Paul's High 5 Awards

Your questions and comment on restaurants and dining out
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Paul Tallet
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Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Paul Tallet » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:21 am

I thought I would give ‘Hi 5’s to rate the Restaurants so 1 x 5 is poor but 55555 is excellent.

The places I visited are as follows and in no particular order …


La Cantina 555

Where? Crown Point
What? Mostly Pizza
Price? TT$100 + per Main Dish
Location/Setting Poor
Service Excellent
Visits 1
Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Lunch

I took 2 high 5’s off because the location of this venue is right next to a drive-in Cash Machine and if you are eating outside you will be able to blend all the petrol fumes into your culinary experience and this can be as little as an irritant when one car is there or there could be a sudden outbreak of carbon monoxide poisoning if queues of Cars are waiting for the Cash Machine … I would prefer not to slip into unconsciousness while eating one of their mighty fine pizzas.

There is an indoor area to eat.

Most options were pizzas and you could ask for almost any topping. We chose this based on it’s high ratings on our return trip to the airport but struggled to work out why you would go for a pizza as there are plenty of options back home. La Cantina solved this problem easily.

The pizzas were exceptionally delicious … brilliant. On thin Bases, they way they should be.

A good range of drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Excellent in all aspects except the unfortunate location.

We will be back … with our gas masks.



Suck Hole 55555

Where? Charlotteville
What? Fish, Shrimps
Price? TT$80 + per Main Dish
Location/Setting View of Man ‘o War Bay and a nice Tree
Service Excellent
Visits 1
Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Lunch

Last year’s discovery. The dishes are unique, prepared to order so there can be a wait and it is important to get there when they open at about 12 midday if you don’t want to spend the whole afternoon there. This venue is worth the trip alone.

The Food overkill has been modified so instead of lasting 3 days you could take some left overs home for dinner. Kingfish and Shrimps were our options. You got no less than 4 fillets of Kingfish, beautiful funky sauces and side dishes of vegetables and potato wedges.

The Suck Hole clearly has a pioneering chef and seems set for it’s own institution like Gemma’s Treehouse and will become one of the eateries that you have to try as part of your Tobago experience.

A wide range of drinks are available and cocktails are made to order.

Highly recommended.


Side Story …

A large Group of Trinidadians turned up and asked if they could eat here. Yes, of course. So they ordered drinks and started to open all their picnic baskets. What a laugh … but they were eventually made to leave the premises.



Cuffie Nature Retreat 55555

Where? Cuffie River Nature Retreat
What? Anything (ask in advance)
Price? TT$1,440 for 3 including a Rainforest Walk (Less without the Rainforest walk)
Location/Setting Exotic, peaceful
Service Excellent
Visits 1

This is a Guest House that offers rooms ideal for bird watchers that wish to take nature trails.

But that does not need to exclude others who are advised to make a reservation to give the charming Regina the time to prepare Lunch to your specifications.

There are many different settings in the property where you can enjoy your Lunch and you are sure to have several species of Humming Bird and Woodpeckers nearby.

Lunch is 3 course and served on platters so you can put what you like on your plate. The Lentil Soup was amazing and the main course for us was Fillets of (the best) Barracuda (I have tasted) and Shrimps served up on a Platter brimming with funky sauces, herbs and vegetables. Rice was also served as a side Dish.

After this outrageous assault on our tasting senses we were asked if we would like to try the homemade Mango and Passion Fruit Ice Cream.

Throughout our Lunch we were served Regina’s homemade Rum Punch from a Carafe which is quite unusual but none the worse.

This Lunch was stunning and I don’t want to lower the tone but the lovely tastes kept repeating on us throughout the course of the following afternoon and the following morning.

Thank you Regina … it was brilliant for us and we would like to pay you another visit next year.



Fish Pot 5555

Where? Between Mount Irvine and Grafton Resorts
What? Catch of the Day
Price? TT$80 + per Main Dish
Location/Setting Not much of a view
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Lunch and Dinner
Visits 4

We keep coming here year after year and the reason is simple … the Fish Pot is very consistent in providing a good service and excellent food. I have awarded 4 high 5’s only because of the retard that sticks his arms through the sides asking for money and cigarettes … otherwise it would be 5.

