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Shoreside Review

The Boat House Restaurant and Bar – I first discovered The Boat House Restaurant & Bar in October when a friend from the BVI Beacon took me there for lunch. The special was a Cajun fish wrap for $9.95, which we both ordered. The plates arrived not only with densely packed, pressed wraps that didn’t fall apart in our hands but also with a sampling of salads which I later learned are called The Boat House Sides. The service was impeccable, and the sandwiches were delicious, but the sides were the reason that we returned for lunch the next week. And the next.

 

Imagine a plate as the face of a clock. At twelve o’clock: garden salad that consists of mixed greens, bell peppers, blueberries, balsamic-vinaigrette-soaked cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and almonds. Between two and three o’clock: a perfectly fried slice of plantain. Four o’clock is home to a few spoonfuls of marinated eggplant. A fruit salad of shaved honeydew, cantaloupe, mango and a sweet dill dressing sits at six o’clock. Eight is a few sautéed garden vegetables—carrots, a Brussels sprout or two, squash, and broccoli. At ten, several bites of beet salad. In the center, your entrée.

The lunch menu is vast with options for meat lovers, vegetarians, and seafood lovers. Regulars arrive at noon for chef Vaughan Grant’s homemade soup. It changes daily and can be anything from lobster chowder to creamy pumpkin to turkey vegetable. The appetizers, ranging from lobster cakes to a stuffed Portobello mushroom are perfectly starter-sized: not too big that they fill you up, but not too small that they make you wish you’d ordered more.

In addition to the pressed wraps (veggie, chicken, or spicy pork) are the pressed sandwiches, all served on rosemary olive bread, with choices for herbivores and carnivores. Then there are the lunch entrées, which the regulars also love—perfectly cooked salmon, duck, or country-fried steak, all under $13. Did I mention The Boat House Sides? Because every lunch (except for the soup) comes with them. If you insist on a less healthy, more lunchy side, try the fries. They’re actually more like homemade crisps seasoned with Cajun spices.

 

And I haven’t even mentioned the pizza menu. You can choose from one of their recommended pizzas (All Aboard Meat, Treehugger’s, Salmon Alfredo, Pesto Chicken) or build your own. The base price for build your own is $9 with toppings ranging from $1 to $2 each. The pizza sauce is New York-caliber, and the mozzarella is freshly grated onto each pizza, not previously shredded and frozen.

Pizzas are also available for dinner as are most of the appetizers, but the rest of the menu is not. The chef dictates the dinner menu each night based on what is fresh and available or based on what he is in the mood to cook. Typically, there are four to six entrée choices: steak, a lamb or veal dish, poultry, and two seafood dishes. The chef will also prepare a vegetarian dish if requested.

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Past dinner menus have included beef tenderloin topped with chicken liver paté, mushrooms, and onions; coconut-crusted tuna; ginger-glazed rack of lamb; stuffed Caribbean lobster tail; and Thai curry shrimp. Each entrée comes with fresh garden vegetables and a side starch (try the pineapple risotto if it’s on the menu). The prices range from $26-$30 for each dinner, and you will not leave hungry.

 

If you do somehow manage to save room, homemade desserts change every few days. The cherry key lime pie and pineapple walnut cheesecake are delicious, but my favorite is the sinful chocolate a cross between a cake and a brownie layered with puréed peanuts and topped with ice cream. Save room. The Boat House also offers a selection of ice creams and sherbets. All desserts are $6.95.

The bar boasts an impressive, smartly selected wine list, with many wines available by the glass. Speaking of the bar, happy hour runs from 3:30-6:30 daily. During happy hour, beers are $2 each, and mixed drinks are $4.50. If there’s enough of a bar crowd, owner Jenny Gulland usually orders some complimentary appetizers from the kitchen.

In May, Jenny started a restaurant that quickly gained a reputation among locals as the best lunch on the island and is now becoming a favorite dinner spot. It’s not the food alone that keeps Tortola’s population coming back for more. The staff is friendly and helpful, happy to make recommendations. And then there’s the view from the breezy deck: a mangrove island and small marina surrounded by neighbouring hills.¬ Reservations are recommended for lunch or dinner, as this local favourite continues to increase in popularity. Telephone: (284) 495-0007. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Manuel Reef Marina, Sea Cow’s Bay. 

 

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