The ninth edition of Bermuda Restaurant Weeks got underway on the 16th of January and is in full swing until Sunday, February 2nd. It’s a time when local eateries encourage diners to come out and sample their Bermuda inspired meals while reaping the benefit of affordable fixed tiered pricing. In 2020, fifty restaurants are participating, providing locals and visitors alike a sampling of their specially created menus under the theme of “Food is Community”
A dinner on the first night of Restaurant Weeks is a bit of a tradition around these parts, and on this night, we chose Café Coco at the Coco Reef Resort. The resort which is tucked away behind the Bermuda College campus is somewhat of a best kept secret - with breathtaking south shore views during the day, a lobby filled with fascinating works of art, and extraordinary decor that are a conversation piece to say the least, and a cool, laid back bar that is the ideal backdrop for quiet drinks for two or for happy hour amongst friends.
One key aspect which drew us to Coco Reef was recently appointed, Bermudian head chef, Daamian Simmons. He has assembled a locally-inspired menu that is sure to please.
To start, we ordered the Coconut Shrimp and the Classic Burrata.
Two crispy coated, jumbo shrimp were served on a bed of black bean and corn salsa and topped with a pineapple chutney. Each element of the dish was tasty on its own, but just that much better when your fork gathers a bit of each in one bite. The pineapple chutney adds a pleasantly surprising bold pop of flavour.
For us, Burrata is a must order dish, and Chef Simmons’ rendition was a bite of fresh, creamy heaven. The saltiness of the prosciutto, olives and pesto blended well with the freshness of the tomato and cheese. The fun comes with sopping up the cream and pesto with pieces of bread.
As luck would have it, a 60lb Rockfish had just been delivered to the restaurant and so the Pan fried Local Fish dish was basically a must for the first main course. And for the second, we selected Chef Simmons' Gnocchi creation.
The Gnocchi was an extremely satisfying dish with a sun-dried tomato cream sauce and roasted vegetables. The sweetness of the butternut squash with the tanginess of the sun-dried tomatoes made for a rich flavour festival of a vegetarian meal.
FRESH BERMUDA Pan fried Rockfish atop garlicky Kale and saffron rice, all covered with a banana rum chutney and plantain chips. Perfectly prepared fish, with subtle sweet notes from the rum chutney, a crunch from the plantain chips supported by flavourful greens and rice, all make for a dish that feels like Bermuda all over.
Choices for dessert include: Sweet Potato Pudding, Mini Bombalini, and Loquat Creme Brulee. We settled for the two latter.
The Mini Bombalini were a perfect choice if you found yourself full and not wanting too much or too sweet. These mini bites are filled with chocolate cream, laced with creme anglaise and garnished with berries - this makes it really ideal for sharing.
The loquat creme brulee, is a solid mix of sweet, tart, creamy custard with a crispy top. Fresh berries and biscotti add an add more textures and tastes to the plate that push this dish over the top into a happy place.
Reflecting on the evening, dinner at Café Coco was gratifying from the food and atmosphere to the stellar and attentive service. While Restaurant Weeks provides a full 3-course meal, this experience didn’t leave us over-stuffed, unable to enjoy the last bite. In fact, you got value for money with satisfying portions that were hearty in nature. One thing is for certain, long after #BermudaRW has ended, Coco Reef Hotel will remain in roster, both to enjoy the vibe of the hotel and to stay abreast of the dishes coming out of Chef Simmons' kitchen.