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Shoreside Review

The Dove & Bar Fly  –  Don’t imagine the British Virgin Islands to consist of only flip flops and pirate impressions as you would be selling yourself short, and why would anyone want to do that? In fact, life in the BVI is not like that at all, and in a community of professional residents as well as expats from all over the world, there is a draw, a need and a place for those wanting the finer fare, the better wines and the dirty martinis while wearing high-heeled shoes and shirts buttoned all the way up. If you have ever walked into a venue and know that you are at the type of place where you deserve to be treated, then you are talking about the delicate precision that makes up the Dove.

The Dove is more than an original wine bar; it is the slick brainchild of husband and wife team Scott Hart and Paloma Helm. Professionalism in restaurants is always proven, respected and shines without neon or romantic marketing—you either have it or you don’t. The Dove has had it right from the start. “The concept of a fine dining wine bar in Road Town was laughed at,” explains Scott “People thought there would be no market for us. When others saw town as a dust bowl (back then none of the waterfront parking lots were paved) with no tourists to cater to, we saw a growing professional sector emerging with limited dining options. We decided to take a different course and went after residents rather than tourists.”  

 

Photos by Dan O'Connor

With the idea in hand, the young couple then began their difficult search for a space. “I insisted that we find a place with character,” states Paloma, “with both my parents being architects here on Tortola, I really wanted a space with history and personality.”  They found an old West Indian cottage on Main Street, the former home of Sir Olva Georges, the only BVIslander to be knighted by the Queen, and began an extensive seven-month refurbishing of the property. “We found the perfect space, only it was about to fall down,” laughs Paloma. “Scott and I worked so hard to rebuild this beautiful old house. If I had known how much work it was going to be, I probably wouldn’t have dared tried.”  Scott adds, “We are lucky to have such great friends and family. Everyone pitched in to help. It was a big project—protecting the original architecture and converting that space for restaurant use. We couldn’t have ever finished without all the additional help.”

The Dove opened to a full house in January 2004. With attention to detail and a focus on food, wine and service, they stayed at the top of their game. “We had a great response right from the get go. What surprised us was how busy our bar was,” explains Scott. “We expanded the patio under the mango tree twice, and each time we expanded we got busier.”  Two years ago, Scott and Paloma decided to tackle construction again and built a cocktail lounge offering “small eats” called Bar Fly on the waterfront side of the property. “We wanted to build a space with a more casual ambience, with fast, simple food and inventive cocktails.  We built the new space up a level so that we could take advantage of the ocean view and breeze,” explains Scott. “Bar Fly has been very successful for us. It provides a good balance to the Dove.”

With the season upon us, the Dove has no doubts about being one of the busiest restaurants in town. The difference is they are going to capitalize on what they already know, improve and push it cleaner, harder, and keep it as sharp as some of their clientele. I have often thought that patrons reflect the aspirations of the owner’s reality, not vision, and either the gap widens or is a flowing synergy. The season’s menu has surpassed the aspirations of returning to either a sophisticated Boston or London restaurant for the night. It is right here in reality and for savouring. “Our menu at the Dove uses French and Asian flavour profiles as a platform. Chef Travis Phillips changes the menu seasonally and uses only the freshest ingredients,” states Paloma. “Travis is incredibly talented. He has an innate sense of how to create a dish, how to build and contrast flavours, how to delight the diner and still find ways to surprise them, give them something unexpected.”

The wine list at the Dove is the largest in the BVI. Scott and Paloma travel to wineries every summer and select which new wines to add to the list personally. “This is definitely the most fun part of the job, but also the most interesting. Meeting and talking with the wine makers, seeing how they process the wine and tasting it at the vineyard gives you a whole new understanding for the product. This is where we have made some great finds. Every year we look for something to compliment our list, to make sure that it progresses and is responding to our customer’s wants. This year, for example, we have paid extra attention to value wines. People deservedly want great wine at a great price. This just takes a little extra hunting on our part,” explains Scott.

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Professionalism is present in every detail of the restaurant, especially the staff. Service at the Dove and Bar Fly is seamless. “We have a fantastic staff. We have been able to find some great people and most importantly, we have some great management. Managers Sean, Katie and Travis contribute so much to the restaurants. They come at us every week with fresh ideas and make sure that we stay on top of our game. We put a lot of pressure on them for new menu ideas, special parties, fundraisers, and promotions, and they always surpass our expectations,” says Paloma.

 

With all the components of a great restaurant in place, it is no surprise that the Dove and Bar Fly continue to attract full houses. “The future is very exciting,” says Scott. “Paloma and I are very lucky, we have this great relationship with our clientele that is always daring us to try something new.”

The Dove and Bar Fly are open Tuesday to Saturday serving dinner from 6pm. Call 494 0313 to make a reservation.  

MENU HIGHLIGHTS

THE DOVE

Assorted Sushi Plate  $17
Mirin & yuzu marinated crab roll, inside out sesame salmon roll & tuna nigiri

Caspian Salad  $14
Soy roasted artichokes stuffed with goats cheese, dried cherry tomatoes, shallots, cashews, mixed greens and a roasted yellow pepper vinaigrette

Tuna Tataki au Poivre $14
Wasabi avocado mousse and sous vide watermelon salad

Main Course

Duck Two Ways  $28
Pan roasted duck breast, black currant jus, green pea, potato & bacon hash/duck and fig croquette, green bean, black olive & almond salad, chili aioli

Roasted Pork Tenderloin  $25
Chinese inspired BBQ marinade, potato and corn egg roll, braised cabbage wonton, fennel slaw and a sake plum sauce

Dry Aged Black Angus Rib Eye  $36
Mushroom and parmesan crusted rib eye, black truffle jus, blue cheese potato pave, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, balsamic reduction

 

BAR FLY

Three Cheese Board  $13
Stilton, herbed goats cheese and white cheddar, served with crackers

Vegetarian Spring Rolls   $9
Filled with miso, bok choy, glass noodles, bell peppers & hearts of palm and accompanied by a passion fruit and ginger dipping sauce

Fish Tacos  $14
Pineapple ginger Mahi Mahi, cabbage, radish, scallions, cilantro
& a Mojito vinaigrette

Lemon Roasted Golden Beet Salad  $14
With apple, mixed greens, goats cheese, walnuts, horseradish vinaigrette

Bar Fly Mac & Cheese  $16
Truffled gruyere cheese sauce, crispy prosciutto & a sundried tomato salad

Duck Nachos  $15
Hoisin roasted duck, white corn tortillas, black bean chipotle
salsa& a wasabi sour cream

Moules Frites  $16
PEI mussels, white wine garlic and herb broth & hand cut frites
 

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