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The Nassau Report: Don’t Piss Off a Chef, Do Go To Luciano’s

July 20th, 2011

rum baba at Luciano's - Nassau, Bahamas

What follows will be quite a long entry, but I’m rewarding you with some extra photos at the end!

One of the things you must do in any business is know your competition – what they do, what their strengths and weaknesses are; the advantages and challenges they face. My host, Chef R and his wife T, had been working their way around the restaurants in Nassau in advance of their restaurant opening, to get acquainted with some of the other chefs in town and to learn about what everyone else offers.

On my third day in the Bahamas we decided to go to Montagu Gardens Steak and Grill, a restaurant rated #8 in Nassau on Tripadvisor. We would usually scope out the menu first, but there was no website to be found and so, we were going in blind. But one of the perks consistently mentioned in the reviews was that the restaurant provides a complimentary shuttle to and from your hotel, so we called in a reservation and arranged to meet the shuttle at a nearby resort.

We arrived at the meeting location a few minutes early, so we waited, and talked about the menus we’d perused of other restaurants on the island. A couple minutes went by, and a couple more, until the shuttle was eight minutes overdue. At this point, Chef R was annoyed. The restaurant hadn’t called to notify us of any delay, and a customer shouldn’t be kept waiting without any notice or acknowledgment. That was it for Montagu. Could the food be good? Well, the customer reviews say so. But I’ll never know, and Chef R will never recommend to anyone a place that doesn’t deliver what they promise (would you?). It was on to the next place for us.

Black Angus Grille in the Wyndham was nearby and also rated highly, so we headed into Crystal Palace (the casino in the resort). Chef R was tempted by the slots, and managed to sneak a quick game in before T dragged him away. Unfortunately for us, it was a Monday, and Black Angus appeared to be closed. The restaurant next door, Moso, was Asian fusion, and I was in the mood for something that sounded at least a little more authentic. We had a drink at Moso, then caught a cab to the downtown core.

Another of the restaurants on our list was the expat haven, Van Breugel’s, but sadly, they also appeared to be closed for the day (we ended up going another day, and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. If you like a young, professional, worldly crowd, I highly recommend you drop in!). Chef R, racking his brain for ideas, remembered that he’d been to a restaurant on a Monday before. Correction: he’d been to Luciano’s on a Monday before. We stumbled upon the same cab that just dropped us off, and he kindly took us to the restaurant for free – on the condition that we’d call him to drive us back home. In the three weeks he’d been in Nassau, it was Chef’s third time at Luciano’s, and the staff recognized him right away.

T mentioned that the drinks were very good, and I ordered a Manhattan while Chef R went into the bar and chatted up the sous chef for a good half hour. Our waiter was affable, animated and very professional, and were it not for the view of Atlantis from the patio and the Bahamian-tongued staff, I would have felt this establishment to be just like any proper casual fine dining experience in the rest of North America. I must apologise, for I was far too hungry to reach for my camera instead of my fork, but I can assure you that my veal saltimbocca was tender, properly seasoned (well, perhaps a smidgen too much salt), and balanced with expertly done rapini, carrots, and potatoes.

Upon completion of our main course, we were summoned to the bar by Chef R, who had returned there and made himself quite comfortable, and were treated to some chocolate arancini. We also ordered the chocolate rum raisin bread pudding and the rum baba (it’s the Bahamas and you must have rum!), which were both quite sizeable, and despite their deliciousness and our best efforts, we were unable to clean our plates.

Rum Baba

I don’t judge a restaurant by just one thing or another, but by the satisfaction I get from the overall experience. With good food, excellent service, a wonderfully romantic patio and a gentle breeze coming off the water, I was certainly happy at Luciano’s. The soft, old-school jazz and proper, fenced driveway up to the entrance? Well, that’s gravy. Delectable, mood-setting gravy.

Oh, hi there!

And now – some extra photos as promised! See the lights across the water from me in the above photo? That’s Atlantis on Paradise Island. They had some marvelous blown glass pieces (by artist Dale Chihuly), as you can see below.

Inside the casino area

Until next time!

Previously in Nassau Report:
The Colours of Nassau

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One Response

  1. Damn, Ive been in search of information like this for some time now. Thanks!

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