International Dining: Bermuda, Part I

The dining scene in Bermuda is one we have been exposed to before. Thirty years ago, we stayed at the Elbow Beach Hotel on our honeymoon. It required us to “dress for dinner” which included a jacket and tie for my husband and for me to be adorned with dresses. The food was fabulous, and I remember my husband ordering a fish that was filleted right at our white skirted table for two.  We ate well, but it was somewhat “stuffy” as we were young professionals just starting out and did not have much.  Dressing for dinner was well beyond our scope of experience and as it turned out, one we have never had an affinity for revisiting. While I like to look my best and wear dresses accompanied by coordinating, fancy shoes, my husband prefers the casual-ness of khaki shorts with a collarless, screen printed t-shirt.

Bermuda is extremely expensive – especially, in terms of eating. It took most the savings we had three decades ago just to afford a week-long honeymoon on this beautiful island.  At the time, having our meals included in our travel package made sense. It assured we were well fed, did not have to hunt for affordable places to eat, and were exposed to some wonderful cuisine.

Still, years later, my husband cringed at the thought of having to dress for dinner again.  When we returned to this island paradise in 2007, my husband was attending a work related conference, and we had our three boys along for the trip. We did not have a package for meals, and consequently, spent a great deal of time anxiously hunting for affordable food. Hamilton, at the time, appeared to be run down and we ended up making several grocery store runs for fried chicken take out, as well as crackers and cheese. The poolside grill provided the most affordable meals, but when you are feeding a family of five, it still gets expensive when an ala carte burger is in the $15.00 – $20.00 range.  The most memorable eating experience from that trip was, unfortunately, a negative one. The night we arrived, we ate at one of the highly rated hotel restaurants. Our boys ordered spaghetti and it was one of the worst meals our family has ever had. One hundred and twelve dollars and five stomach aches later, we learned an important lesson – know where and what you are going to eat in Bermuda!  You also need to know how much you are comfortable spending for food during your trip.

Our latest trip, the one we returned from two days ago, was different. Armed with the past knowledge of two prior trips, and fortified by pre-trip research and online reservation capabilities, we had wonderful dining experiences.  But, again, this time there was only two of us – my husband and I.

Ocean Club first night 2017

In 2017, Bermuda remains a hugely expensive place to eat.  This is put into some perspective by realizing that the island must import almost all of the products used to produce first class dining experiences. Nothing in Bermuda comes cheap. We had some help in that when I booked our trip, the package we selected came with breakfast for two everyday. This breakfast turned out to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the day, seated and served in the critically acclaimed Windows on the Water at the Fairmont Southhampton. Gentility abounds at this resort. We were greeted politely by a host or hostess and seated, complete with a view of the ocean and a napkin placed gently on our lap. Breakfast encouraged my husband and I to eat heartily but healthy, including things like yogurt, fresh and dried fruit, scones, cold cuts, cream cheese, and nuts in our daily diet.  Juice was offered and poured liberally each morning, allowing a choice between a fresh squeezed blend and orange juice. Coffee and tea were also generously refilled until one could desire no more.  Breakfast was a great start to each day in Bermuda.

I used the open table app prior to leaving on our trip to make reservations.  Restaurants fill up fast on this tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean.  We arrived with 2 dinner reservations made and a list of other restaurants to try.  The internet greatly added to our ability to plan for and secure meals in Bermuda. You can look at full menus, reviews (always taken with a grain of salt), and  prices. Essentially, you know what you are getting into before you go. I strongly recommend that you do a little internet dinner prep before you go.

In part II of this blog piece, I will share some of the places we ate, the interesting international waitstaff we had a chance to converse with, whether “dressing for dinner” dress codes are still adhered to, and if our expectations were met with gastronomic pleasure or not.

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