Of the 4 visits, the first was the best with grilled Barracuda that was the best I have ever tasted until, of course, we visited the Cuffie Nature Retreats later in the holiday.

The starters are nice too and I can tell the pate is home made.

There is also a good selection of wines.



Duck 5555

Where? Castara, near the Bread Oven
What? Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Fish
Price? TT$50 + Main Dish
Location/Setting Take Away
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Lunch
Visits Several

I have known Duck for years and he is a very likeable dude and I hope he has not fallen out with me over a disastrous Boat Trip (which is a long story).

Duck is now doing what I think he does best … cooking. He makes very nice meals that he sells from his store and this is very relevant on some days when all the other eating venues in Castara are closed, not that I am suggesting they are any better.

Highly recommended but don’t let him talk you into taking a Boat Trip with him.



House of Pancakes 5555

Where? The junction of Pigeon Point Road
What? Breakfast
Price? TT$100 +
Location/Setting Nice setting but no views
Service Excellent (Overkill)
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Seem to specialise in Pancakes
Visits 1

Based on other positive reviews I have been trying this place for several years and it has always been closed … but this year I guess I got lucky.

We often moan about the surly attitude when being served in Tobago but not here … the service and attention we received was so intense I was worried that the staff would be following me to my car begging me to stay.

I shouldn’t complain though … they were genuinely doing their best.

I didn’t try any pancakes but Breakfast was good and with a choice of eggs (i.e.; fried, scrambled etc) to have with your bacon.

The Coffee was good too … so if it is good service you need then this is the place.



Bird Watchers 5555

Where? Speyside (near Gemma’s)
What? Variety (Including Lobster)
Price? TT$60 + per Main Dish (Lobster about TT$200)
Location/Setting Not much of a view
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Definitely Lunch and Dinner … not sure about Breakfast
Visits 4

Nice spacious Restaurant that I have been meaning to visit for years.

The food was excellent … perhaps I should try the lobster next time. There was a couple on the adjacent table eating lobster and absolutely salivating over it.

Our experience at this restaurant was overshadowed by a hilarious experience on this day when we hit the road again and travelled through Roxborough.

Roxborough, at the best of times, looks like one of those towns in the spaghetti westerns and you have this sense that a gunfight could break out in the deserted street.

For some inexplicable reason, as we drove through, there was this gentleman completely stark naked walking on his own down the street shouting at … something … and it seemed that everyone had fled to their homes.

I wonder if anyone can shed some light on this phenomenon … does this happen regularly?



Vaness 55555

Where? Bloody Bay
What? Variety (Including Lobster)
Price? TT$60 + per Main Dish (Lobster was TT$200)
Location/Setting Overlooking the Rainforest Canopy. Birdwatcher’s Paradise
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Lunch and Dinner
Visits 1

There is a strange story about this Restaurant which I am sure I have raised before and Steve Wooler may want to update his Restaurant listings because I don’t see Vaness.

According to legend, Vaness used to own the Sunshine Restaurant and she sold it to her daughter and then built ‘Vaness’ next door … imagine that?

There is an ambience about Vaness … apart from the occasional car it is quiet and you can only hear the soft sounds of nature and a few tweety birds.

Anyway, Vaness gets 5 High 5’s because Sue, my carer and a well travelled pathological lobster consumer, decided that it was the best lobster she had eaten anywhere in the world ever.

So there you are, seems like Vaness does a pretty funky lobster … go try it.

When you get to the T-Junction at Bloody Bay, go left towards Bloody Bay and before you get into 2nd gear Vaness is on your left.



Marguerites 5555

Where? Castara
What? Goat, Chicken, Fish, Pizza (by order)
Price? TT$80 + per Main Dish
Location/Setting By the River
Service OK
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner - Dinner … not seen her open for Lunch
Visits 1

The first word that comes to mind about this Restaurant is ‘reliable’. The quality of the food has been consistently good and the restaurant is open every evening (maybe not Sunday).

