”
I order the same glass of rose as my cousin (I trust her) and scan what’s happening around me. There is a date happening next to my cousin (which I will agree, it is a fab date spot), and two gay men and their lady friend sitting to my right.
The bartender plops down truffle popcorn in front of us, and I slide it closer to my cousin and I. I suddenly realize it might be for the whole bar.
“I’m sorry is this yours?”
One of the gay guys looks up and replies, “no, it’s yours. They give it to everyone once they order a drink.”
“They must like you better than me, because they didn’t give me popcorn when I sat down,” my cousin says.
While that’s nice of her to say, I’m pretty sure they were just waiting for the rest of her party to arrive. I don’t think they thought my cousin came to a wine bar to sit by herself and drink (that’d be so sad).
My cousin had already scanned the menu and decided she was very into two tuna ceviche options, and a lobster ceviche. I really had my heart set on oysters so we figured we’d split one ceviche, and go our own way on one dish.
“Which tuna do you want?”
“I can’t eat fruit on my diet, so whichever one doesn’t have fruit.” (I already had popcorn woops).
“They both don’t.”
“Let’s do the spicy one.”
Then the bartender/waiter/chef (he does it all!) tells us about the specials of the day. I can’t tell if he lists two specials or one, because I only caught the first sentence and the last sentence, but I was into it.
“Maybe we should get a special and a ceviche, and then see what happens next.”
“Excuse me, was that one special or two?” (we’re dumb)
“We’ll get the first one,” (which was hamachi).
I sadly was buzzed from the one glass, and my cousin was cruising to her second.
“I like to try new drinks,” my cousin says.
“What are you getting next?”
“Can you get white wine after you have red, or is it the other way around?”
“I have no clue.”
“I don’t want the waiter to think I’m dumb.”
“Who cares if he thinks you’re dumb, just order a drink.”
She gets the cava, while I just get a second round of the rose. What do I know??
I then watch the bartender/waiter whip out a weird gadget and place glass bobbles on the table that look like round light bulbs: smoke starts going everywhere, and we hear him instruct our neighbors, “wait a minute ½ for this, and then eat this one minute after…”
Sounds complicated, but I’m jealous. What are they eating?
Tea smoked oysters.
Our tuna ceviche comes first, but I was convinced it was the hamachi, because when I ordered I said “we’ll have the Hamachi and the tuna ceviche” so I had assumed it’d arrive in that order, which in retrospect makes absolutely no sense, but like I said I had one glass and was tipsy.
So good! and SO spicy!
Hamachi is prepared next, and is just so so pretty. I like the tuna better, but the Hamachi was yummy, but they put salt and pepper on top, and it was just way too salty.
My cousin is up to glass #3, while I’m treading lightly with #2. I decide it’s only right if we get a third dish, and the lobster ceviche is ordered, which was my favorite by far, probably because it was the least healthy according to my diet. It came with mango (oops), and it was mixed with coconut milk (douple oops).
“The guy next to me keeps bumping his elbow into me,” my cousin says.
“Do you want to move seats?”
“No, it’s ok. I think he has an accent. Maybe he’s Israeli.”
“If he’s bumping into you then he’s definitely Israeli,” and we start cracking up, we’re hysterical! (she married an Israeli, judge me if you will, but they’re pushy sometimes, but I’m ride or die for my homeland).
As we’re paying the bill, I realize I’m not even one step closer to liking oysters more, but I like ceviche more.
Desnuda (rose wine)
It’s a wine bar so I have to highlight the wine. Here it is. I know nothing, and I can’t give an ounce of an educated summary of the flavors, but I drank it, and it increased my BAC, so I’m into it.
Desnuda (truffle popcorn)
The beginning of the end of my diet. Some people are a little over truffle’d everything. Sometimes I agree, but not this time. I don’t know why I’ve never had this before! AMAZING, and worth just going for wine and the popcorn!
Desnuda (tuna ceviche with jalapenos and scallions)
This was SO spicy. I really liked it though, and I thought it was good quality tuna. It was the right cut, and had good flavor!
Desnuda (hamachi: with scallions and salt and pepper)
A little salty but I scraped the salt off and threw the scallion everywhere! You can see the jalapeno on the side, which was accidentally left over from the tuna. I’m messy.
Desnuda (lobster ceviche: coconut milk and mangos)
I couldn’t find the detailed description on the online menu, but trust me when I say I died for this. I love lobster in general, and I was obsessed with the mango/coconut milk combo.