Dining on Guadeloupe


Guadeloupe is justifiably known for its cuisine. A blend of country french and creole, capped with fresh caribbean seafood. Not only did I have the best meals I have ever had in the caribbean while in Guadeloupe, our group had some meals which would rate among our best anywhere.

 

Restaurant Reviews

 

General Observations:

Like Northern Italy, there are restaurants around every corner. You can be driving in the middle of the countryside, turn a bend, and a small sign will direct you to a little restaurant.

The national menu appears to be accras, boudin noir, farci, lambi and cabri colombo. These dishes can be found at all but the very high end restaurants.

Accras is a spicy codfish fritter. Boudin Noir is blood sausage. Blood sausage is exactly what it sounds like. It is not to be confused with Lousiana style Boudin (Boudin Blanc) which is a pork sausage made with cooked rice and peppers. Farci is stuffed land crab. Lambi is conch.

Colombo means curry. Guadeloupeans use a mild green curry. It is nowhere near the level of heat found in Indian curries. The most common curry will be cabri; small goat. Goat is a bony animal as it is, small goat is quite bony. Other colombos will include poulet (chicken) and occasionally porc (pork).

To my taste, the strength in Guadeloupean restaurants is not the curries. Rather, its is the fresh seafood (especially lobster grilled on a wood burning grill) and country french cuisine. Sauces at most french menu restaurants were tremendous. A member of our group was a chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and he does not give compliments loosely. At a few restaurants, he was so pleased he would take his bread to dab onto everyone's plates, just so he could enjoy the variety of sauces.

Menu prices include tax and tip, so they will appear a bit high at first glance. Only tip extra for exemplary service.

Note that "entree" means appetizer (not main course), which makes sense at it translates to "begin" or "enter". I have no idea why Americans use the word to mean main course.

Wine lists, even at the nicer restaurants, are generally brief. Producers and vintages are often not disclosed. Lists usually focus upon lighter wines such as Beaujolais, Sancerre, and Tavel. Rhone, Bordeaux and Burgundy wines were almost non-existant. Champagnes were the only mid-range or high-end wines widely available. This trend was also true in the supermarkets. The Varangue at the Cocoteraie and the Auberge de Vielles Tour were exceptions, with decent wine lists and some finer wines.

A note on Beaujolais. The best red wines at reasonable prices on Guadeloupe will be Beaujolais. For advertising reasons not clear to me, the only Beaujolais which most Americans are exposed to is Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau is released amid much fanfare on the third Thursday in November, after cellaring to the ripe old age of about three months. Vintners usually choose their lesser wines for this sacrifice, and Beaujolais Nouveau should be drunk within a few months of release.

The Beaujolais which you will see in a French restaurant is not Nouveau. Rather, it is aged a minimum of a year (often more), may be a blend (usually a Beaujolais Villages), a single cru such as Moulin-a-Vent or Morgon, or even a single vineyard wine from a specific cru. Most cru level and above Beaujolais are serious medium-ageworthy wines, albeit lighter and fruitier due to the use of the Gamay grape. Order the most expensive Beaujolais on a wine list in Guadeloupe and compare it with the least expensive Burgundy. You should find the Beaujolais less expensive and a better wine.

I have seen a restaurant guide titled "Ti Gourmet" recommended in several places. Ti Gourmet charges for inclusion. As a result, many of the restaurants with fine reputations and which do not need the additional advertising are omitted. If you use Ti Gourmet as your guide, you will miss out on several of the better restaurants.

Restaurant Closings: The wordlwide decline in sugar prices has affected Guadeloupe's economy as well as the rest of the Caribbean. As a result, some high end restaurants which relied upon business clientele have closed. Noteworthy closings include La Canne au Sucre in Pointe au Pitre, La Plantation in Gosier, and the Auberge du Saint Francois.