St. Lucia is not only a beautiful and romantic island, it is one of the Caribbean’s most tropical landscapes, with lots of adventures to explore. Less known is the fine dining at places like The Coal Pot Restaurant, a classic French Caribbean gourmet restaurant right on the water’s edge. It is located in Vigie Bay, across from Pointe Seraphine and the delightful Poinsettia Villas on the hill overlooking Ganters Bay and the wider Vigie Cove.
Dining at Coal Pot is special. You should reserve in advance and make sure you get a table right on the waterfront. You are so close to the water that you can easily put your foot into it. It’s a shallow beachfront table and at night the sea is lit up so that you can see the fish swimming by. The water is clear and even the pebbles under the water are visible from your table.
Across to the south is the Castries harbor and you may well see a cruise ship passing by. The bay itself is a working shallow draft marina for local catamaran tours and deep sea fishing. There is a slow and quiet movement of boats and water taxis in the area; that adds a bit of action to the scene and enhances the dining experience.
Coal Pot’s cuisine is decidedly French Caribbean. The menu is a mixture of both styles with the famous St. Lucia Crab Backs and Callaloo Soup listed along with Mussel Provencale and Coquille St. Jacques. The wine selection is a good offer; both inexpensive house wines and the vintage wines from Rioja, Spain as well as many well known French vineyards.
They tend to keep red wines in air conditioned rooms, and on our last evening, the wine was decidedly chilled. It’s a practice that is fairly common in the region as the heat of the tropics is not kind to vintage wines. In Martinique, they actually chill red wines, keeping them in a fridge.
Our wine was corked and rather spicy tasting. The maitre d’ had some difficulty saying that it was corked as it was a hearty Rioja. The wine was taken off the bill I am pleased to say, and on reflection, it was my own hesitancy to say it was corked that confused the issue. I have been known to send back perfectly normal wine that was just hearty, feeling that it was too vinegary. It is hard to know if you are not a connoisseur and I am often disappointed with the less expensive wines that just are not smooth.
You are eating on art when you dine at Coal Pot. The dinner set is earthenware, made by the owner who is an artist and potter.
The décor of the place is Bohemian set off with modern, local art and historical pieces from the days of rum, cane and cannons.
The art on the walls and the tables is by Michelle Elliott, one of the founders of the restaurant. Her style is “whimsical and fun” with vibrant colors and a very personal style with that touch of fantasy. She captures the spirit of St. Lucia and the sunny ambiance and colors of the Caribbean.
The service has always been good; definitely not brilliant, but always pleasant in my personal experience. St. Lucians are often not well trained in service etiquette and it’s easy to mistake that for an attitude. They can be offhand and casual but I have never found them rude or surly. Training may not be the best but the dining experience is a delight.
The Coal Pot Restaurant, Vigie, St. Lucia – http://CoalPotRestaurant.com (758) 452-5566
Places to stay in Vigie: Poinsettia Villa Apartments- http://poinsettiaApartments.com (758) 456-0469
Michelle Elliott the artist may be contacted at Wild Orchid Designs (758) 452-5422.
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