(CNS Foodie): My companion and I decided that a nice meal out was just the thing to pick up our spirits mid-week (plus the leftovers had run out) so we headed to The Wharf Restaurant and Bar. The Wharf has been newly refurbished and we wanted to see what changes had been made and check out the food. It was a weeknight, so turning up without a reservation was no problem and the staff were, as always, welcoming.
We were taken to table with a great view of the tarpons swimming in the lights – in fact all the diners had tables with views. It was lovely evening with a slight breeze to keep the mozzies away.
It was difficult to see what had been refurbished as we did not go inside so the main alteration that we noticed was that the outside bar had been reduced in size to provide for additional relaxed seating and bar tables. It wasn’t until I ventured to the toilets that I found the best refurbishment: there are proper toilets for the ladies (if you ever went to the outside bar toilets at The Wharf of old you will know what I mean), so no longer would there be people peering through the window to see if you are finished! I did try to get a look inside but was cut off by the staff and redirected outside (very gently, of course).
Once settled in, we investigated the new menu, which was actually much the same as the old one with just a couple of variations. After we ordered a bottle of Luc Pirlet Les Barriques Reserve Pinot Noir (one of the cheapest wines on the very extensive list at $42 but also, luckily, from one of our favourite regions), we decided to share a starter of baked goat cheese ($13) followed by the mango BBQ rum glazed salmon ($29) for myself and dry jerk spice rubbed pork tenderloin ($30) for my companion.
The wine took a little bit of time to arrive but the tarpon kept us amused in the interim and it was worth the wait; it was a very light Pinot Noir and quite fruity – just the thing for mid-week. The baked goat cheese was served on a slice of toast with marinated tomatoes, sliced olives and smoked hazelnuts. It was quite a large portion for a starter and I am glad we decided to share. The marinated tomatoes were lovely, sweet and fresh which, together with the olives and smoked hazelnuts, complemented the richness of the goat cheese very well.
There was nice interlude between our starter and main course when it was time for the tarpon to get their nightly snack. It was very entertaining watching people feed them although it seemed a little painful for a couple of the participants when the larger tarpon thought that hands were part of the meal deal. Still, no one lost anything vital.
The main courses arrived and we commenced to tuck in. The salmon was well cooked – it was tasty and not overcooked but it was very, very sweet. It was was served on a bed of coconut pumpkin puree with roasted beets and assorted small vegetables, which meant that the whole meal was extremely sweet. I didn’t feel that the beets provided enough acid to cut through the extreme sweetness of the BBQ glaze and the puree.
I am not sure that having both the glaze and the puree is well advised since the BBQ glaze needs an accompaniment that either counteracts its sweetness or else is neutral – definitely not something that adds to the sweetness. My companion thought that the pork tenderloin was cooked as ordered (medium), the jerk was subtle and the vegetables (the same vegetable selection as mine) were nice and crunchy and complemented the pork well.
So, on to dessert …we felt we should. I was looking forward to the orange brûlée, which was listed online but missing from the actual menu, replaced with a vanilla crème brûlée, which didn’t sound quite so interesting to me. In the end, my companion ordered the brûlée ($10) and I decided to try Cayman lime pie topped with meringue ($10). When the well-presented desserts arrived, we dug in straight away.
The brûlée was a little thick, not the silky consistency expected, and the almond crisp was not crisp. Neither of these issues put off my companion, though, who polished it off with no problem. My pie looked lovely on the dish with a dash of chocolate sauce on the plate and swirls of coulis. The pie itself was substantial – a cross between Key lime pie and lime meringue, there was no lightness to this dessert. The pie would have been fine on its own but lacked the lightness needed for pairing with the meringue, the result was a fusion of two desserts that detracted from, rather than complemented, each other. I tend to rate desserts on whether I want the recipe or not and I had no desire to request the recipe for this pie.
On the whole, we enjoyed the evening. The Wharf is in a lovely location and although I would not make the same food choices next time, I will return. My companion was happy with his dinner, saying it was a good meal but not great.
The staff were pleasant and obliging, though seemed to be still in training. Our bread was served after our starter had been eaten, our waiter didn’t place the plates on the table so much as put them down (I thought he had set my oblong dish down diagonally on purpose but realised this was not the case when my companion had his plate placed at a different angle) and we waited for a quite a while between giving our card to pay the bill until it was returned, which was a little alarming. I expect these staff issues will disappear once the servers gain more experience.
Gratuity: 15% added to the bill.