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Best Bites in Bermuda
(2015 - Winter Issue)

Writer: Andrew John Virtue Dobson

I spent my first morning in Bermuda waking up to the world on the alfresco pool deck at the Hamilton Princess, which offers jaw-dropping uninterrupted views of Hamilton Harbour.

While I sipped on a frothy latte a flock of small birds swooped down onto my table, bobbing their heads up and down, eager to dive into a bowl of granola-adorned yogurt, which patiently awaited my attention. The brilliant pink sunrise splashed across the horizon as it warmed a parade of cumulus clouds resting along the Atlantic.

I would be spending the next three days working through the island’s top culinary establishments, eagerly sipping and nibbling my way through Bermuda’s most delicious dishes.

Best Fried Fish Sandwich

The Hamilton Princess is an ideal home base for those looking to explore the island from top to bottom. Hop in a taxi and after a short drive you’ll arrive at Bermuda’s most celebrated hole-in-the-wall, Art Mel’s Spicy Dicey.

Be sure to order the kitchen’s iconic fried fish sandwich, an epic beast featuring breaded crispy local snapper, crunchy coleslaw, tomato and tartar all stuffed between two slices of freshly baked raisin bread. I grabbed my paper bag to go and, moments later, I was munching while I soaked up the sun on the balcony of my posh pad.

Afternoon Tea at Pretty Perfumery

In the UNESCO-designated Historic Town of St. George sits one of Bermuda’s sweetest pleasures. Founded in 1928, the Bermuda Perfumery seduces its visitors with colognes and perfumes that are inspired by the island itself. Spritzing through a choir of pretty glass bottles one picks up aromas reminiscent of cedar, lily, pink rose and ginger. Today the Bermuda Perfumery is located in historic Stewart Hall, where each bottle continues to be filled individually by hand.

Once you’ve finished sniffing yourself silly, hop across the hallway and plop yourself down for a proper afternoon tea at Sweet P. This hidden treasure is known for its sumptuous cakes, tarts and finger sandwiches, which are arranged on a classic three-tiered dessert tray alongside steaming pots of fine English tea. A perfumery that also serves lemon curd-slathered scones? A perfect pairing for those who have a penchant for sweet smells and dainty doilies. 

Craft Beer at the Historic Dockyards

The Royal Naval Dockyard is a short 30-minute ferry from downtown Hamilton and was once the principal base of the Royal Navy in the Western Atlantic between American Independence and the Cold War. Following the closure of most of the base as an active naval dockyard in 1957, it fell into disrepair.

Beginning in the 1980s increased tourism to Bermuda stimulated interest in renovating the dockyard and turning it into a tourist attraction. Today, cruise ships regularly moor at the dockyard during summer months, which keeps the neighbourhood bustling. The dockyard is currently undergoing a facelift and expansion as it has been selected as the venue for the 2017 America’s Cup, the world’s premiere sailing event.

Pop by the Frog and Onion Pub to sip through Bermuda’s only locally produced beer. If you fancy a hoppy adventure, ask your bartender for the beer sampler where six ounces of each of the pub’s handcrafted beers are freshly poured and delivered to your table. Highlights include citrus-forward Whale of Wheat, bitter-blessed Trunk Island Pale Ale and full-bodied Black Anchor Porter.

A Decadent Italian Feast

Gracing 97 hectares of beautiful waterfront property, Rosewood Tucker’s Point is an award-winning hideaway, which offers breathtaking vistas of Castle Harbour, Harrington Sound and the Atlantic.

I dropped by for an unforgettable afternoon at the hotel’s Sense Spa where I spent a few leisurely hours wrapped in a plush robe on the hunt for rest and relaxation. The spa offers beauty treatments inspired by the island’s rich culture ranging from massages and facials to manicures and pedicures. The indulgent atmosphere features a quiet relaxation room, serene reflecting pool, a quiet garden and nearby swimming pool, which spa guests are encouraged to use at their leisure. After sipping a hot pot of peppermint tea, I was motioned into a glowing treatment room. For the next hour, I was lulled to sleep by a Cedar Warming Massage, a full-body, deeply penetrating massage, which uses local cedar and juniper essential oils to melt away muscle tension. 

After finishing up at the spa, I headed to the resort’s Sul Verde Italian-inspired dining room. Sul Verde is Italian for “on the green,” a fitting name as the popular restaurant is located at the resort’s clubhouse. Milano-native chef Guido Brambilla is at the helm and has done an excellent job showcasing the simple pleasures that can only be found when digging into rustic Italian. 

I followed my waiter from the front door toward my table; he paused to point out the massive feasting table in the centre of the room. It teemed with a fresh antipasto-inspired buffet featuring a half dozen salads, an assortment of charcuterie, petite quiche, scorched asparagus, endless mountains of cheese (including a bowl filled with plump housemade burrata), fresh focaccia, housemade pickles, marinated vegetables, raw fish and chorizo-stuffed jalapeño. The all-you-can-eat buffet is but a wee US$20 and a perfect option for those who have just golfed a tiresome 18 holes and are eager to explore a diversity of tastes and textures without having to commit to one dish.

Historic Steakhouse Spectacular

The 350-year-old Waterlot Inn at Fairmont Southampton is that special place you choose to celebrate an anniversary, birthday, new job, or in my particular case, an evening where one’s simply looking to dig into something decadent.

The show began with pomp and panache as flaming rum and sherry pepper sauce poured into a tiny bowl of classic Bermudian fish chowder. After a quick sip I indulged in a perfectly seared wagyu striploin topped with confit tomato, adorned with soy caviar.

The French onion soup arrived at the table covered in a crusty casing, a medley of four cheeses, which offered a playful, stringy mess while poking through to discover sweet veal broth muddled with caramelized onions. I ordered the plate of beef carpaccio not because I felt I needed more beef (heaven knows we would be digging into a massive steak later on) but because I couldn’t pass up on an opportunity to cut through buttery burrata.

I didn’t quite realize how excessively we were eating until a half-kilo “cowboy” ribeye topped with garlic shrimp and slathered in ginger beer sauce was placed gently at the centre of the table. I ensured our arteries clogged while gobbling up decadent butter and fromage-enriched three-cheese potato gratin, which was served alongside a steaming ramekin stuffed with rich truffled mac & cheese.

By the time we had polished off the savoury dishes I urgently had to unclasp my belt in order to simply breathe. Of course, the marathon is not over until the fat lady whimpers so, with gusto and perhaps a wee bit of pained enthusiasm, I grabbed a tiny spoon to tackle a trilogy of sweets.

And here is the lesson we take away today. All too often folks who dress up fancy to indulge in the romantic ritual of the steakhouse stuff themselves silly on the salty without putting much thought into pacing. While I might have been sporting a gut, which read “gluttony,” the kitchen’s pastry chef wowed with a steaming sticky toffee pudding, an inventive homage to the Snickers bar, and a pecan-and-marshmallow-adorned signature mud pie. One waddles home from these sorts of races.

Travel Planner

To plan your culinary adventure in Bermuda, visit gotobermuda.com.

For more information on these venues, visit:

Hamilton Princess, Bermuda: thehamiltonprincess.com

Frog and Onion Pub and Dockyard Brewing Co.: frogandonion.bm

Rosewood Tucker’s Point: rosewoodhotels.com/en/tuckers-point-bermuda

The Bermuda Perfumery: bermuda-perfumery.com

Waterlot Inn at Fairmont Southampton: fairmont.com/Southampton-bermuda/dining/waterlotinn

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