This goes back about 17 years to my knowledge.

The food is mostly Creole and it is cooked well … the only issue I have with this (and other creole restaurants) is that there is often more bone on your plate than meat … they must think we like bones!

Anyway, I don’t think I have seen Marguerite there for 2 or 3 years and I now suspect that her husband is the one who has been doing the cooking all along … could I have innocently discovered the best kept secret in Castara?!?



Shirma’s 55555

Where? Castara
What? BBQ (Friday) Soup (Saturday)
Price? TT$25 +
Location/Setting Castara Main Road
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Definitely not Breakfast
Visits 2

The only thing I find annoying about Shirma is that she does a BBQ on Friday nights and a Soup on Saturday Lunchtimes … and that’s it … my problem is that, once in full holiday mode, I forget what day it is.

Shirma is an amazing cook and I am sure she sources all her ingredients from men with spears.

Saturday Soup Day is the best … there is a choice of 3 Soups and they are, literally what it says on the proverbial tin:-

Vegetable Soup … delicious … vegetables of course.

Pig Tail Soup … again delicious but maybe not for the faint hearted because you do actually benefit from having a pig’s tail in your soup, plus a bit of pig’s bum … yum yum.

Cow Heel Soup … this is the best and … erm … you guessed it, there is a hoof in the soup for you to nibble on (entirely optional of course).

I strongly recommend that readers take up the Saturday Shirma Soup Challenge.

The Friday night BBQ’s are also delicious and very good value for money.

5 high 5’s.




Chinos 5555

Where? Castara
What? Breakfast and Occasional Dinners
Price? It changes every day!
Location/Setting Great for people watching in Castara
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Breakfast mostly
Visits 3 (Breakfast) 1 (Dinner)

Chinos has taken the Breakfast market in Castara. There is no competitor apart from some venues like the Naturalist Beach Resort that do breakfasts for their guests.

Nice Coffee and Breakfast is scrambled egg and bacon with fruit and a choice of toast or coconut bake.

Dinner is normally served on a Saturday night and I attended one of these. The food was Creole and very tasty (I think we had Kingfish) but I wasn’t expecting the Steel Drum DJ to turn up.

Now this is me, I like to have a conversation over dinner with anyone that is happy to talk to me. The DJ was actually really good but I could not hear myself speak so as soon as I and the people that were happy to speak to me finished our meals we went back to our view and sound of the sea and said nothing to each other for the rest of the evening … because the sound of the sea is so amazing!



Magdalena Resort 55

Where? Lambeau-ish !
What? Anything as long as it is on their Menu
Price? Could have been cheaper
Location/Setting Windswept, Atlantic side
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Everything plus afternoon tea
Visits 1


Sue, my carer, went for a bit of self indulgence at this Resort to have her hair, nails and other bits done and so me and Paul (Junior) went off to find some places to go and people to upset, however, we agreed to meet back at the resort for a late lunch.

This is an impressive looking hotel and we walked what seemed like a mile to a restaurant/snack bar right by the beach.

I don’t trust Hotels with Fish (I don’t want the catch of yesterday) so I had the Burger and it was not that bad and definitely steak.

Drinks were difficult … because you could only have what was on the Menu so just asking for a Rum Punch would be foreign language to the staff but the frustrating thing about this is that there is a Rum Punch in the menu somewhere, if you can only find the name … could it be the ‘Magdalena Mega-Bomb’? Who knows?!? … Ok, Rum and Coke then.

Average … it’s sad that most of the larger institutions are like this.



Mount Irvine Beach Facility 555

Where? Mount Irvine
What? Mostly Burgers / Chicken / Salads
Price? TT$60 +
Location/Setting Superb
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Lunch
Visits 4 (ate there once)

The 3 high 5’s are for the food only.

Otherwise, what I call the quiet end of Mount Irvine Beach, it deserves 5 for the Hotel Facilities and that you feel welcome even if you are not staying at the Hotel.

