Restaurant Review: Rainforest Hideaway in St Lucia
Nestled away in a leafy mangrove forest in Marigot Bay, lies the Rainforest Hideaway. The restaurant offers a unique experience, not only because of its celebration of St Lucian produce but because it’s on its own island – literally!
The restaurant is based on a purpose-built crop of land, across from the main island; in order to get there, diners are required to hop on a 2 minute shuttle ferry.
From the moment you step off the boat, you’re made to feel as if you’ve set foot on a miniature, tropical island, as you find yourself in the midst of tall, winding trees with lush, green foliage.
On the jetty, guests can relax in an inviting bar/lounge and enjoy a cocktail, taking in views of the yachts moored in the bay, as well as admiring the shoals of fish lured to the area by submerged lighting.
The cocktail list is regularly updated to feature fresh, local fruits that are in season – I opted for a mango mohito, which was as divine as it sounds. My Mother chose the peach mohito, which was equally as enticing!
The restaurant is run by British ex-pat John Verity, who has lived on the island for quite some time. He’s joined by a warm team of knowledgeable waiting staff, who know the food and drink menu inside–out.
The food menu is inspired by traditional Caribbean flavours but applies them differently. There’s no sign of jerk chicken, nor plantain, but what you will find are delicacies like banana chutney and coconut-crusted lion fish, which are a refreshing change from other local menus. The restaurant prides itself on sourcing fine quality St Lucian products, from pork to mushrooms. Rainforest Hideaway grow their own herbs and opt for organic produce where possible.
To start, we had Scallops with Crabcake and Banana Chutney and the Spiced Pumpkin Soup. The scallops and crab were cooked to perfection, and the banana chutney was like nothing I’ve tried before – flavoursome and sweet, the ultimate accompaniment for the shellfish. The soup was creamy and packed huge flavour – it was served with a side of toasted coconut shavings, which added a delightful, sweet crunch.
For the main course we tried the Steamed Red Snapper and Coconut Crusted Lionfish, two out of three fish choices on the menu, each served with a choice of sauce and two sides.Our waiter suggested we try the fruit salsa with the steamed snapper, which was the perfect combination. The fish was incredibly tender and flaked beautifully – we couldn’t get enough!
In line with their ethos of supporting the local environment, Rainforest Hideaway introduced lionfish to their menu. It’s one of the few places, if not the only restaurant in St Lucia, which serves this particular fish, as it’s time consuming to both catch and prepare. Accidentally introduced to the island a few years ago, it has now become a pest, upsetting the whole food chain. Having lionfish on their menu is just one way John gives back to the island. The fish isn’t as flaky as other locally-caught fish, and, served alone, could be a little dry, however, when paired with the creamy ginger sauce, it proved to be a winner.
(I should point out, there were several meat options on the menu if fish isn’t your thing!)
For sides we opted for the vegetable roti, organic sautéed mushrooms, sweet potato salad and St Lucian Pilaf Rice. I was slightly disappointed with the roti, as I felt it lacked in flavour, which was a huge contrast to the other items we ordered. I have absolutely no complaints on the other accompaniments, which were seasoned to perfection.
To finish off our meal we tried the Rum Sautéed Bananas with homemade Banana Cake topped with Rum and Raisin ice cream. The banana cake was moist and sweet and, unsurprisingly, the St Lucian rum was out of this world. The dish completed the delightful experience of sampling the true flavours of Saint Lucia!
The interior of Rainforest Hideaway isn’t particularly fancy, but like many other Caribbean interiors, it has a very homely feel. The restaurant area feels almost pier like. On the night we visited, they had two local musicians playing easy listening jazz. This added to the relaxed atmosphere, which is very much in keeping with the laid-back feel of the island.
If you’re visiting St Lucia on a sailing/yachting holiday, Rainforest Hideaway is perfect as it’s based in Marigot Bay, which many argue is one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful bays. Whilst we were dining, several boats docked in, and, from both the bar and restaurant, you’re always in sight of the Caribbean Sea with its colourful fish. It really is a restaurant with an attached aquarium!
In a nutshell:
Rainforest Hideaway is not fine dining, but it’s not trying to be. John and his team aren’t trying to compete with London and NYC restaurants, but, instead, celebrate the island and offer tasty Caribbean flavours served in an unbeatable location. There is an overwhelming feel that this restaurant is giving back to Saint Lucia, championing its best produce. If you want to eat locally-sourced food in a gorgeous bay, look no further than the Rainforest Hideaway.
Address: Rainforest Hideaway, Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, W.I.
Contact: +1 758 451 4485 or email@example.com
125 ECD for 2 course menu
150 ECD for 3 course menu