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Food Hotel: Cap Maison, St Lucia

Cap Maison
Smugglers Cove Drive, Cap Estate, St. Lucia
+1 758 457 8678
Cuisine: Caribbean
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In the lexicon of loveliness Cap Maison, St Lucia should really get its own chapter, writes Andrew Copestake.
 
Less raucous and resort-ravaged than some of the other islands in the Caribbean, it can hardly be called a secret. Yet you’d be hard pushed to find another place so willing to make you feel, at least for a moment, like you have found your own personal piece of paradise.
 
Of course, it hasn’t always been this way. Like many of the islands it had its moment making sugar profits for the Europeans. It was booted from French to English rule over a dozen times. But now paradise has returned, and there is no finer place to find it than on the top of Smuggler’s Cove at the Cliff at Cap restaurant at Cap Maison.
 
This colonial, Spanish-style, family-run, boutique hotel, located on the north-west tip of the island, opened last year to much acclaim. No doubt they were enamoured by the spectacular views of azure seas and Martinique beyond, by spacious bedrooms that feature hand-painted tiles and tumbled marble and travertine basins, by furnishings of rich fabrics in soft colours in all the bedrooms, and by verandas that boast sun-loungers, private pools and jacuzzis. They were surely impressed by the personable levels of service, and by the design of the hotel’s villas, which, built around a central courtyard, takes on the feel of a private village. But dining at the Cliff would have sealed the deal.
 
The restaurant opened in January 2009 under the stewardship of Executive Chef Craig Jones. This former St Lucian Chef of the Year actually began life in Wales graduating from waiting tables in Cheshire hotels to working the kitchens of several Michelin-starred restaurants up and down the British Isles. But it was when he was given his gig in the sun, at St. Lucia’s Royal Rex Hotel, that he truly landed on his feet. At the Cap he describes his style as that lesser-known genre Nouveau French West Indian, a slightly cumbersome term for local produce given a creative spin.
 
A sample of his menu reveals things like Cracked Conch in Coconut Panko Crumbs with a Citrus Fruit Salad; Butter Poached Caribbean Lobster, Mascarpone enriched Gnocchi Parmesan Tuile; and a Roulade of “jerked” chicken breast, Caramelised Ripe Plantain and Creamed Sweet Corn. The French influence makes itself known in slightly less fanciful dishes like Ravioli of Ratatouille, Marinated Aubergine and Fennel and Orange Chilli; or Seared Yellow Fin Tuna with Niçoise style salad.
 
No doubt aware of his own youthful interest in food Craig has even created a children’s menu that goes beyond the usual chicken fingers with fries to feature such delicacies as Fish Fingers with a Crunchy Coconut Crumb. The little darlings will no doubt ever be satisfied by an Alphabet Soup again!
 
Of course he has an abundance of produce to play with. St Lucia’s fertile farmland and rich volcanic soils throw up a profusion of organic, wholesome foodstuffs and the interactive are welcome to join him on his sojourns to market or slip into the kitchen to source a recipe. Rather charmingly he still wears his blue apprentice apron to indicate that he is ever-evolving.
 
But the less hands-on, those of a lazier bent might prefer to seek out one of the Caribbean’s true remaining secrets. Far below the craggy outcrop of the Cliff at Cap lies Rock Maison, a sturdy wooden deck surrounded by crashing seas. It is here that you can arrange for private dining or simply join the adventurous for sunset cocktails. The setting is dramatic; but the piece de resistance? Your bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal, Sir, delivered in a basket via a cunning champagne Zip-line...
 

To book from the UK contact:
020 8874 9534
 
Cap Maison, Smugglers Cove Drive, Cap Estate, St. Lucia.  
www.capmaison.com / www.thecliffatcap.com
 
 
 
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17 November 2009
By: Andrew Copestake
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