This year, all the sunbeds, tables and parasols have been replaced with brand new furniture and there are excellent toilet/shower facilities and security … I have often used the facilities here on the last day of the holiday as my last stop before boarding the plane.

So, yes, the food is not that great and I often drive 2 minutes up the road to the Fish Pot for Lunch.

The Rum Punch is pretty good and if you drink too much of it you will get lumps behind your ears … so there is a high 5 for drinks and refreshments.



Waves 5

Where? Grafton Beach
What? You name it
Price? TT$60 +
Location/Setting Superb … on the beach
Service Odd
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Lunch and Dinner
Visits 1

I need to be a little careful here because there is a person that now works here that hospitalised me a few years ago at another place (that I shall not name) with perhaps ‘the catch of last week’.

Sadly, I find it irresistible to come here because the setting is so nice … so, ok I will have a burger and no fish.

The food was Ok, average, but what really got us going was this waitress that kept taking things off the table and objections had to be raised when she tried to take my plate before I had finished it.

The place was almost empty so what was the rush?

We did not feel welcome.

A very big cocktail menu.



Patinos 5555

Where? Buccoo Area
What? Burgers mostly
Price? TT$80 +
Location/Setting Nice enclosed area with swimming pool
Service Excellent
Breakfast Lunch or Dinner A kind of Hotel so Meals all day
Visits 1

Funny old place this.

Exceptionally good service and a nice setting within the Property grounds with a rather inviting swimming pool.

We called in for lunch purely because we saw it when we were hungry and had never been before.

It was OK … basic but nice food and the service was very good. I would happily go back.

Of the 4 high 5’s awarded, one high 5 goes to the lady (who I think owns the place). Paul (Junior) had a badly sun-burnt nose and this lady kept singing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ to him.

A day to remember … well done Patino’s … and service with a smile.

Regards
Paul Tallet
Public Relations Consultant for Mother Nature

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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Gill O » Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:14 am

Brilliant reviews. I always enjoy reading about your thoughts on Tobago :D

Every year we say we must go to Cuffie River for lunch, but somehow never get there. Is the rainforest walk worth doing, bearing in mind we always go out with Newton George for at least one trip during our stay ?

Glad to hear Duck's cooking enterprise is still going strong. He was having some territory disputes when we were last in Castara !

Looking forward to returning in March

Gill

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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Steve Wooler » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:04 pm

Brilliant, Paul - thanks so much for the effort you've put into preparing that.

Please be sure to share your ratings in our main RSR polls. Less than 10% of site visitors delve into the forum, so we are reliant on regulars casting votes and influencing the simple RSR icon ratings that regular readers see on the main site. You can vote for any individual item by clicking on its RSR icon - or do a 'batch' voting by visiting the various polls listed at http://www.mytobago.info/surveys/.

Thanks for the heads-up on Vaness in Bloody Bay. Yes, I'd heard the story but didn't even have a name for the place so by the time I got back, I'd forgotten about it. I've now added it to our listings - so be sure to be the first to vote for it. :D I don't suppose you happen to have a photo of the restaurant do you?

Just a comment re Marguarite's in Castara. Maggie has been working hard to qualify as a minister in recent years. She qualified last year and I believe that all her time is devoted to her church. Her husband, Sherwin (half-brother to Brian 'Alibaba' Taylor, Dexter of Cascreole/Angel Apartments and Bruce Taylor car rentals) has been running the restaurant for about 2 years. He's brilliant and such a lovely guy.

Gill - you MUST try lunch at Cuffie River. Regina produces the BEST Caribbean cuisine bar none. Her guide, Desmond, is a pleasant guy and quite knowledgeable, but Newton is in a different league. You don't have to do a walk with Desmond - you can go there just for lunch (or take Newton).
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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Gill O » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:27 pm

Ok Steve.

We'll add it to our "must do" for this year,

Counting down the days !

Gill

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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Paul Tallet » Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:24 am

Thank you everyone.

It's no trouble ... you just eat and type before you forget it.

Steve ... I should have taken a snap of Vaness. But instead I got a cracking snap of some mighty fine Chakalakas out the back in the 'vertigo' room which are absolutely no use to you.

