STRIPLVDINING - Sint Maarten by VegasFoodNerd



By Vegas Food Nerd

This lucky Nerd got the chance to travel to the island destination of St. Maarten recently. This Caribbean island has the distinction of having the most restaurants and diverse cuisine than any other white, sandy isle in the Caribbean. So of course, before embarking on my long journey, I did a bit of research to determine which of this half Dutch, half French island’s restaurants might turn me into full-on happy geekness.  

Our family has been visiting St. Maarten for a long, long time, and when we go, the main priority stop on each trip is La Croissanterie. Fresh baked, warm, flaky, buttery and life-changing, their Croissants are half the reason you book your return flight to this place. This time I got to sample their Ham and Cheese Croissants, and they were leaps and bounds better than the ham and cheese ones I used to buy at the old food court in my hometown.

Located on the French side of the island, this tiny, easy-to-miss spot offers authentic French cuisine served to you by Frenchmen who can barely speak English, and that is a very, very good thing. We happened on this spot one night and were served a meal that I will remember for a very long time. The Escargot, in particular, were the best that I’d ever had. They served it in a stoneware type of bakeware, and it kept the delicious, garlicky-parsley swirled delights blistering hot, until we of course devoured them all. Then we shared a Hot Goat Cheese Salad (goat cheese is very big in St. Maarten) followed by a perfectly crisped and savory Duck Confit.
A favorite of our family for quite sometime, Antoine’s is located just off the beach on the Dutch side of the island and is a dream for gourmands everywhere. Now under new ownership by an impossibly adorable French couple, many of the original menu offerings are still available. Trust me on ordering the Veal Farfalle, and their Grilled Caribbean Lobster, and plan on a lingering meal, so that you can have one of their dessert Soufflés.  

One of the most unique dining concepts that I’ve experienced lately was this small, out-of-the-way destination. Your food, ranging from seafood to steaks is served to you on the hot stones that they were cooked on. Only mistake we made was to order most items at a medium temperature. Your food continues to cook as it sits at your table, so if you happen to try this fun and inventive spot, be sure to order your items medium rare to rare, so that it doesn’t overcook while you dine.

This modern take on some good old red sauce joint is another delightful find on this tiny island cluttered with restaurants. You get to pick your sauce, pasta shape in Fresh Homemade, Regular Semolina, Organic or Gluten-Free pasta, and add any extra sides desired. Our Gnocchi Bolognese was a melt-in-your-mouth delight and a big standout of the meal was this Salad that featured a Crepe filled with a honey almond goat cheese stuffing. Our Caprese Salad was on point, and when our Fettuccini Alfredo showed up, we groaned with that overloaded delight that you want pretty much every meal to end with. I don’t want to give too much away, but trust me, if you are in St. Maarten on your birthday, this is the place to visit.
COCO BEACH – ORIENT BAYThis beach bar spot is located on some of the softest and whitest sand beaches in all of St. Maarten. Grab a few chairs and hope you get our favorite attendant, John, who will bring you any libation (the Mai Tais are killer) or food offering you’d like. They have these crispy Pizzas that really hit the spot once you decide you’ve overloaded with the saltwater and heat.

I’d hate to pull an Anthony Bourdain and not disclose one of our favorite eating spots that we found while visiting paradise, but this restaurant we found just outside the nudist resort on Orient had just opened one week prior to our visit. A charming yet persuasive Frenchman encouraged us to sit down in this idyllic setting facing the gorgeous blue ocean, and we did. We weren’t sorry we had some of the freshest Mussels with White Wine and Garlic. Not too big, and not too small—if you are going to have mussels, this is the place. Well, maybe not as good as the tiny place my husband and I found in Portofino, Italy…but pretty darn close. 

This spot is probably one of the more cheesy and typical tourist destinations on the island. That being said, it is also something you have to witness at least once. Don’t bring the kids at night because this place gets crazy, like Spring Break crazy. During the day, it’s a much calmer and chilled out vibe. We sampled their Angry Fish Tacos, Cuban Hero, and their Chicken Goat Cheese Wrap (yes, more goat cheese). We paired that with a couple orders of their Crispy Fries and shared a few cold ones while we watched the airplanes fly in and out of the Princess Juliana Airport. It’s a loud, crazy experience that you will be glad you went to at least once.

Get to Baie Rouge by 11:00am and you can secure yourself some prime beachfront space and service. Before leaving on this trip, I learned that St. Maarten is really famous for lolos. Lolos are makeshift, cheaper restaurants that are tucked away somewhere, either in an outdoor marketplace, or in this case, tucked in a corner at Baie Rouge. The smells coming from this lolo were incredible. We were about to order plates and plates of stuff from them until we learned that they only accepted cash, and couldn’t cash our bigger bills. So sadly, I didn’t get to experience the legendary lolo flavors. ~Au Revoir, St. Maarten... Until we meet again.  

The city of Las Vegas is filled with many catering options available to all who visit and/or are looking to host a unique event at their own home. I’ve had the opportunity to eat at some of the swankiest dining hotspots, and see some of the “Top Chefs” spin around the kitchen and create dishes that make this Nerd swoon. One thing I’ve never witnessed is a chef under-the-gun, like those reality shows that are on Food Network hour after hour. I did however get to see Chef Lucky in action and on the clock. She is a powerhouse and determined. She’s cooked for me a couple of times, and her committed dedication to giving the client what they want and when they want it is mind-blowing. When I was given the chance to watch her cook and create her gorgeous fruit and vegetable sculptures, she kept her head down—literally, kept her head down with a look so fierce that Ru Paul would be jealous, and managed to deliver her tasty Thai Fried Rice without a hitch to all who attended the event. If you are looking for a Thai catering experience in Las Vegas that will always deliver, Chef Lucky should be your first call. She calls other Thai hotspots in town (the ones that other food critics have hailed as supposedly ‘best of the city’): “Just for tourists. My food, I know is better.” Cheers to that, and Chef Lucky, rock on! • Follow me at: @vegasfoodnerd
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