Discover fine French food served against a Caribbean backdrop
St. Martin is as much about food as sun and sand. In fact, the town Grand Case holds the undisputed title of “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” We’ve done the difficult work of sampling French delicacy after French delicacy to narrow down the best places to treat your taste buds right. Surprisingly, not all of them are in Grand Case. Bon appetit!
Competition is fierce on Grand Case’s restaurant row, where eateries seemingly crop up then disappear overnight. L’Auberge Gourmande’s longevity in the heart of the Caribbean’s culinary capital is a testament to how incredible the food is here. The restaurant’s atmosphere and decor take you back to historic France. Cheery yellows dominate the dining room, accented by charming white stone arches.
L’Auberge’s classic French menu is extensive and mouthwatering. Service is on par with the quality of the cuisine. The wait staff is attentive yet non-intrusive, and highly skilled at ensuring your evening at L’Auberge Gourmande is everything you would expect. Be sure to make reservations well in advance.
Favorite bites: Be a little adventurous; this is no place to shy away from French delicacies. The foie gras, frog legs, and escargot are simultaneously delicate and full of flavor. If you somehow manage to save room for dessert, there are several choices bridging a wide range of flavors, but the trio of white chocolate mousse, hot baked fondant, and iced dark chocolate drizzled with hibiscus coulis sauce is unimaginably exquisite.
You haven’t lived until you’ve started your day off with the truly French breakfast of a warm, flaky, buttery croissant. On St. Martin, you’ll find the best of the best at La Croissanterie, located on the waterfront in Marigot.
This unpretentious little establishment is tucked into a corner at the Marina Port La Royale. The lovely marina view merely improves on a dining experience that’s already close to perfect. Your only problem will be selecting from the many tempting and delicious offerings.
Favorite bites: A croissant is the obvious choice. Step it up a notch and order the pan au chocolat, with the delightful treat of warm, sweet chocolate hidden inside. Prefer something savory? Try the seafood crepes, with shrimp, scallops, and fresh cream. Pair your meal with one of La Croissanterie’s rich, dark espressos.
Another major contender on Grand Case’s competitive restaurant row is L’Estaminet. Situated in a quaint Creole cottage on the southern end of the strip, the food here is French, modern, and inventive. Presentations are masterfully constructed, so artful in fact that you hesitate to take a bite in fear of ruining the sculpture on your plate. And then your taste buds win the battle, and you’re oh so happy they did.
The food is as flavorful as it is beautiful. Chef Ina’s culinary skill is evident in her pairings of flavors. Stick around for the after-dinner shot that is a hallmark of the Grand Case dining scene. L’Estaminet’s tiramisu shot with Bailey’s, Kahlua, and cocoa-dusted cream is the hands-down winner of restaurant row.
Favorite bites: The asparagus soup, a customer favorite, melds perfectly with its bacon crème brulee and goat cheese ice cream accents. No matter how full you are by the end of your meal, you must top the night off with L’Estaminet’s chocolate cigar dessert. A unique combination of chocolate variations meant to resemble a cigar and its ashtray; this confection is equal parts luscious and fun.
Le Ti Bouchon
This cul-de-sac restaurant brings French traditions to the Caribbean. It is modeled after the bouchons in Lyon, where settings are small and intimate, the plates are generous and flavorful, and the atmosphere is festive. The only indication you aren’t actually in France is the restaurant’s colorful Creole cottage setting.
Owner Momo is always on hand, and by the end of the night; his charming nature and colorful storytelling skills will have you wanting to come back for more. The quality of the food is as respectable as the atmosphere is fun. Momo can help explore menu choices, though his lyrical, detailed descriptions of each dish might make it harder to choose, and you’ll want to taste them all.
Favorite bites: If you want to go French, the confit de canard is incredibly tender. Experience Momo’s creativity with his take on the traditional shepherd’s pie, which features lobster and sweet potatoes.
A tank full of lobsters entices you to come inside. Amazing ocean views captivate as you anticipate one of the best meals on the island. A relative newcomer on the scene, Ocean 82 is among the more modern restaurants in the heart of Grand Case.
Portion sizes are reasonable, allowing you to save room for dessert. The house-made banana vanilla-spiced rum is the perfect way to end your meal. For a truly romantic evening, reserve a seat along the rail in time for sunset.
Favorite bites: Enjoy some of the most tender meat you’ll ever eat in your life with the beef cheeks and veal stew with porcini mushroom risotto. Lobster is an obvious choice. Choose yours from the tank at the restaurant’s entrance and decide whether you’d like it grilled or served thermidor style.