I feel sure that I have done the ratings but I will check for Vaness.

Gill, you must go to Cuffie. I was ready for Regina's nice lunch after a 3 hour trek. The Walk is optional and you can just turn up for Lunch.

Regina likes a few days notice and she can discuss your requirements.

I am not a big fan of Rainforest Walks, preferring to watch from the road. As you know, you can be disappointed or get rewarded ... the highlights of our walk were a humming bird drinking from the river, lots of colourful locusts and a magnificent Rufus Tailed Jacamar catching his flies right under our noses ... that's good enough for me.

I agree that Newton would be the best. I did a tour with him a few years ago and he wouldn't miss a tick on a cow's bum miles away. Had a good laugh with the 'others' ... you know, the people that like birds. These 2 gentlemen came on the trip and they had these checklists with pictures of all the birds in Tobago and there was a fair bit of competition going on between them ... but there was one very special bird missing from their lists and I said to them that they were missing the most important bird and they had to add it to their list ... well what bird is it? they asked and this went on a while until I pointed out a chicken on the roadside near Bloody Bay :mrgreen: .

Duck ... well for once he seems established but he is easily distracted by doing beach BBQ's or boat trips and he hasn't got a boat and I don't like him hiring fishermen who can't swim. So, for health and safety reasons it's wise to go with the established professionals such as Brian (Ali-Ba-Ba).

Trust me ... enjoy Duck's cooking but please DO NOT take a boat trip with him.

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Paul Tallet
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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Gill O » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:10 am

We'll definitely be going to Cuffie River this time.

I always enjoy walking through the rainforest, and we're taking some friends this year who have never been to Tobago. I always seem to see something of interest every time we go walking. One year we found our own manakins lekking, and managed to get a super video, including the female coming down too, which I'd never seen before. It somehow seemed more special because we were exploring on our own, and we didn't have a guide pointing them out to us. (Love the chicken story :D )


Gill

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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Steve Wooler » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:46 pm

We are wandering off-topic, but I must endorse Paul's comments. Do NOT even think of going on excursions, fishing, snorkelling, diving tours with anyone other than the established and reputable firms listed on this site and elsewhere. You wouldn’t believe how many ‘incidents’ I know of where loss of life has only been narrowly averted and where the incident was entirely due to the incompetence, negligence and downright stupidity of the boatman concerned.

I shouldn’t really lighten the mood when discussing such a serious topic. However, my thoughts immediately went back to the story of two American fishermen found off the coast of Venezuela some years back. They had gone fishing off the Atlantic coast with a well-known local fisherman. A slight sea-mist developed and they lost sight of land. The local ‘captain’, well-known for his ‘pirate’ appearance and persona, was too vane to put his spectacles on in front of the visitors. Had he done so, he might have been able to get his bearings and return to land before running out of fuel. With no GPS or other aids, they were at the mercy of the currents and were lost at sea for three days. I could write a book of similar stories. I do my best to get full information on every tourist-related “incident” that I hear about on Tobago. At a rough guess, I would estimate that 80% of these incidents have a back-story and would not have occurred if the visitor had applied the same common sense precautions that they would have taken for granted had they been back in their home country. The choice of boat and/or dive operator is a recurring factor.
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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Kurt.Halfyard » Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:55 pm

I've seen the guy you are talking about in Roxborough, Paul. He usually hangs out by the gas station and tries to pump your gas for you while occasionally talking to thin air. It's a bit (but not too much, this is Tobago after all) intimidating at first, but he's friendly enough and wanders off after a few moments. This has happened to me, same guy, in Dec. 2014 and most recently last week.

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Re: Paul's High 5 Awards

Post by Paul Tallet » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:43 am

Hello Kurt

He tried to pump your gas for you ... in his birthday suit? :shock:

Oh my jolly goodness, what an incredibly naughty man :mrgreen:

Sorry ... couldn't resist :oops:

Anyway, the weather has been disappointing today with ... ... ... :lol:

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Paul Tallet
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