The food in St. Barts has to be good enough to suit the jet-setters who return season after season to enjoy fresh oysters from Brittany, the finest patés, cheeses, and champagne from France, and spiny lobster, a favorite beachfront choice.
Restaurants are small and reservations are required in high season. Favorites for lunch include the West Indies Café at El Serenco Beach Hotel, with its breezy outdoor dining and entertainment provided by the colorful windsurfers; lobster salad at the popular Filao Beach Hotel, excellent tuna tartare at the new Tom Beach, Le Select for reggae and the best cheeseburger in town. (When Madonna lunched there, no one disturbed her).
Nights center around leisurely dining: Vincent Adam for filet mignon and creme brulé; Francois Plantation for its traditional French cuisine and matching service; Maya’s, a celebrity-studded (Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger) waterfront restaurant featuring creole cuisine and delicious salads; Le Toque Lyonnaise for grilled seafood and an extensive wine list, and L’Escale for its lasagna and hip bar.
Aside from choosing a different restaurant each day, one of the biggest decisions visitors face daily is picking a beach from one of St.Barts’ 20 or more, each blessed with a character of its own: from vast, sexy Grand Saline to intimate Gouverneur, preferred by naturists; from frisky Flamands to remote Colombier, Gros Stable, and the curiously named Washing Machine; from St. Jean to Grand Cul de Sac, favored by windsurfers.
While many visitors come to rub shoulders with the glitterati and literati in the ritziest refuge in the Caribbean, it is finally the spellbinding vistas, stone walls from another century, flaming flamboyant trees and the gracious manners of the locals (population 5,000) that make St. Barts so appealing to the world-weary.