It was 2002 when Coco Lobo first figuratively “opened its doors” (as it literally had no doors) with a grill and tables in the sand. It was a neighboring spot to the original La Gloriette restaurant which, by then, was an island institution. This new, casual feet-in-the-sand dining experience was a huge hit. Time passes and the Coco Lobo concept became a rhum shop and that prized sand and glorious view become the new home of La Gloriette.
Lunch is La Gloriette is a wonderfully relaxed experience if the weather corporates. In bad weather you can retreat to the indoor tables but we are much more inclined to find ourselves at La Gloriette on a sunny day when the colors of Grand Cul de Sac are some of the most visually arresting on the island. It was a sunny day but with high winds when we last visited but we still choose dine at a table in the sand under the palm trees.
The wine list is small but boasts some really reasonable options with a Drouin Chardonnay, Belleruche Côtes du Rhône and a Cep D’Or Côtes de Provence all for 20€ a bottle (a price that might score you a glass pour at many places on the island).
The food at La Gloriette has not changed too much over the years which is a good thing. Accras – those addictive little codfish fritters – are light as air here and served with a creole dipping sauce.
St. Barths has mastered the art of raw, local fish and La Gloriette’s version was up to par. Translucent slices of mahi mahi were dressed with a “virgin sauce” (Sauce vierge – meaning uncooked) that married chopped basil, olive oil, garlic, onions, peppercorns and fresh lime juice together.
The “Salad Exotique” has been on the menu since the early days of La Gloriette and, because I am a creature of habit, I’ve ordered it many, many times. Truthfully, although it was a solid salad back in the day, it was never all that exotic. The absence this time of the local, spiny lobster and the tropical fruit that it used to feature (kiwis and pineapples and the like) made it more of a “Salad Mundane”. Next time I think I’LL be less mundane and change it up a bit and try something new. I’m coming for you grilled calamari steak.
Also somewhat mundane this trip was the service. The charming Sandra (Albert’s daughter) was there and stopped by to say hello but was mainly attending to the patrons hiding from the wind at the indoor tables. Our server was clearly new to the server game. He was little too eager to take our order when we were trying to enjoy our champagne. The type of fish in the carpaccio was a mystery to him (Sandra to the rescue). About ten minutes after delivering the plates he grabbed the salad and said, “All done with this?” We had maybe eaten one scallop and one shrimp at this point and had to reclaim our lunch. The wine was poured by us and the famous rhum did not make an appearance. Still we had that view.
There was an upside to the heavy breeze and it meant we got to spend some time appreciating the surfers strutting their stuff at Toiny. They were out in force and the level of talent was incredible. Overall, a nice afternoon on the wild side of the island.