Date of Review: May 1998
La Varangue is the restaurant in La
Cocoteraie. To the best of my knowledge, you do not need to be a guest
of La Cocoteraie to dine there. Fodors and others consider La Cocoteraie
the finest hotel on the island, although Le Hamak and Auberge de Vielle
Tour have their backers. Affiliated with the Meridien, La Cocoteraie is
a small all-suite property in St. Francois near the marina. Most of the
staff speak some English, many speak excellent English.
There will be a point on your visit to Guadeloupe when you have had one
colombo too many, and wish to be pampered at a fine restaurant that retains
a Caribbean flavor while serving high quality meats and other dishes. At
that point, run (don't walk) to La Varangue.
La Varangue is surrounded on two sides by La Cocoteraie's stupendous
pool and bounded on a third by a beach. It would be impossible to dine at
La Varangue and not have a water view. A bridge over the Cocoteraie's pool
also connects to La Varangue. During the evenings, a jazz guitarist plays
on the bridge, illuminated by the pool in the backround.
The cuisine at La Varangue is slightly more international-caribbean than
the other restaurants on Guadeloupe which tend towards Creole or Classical
French. Examples include large hunks of tender veal in a pineapple sauce,
chicken crusted in coconut, lamb (not goat), filet mignon (imported - not
domestic), and a variety of fresh seafood dishes. The accras were the best
at any place we dined and were complimentary at the poolside bar.
The wine list at La Varangue was the best which we saw on the island.
It would be considered a good French list anywhere in the U.S. In addition
to the typical familiar high-end French names (e.g. Lafite, Mouton), a good
selection of excellent mid-range red wines such as Pichon-Lalande and Calon
Segur were available at prices more reasonable than which I have seen in
the U.S. Champagnes included the usual suspects, plus several other excellent
selections, such asVeuve Grande Dame and my favorite, Laurent-Perrier Rose.
We had two bottles of the Calon Segur, and it was excellent.
The manager of La Varangue was the former owner manager of La Plantation
in Gosier. We talked at length with him as to what the restaurants and economy
in Guadeloupe were like prior to the world crash in sugar prices. He almost
apologized for having the best wine list on the island, telling of years
when his lists at La Plantation featured Petrus and d'Yquem. While I regret
the closing of La Plantation, the event is surely La Cocoteraie's gain.
Like the better restaurants on Guadeloupe, the menu is a suggestion,
not a requirement. After days of goat and rooster, I craved veal in demi
glace with roasted potatoes Although the dish I yearned for was not on
the menu, it was found in the kitchen, and it was fantastic. All six of
us raved about our respective meals.
La Varangue is pricey, but no much more so than the other top restaurants
in Guadeloupe. Its cuisine is not classical French like Chateau de Fuielles
and Cote Cour, but is excellent in a Caribbean style. By all means, find
the time to have dinner here one night. You will find that the St. Francois
casino and several night spots are a short walk away at the marina. I strongly
recommend La Varangue.