Fellow food-lovers, unite! Let’s get our taste buds ready for St. Maarten Flavors in November. In anticipation of this culinary month, we took the crucial task upon ourselves to go out and about and sample some of the best flavours of St. Maarten. And while we were at it, we thought: Why not try to uncover some of their secret recipes?
Throughout the entire month of November, St. Maarten Flavors will present a fantastic opportunity to indulge in the finest offerings of the island's top restaurants and bars. During this time, patrons can enjoy specially chosen signature dishes or cocktail combinations at significantly discounted prices. Participating venues will provide a variety of options, including sampler or single-dish meals starting at just US $17.50, and three-course feasts starting at $49.
For our next stop on this important quest, Out ‘n About stopped in at Porto Cupecoy to discover the flavours of Rendez-Vous Lounge. Open since 2010, the restaurant has become a fast favourite for good food and delicious drinks among tourists and locals alike, while enjoying the intimate ambiance on the plaza that is lined with palm trees and overlooks the marina.
With their daily non-stop food and drink service and extensive breakfast, lunch, dinner, pizza, cocktail and sweets menus, Rendez-Vous Lounge truly has something for everyone – and whenever they like. Start your day off right with a balanced breakfast en plein air – Rendez-Vous Lounge offers the perfect setting for the most important meal of the day. Not only does the restaurant boast the best cappuccino on the island, but the freshly-made juices, mimosas and bloody mary’s are sure to put a smile on your face. Combined with seemingly endless savoury and sweet breakfast options, the most important meal of the day might also just become your most memorable.
The car-free quaint plaza provides the perfect escape from the afternoon hustle and bustle and the lunch menu is equally as extensive – if not more. There are soups, tartars, poke bowls and salads for those wishing to avoid the post-lunch dip, but also plenty of homemade pastas, burgers, paninis, grilled meats and seafood options.
Dinner is a tasteful affair at Rendez-Vous Lounge. We recommend starting off your dining experience with a craft cocktail and some tapas during the daily happy hour from 5:00 to 7:00pm while taking in the serene surroundings. Then treat yourself to one of the restaurant’s dining options such as grilled red snapper, crispy skin salmon, beef fillet tenderloin, rack of lamb or lobster ravioli. Last, but certainly not least, see what all the buzz is about and try one of Rendez-Vous Lounge’s famous desserts such as crepes, gelato, banana split, or our personal favourite – a Belgian waffle.
Looking for an extra special experience? Every Tuesday is Creole Night at Rendez-Vous Lounge, including creole food specialities and live music during high season. On Fridays, Alfredo Acosta provides sweet sounds for a romantic evening and on Sundays, the restaurant attracts tourists and locals alike for their iconic Jazz lunch.
Owner Nathalie Schoenher is currently still working on the restaurant’s menu for St. Maarten Flavors this coming November. So during our visit, we sampled some of the restaurant’s bestsellers to give you a preview of the good that is to come.
First up is the Eggplant Parmigiana – a great vegetarian option available for both lunch and dinner. For lunch, the cheesy goodness comes with a crisp side salad and for dinner, patrons can enjoy this lasagne-like dish as a unique appetizer.
Nathalie tells us the dish takes hours to prepare, which explains the melt-in-your-mouth textures and the rich taste. It is everything you expect an eggplant parmigiana to be – comforting, cheesy and savoury, balanced with fresh basil and juicy capers – as satisfying as a “real” lasagne.
The best part? Nathalie is so kind to share the recipe with us, so we can try our hand at the cheesy perfection at home!
Next is the RDVous Mixed Grill, which comprises kebabs of chicken, Mahi Mahi and beef served with fries, salad and avocado dip with nachos. When the huge plate first comes out, we wonder if we will be able to finish the dish, but it is so well-prepared that we eat every last crumb and even asked for more of that deliciously creamy mushroom sauce.
The kebabs are all grilled to perfection: Flaky Mahi, well-seasoned chicken, and beef that tastes just like steak. Everything else is just as it is supposed to be – the French fries are crispy and thin, the salad is fresh and comes with a perfectly tangy dressing (so good that Nathalie says people ask to take it home) and the creamy avocado offers a nice balance.
Of course, we cannot leave without trying Rendez-Vous’ famous waffles. The classic Liege Waffle is their most popular sweet treat. They are freshly made and served all day long, so you can have a sweet treat anytime – breakfast, lunch, afternoon treat, dinner or even to go – no one is judging!
There are two waffle regions in Belgium: Liege and Brussels. Brussels waffles are square and made from crepe dough so they are crispy and light and not very sweet, whereas Liege waffles are sweeter, softer and round – with crispy nibs of sugar in the dough.
Nathalie explains that there is no one traditional way to serve Belgian waffles as there are so many inventive versions. At Rendez Vous Lounge, they have kept this creative tradition going – you can get your waffle with sugar, maple syrup, Nutella, Nutella and banana, Nutella with strawberries, or strawberries and whipped cream. Additionally, you can design your own dessert by adding various toppings such as sprinkles and Italian gelato.
We opt for strawberries and cream variation and are definitely not disappointed. The doughy and soft waffle is perfectly balanced by the creamy whipped cream and fresh strawberries and some bites surprise us with a little, sweet crunch of sugar – a true delight at any time of day if you ask us, and a delicious pairing with the fresh and tangy passion fruit mojito Nathalie makes us.
It’s not too late to be part of this year’s line-up and be featured in the Out n About’s “Secrets of St. Maarten Flavors”. Participating restaurants should contact the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) for details about the promotional campaign. Interested restaurants can also still sign up to participate in the month-long St. Maarten Flavors campaign via stmaartenflavors.com.
Eggplant Parmigiana (8-10 servings)
1.8 kilo of large eggplant
¼ cup of olive oil
1 and 2/3 cups of grated Parmesan
2 cups of fresh basil
1½ cup of shredded Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion and 5 garlic cloves finely minced
20 oz tomato paste
140 oz of peeled tomato can crushed and finely chopped
1½ teaspoon sugar
1½ tablespoon oregano
1 cup water
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 220° C and line 3 large trays with baking paper.
2. Brush eggplant slices on each side with olive oil. Bake 35-45 min until tender. Don’t forget to turn the eggplant slices half way.
3. Sauté onions and garlic in a large skillet with olive oil for 3 mins until softened. Add the tomato paste and the canned peeled tomato. Then add the water, oregano and sugar. Stir and bring to simmer for 30-40 mins. Add some basil and the salt and pepper after 15-20 mins.
4. Reduce oven to 180° C. Take a big oven dish and make a napoleon with the eggplant by alternating layers of eggplant; tomato sauce; and parmesan and basil. On the final layer, cover the eggplant with a little sauce and some parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 25 mins until gold and bubbling.
6. Cut like a lasagne, serve and ENJOY.