Bay Bistro Beachfront at Sibonne Restaurant Reviewed Summer 2012

A photograph of the famous Conch Crepe appetizer at Bay Bistro on Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Bay Bistro is famous for their Conch Crepe appetizer

By Mandy Rostance-Wolf

You can count on one hand what is left of the original architectural vestiges of the ‘old Provo’ establishments; and Sibonné Beach Hotel (formerly known as Le Deck) is one of those true originals. Back in the mid 80s it was one of just a few hotels built on Grace Bay Beach. Almost dwarfed by its newer, large scale neighbouring developments, Sibonné has weathered the decades of storms... literally; and remains a quintessential Provo favourite; absolutely charming and home to Bay Bistro for more than 8 years.

A photograph of the beachfront dining at Bay Bistro on Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Located directly on the beach at Sibonne Beach Hotel find Bay Bistro

Bragging rights place Bay Bistro closer to the shores of Grace Bay Beach than any other restaurant. This is the essence of island style dining; just steps from the lapping waves as seagulls entertain above executing their avian prowess; while palms and sea grasses rustle in the gentle breezes. The open air dining area has been expanded with an extended patio and raised dining platforms just behind the dunes. The beachfront boardwalk leading up to Bay Bistro is well worn from the throngs of barefoot diners that meander up from the beach every day. Breakfast and lunch accommodates beachwear clad aficionados eager to keep that front row centre picture postcard vision in full view; and when the sun goes down, the crisp, white table linens come out. The evening vibe is still completely comfortable and mellow as Tiki torches and lanterns engulf the al fresco dining area with a romantic glow.

With an impressive 25 years under his toque, Chef/Owner Clive Whent consistently wows his diners with his creative international cuisine with a distinctive Caribbean flair featuring incredibly fresh seafood and tantalizing Evening Specials. Not a lot has changed on this menu over the years; I think Clive would have a veritable anarchy on his hands from devoted locals, residents and habitual visitors if he did! Bartender Junior Brown has been a fixture at the bar for well over a decade; savvy and talented with an uncanny way of serving up your libations! Regular contenders at our local annual Conch Festival, Bay Bistro’s award winning dishes have earned them a bevy of conch trophies that impressively line the bar.

A photograph of a delightful Rack of Lamb at Bay Bistro on Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Chef Clive serves a delightful Rack of Lamb at Bay Bistro

This is the stuff vacation dining memories are made of... the heady scent of the salt air; giving way to the fresh baked aroma of breadsticks fragrant with garlic—with a scattering of melted cheese we eagerly plunged these warm and crusty delights into the homemade pesto sauce.

The Princess Conch and Mushroom Crepes are out of this world... really! Tender, tender conch and earthy mushrooms wrapped in a delicate crepe with a heavenly roasted red pepper pesto and cream sauce. This dish will elevate your palate to an ethereal level and bring about a feeling of profound and utter bliss. I’m not kidding! The Conch Wontons are tremendous; the Crunchy Asian Beef Spring Roll unforgettable and the Coffee Rubbed Tuna, famous and fabulous! If you think I’m exaggerating; call my bluff. This evening, Chef Clive whipped up a few special ‘tasting’ tidbits beginning with Basil Wrapped Crispy Shrimp. As we sank our teeth into this crunchy delight, a luscious and generous sized shrimp emerged from its basil and crispy eggroll cocoon with just a subtle hint of ginger. Met first with a mute reaction; the conversation rapidly evolved to a fervent level with ‘that’s awesome’ followed by, ‘there’s a lot of flavours going on’. Serving up a twist to his Caprese Salad, our mini version had all the lively and light freshness; soft, creamy buffalo mozzarella, robust tomatoes, peppery basil and a drizzle of pungent balsamic.

A photograph of Pecan Encrusted Conch with Orange Sauce at Bay Bistro on Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Another famous Bay Bistro dish is Pecan Encrusted Conch with Orange Sauce

A mid course of Pecan Encrusted Grouper showcased Clive’s remarkable talents with fish. Mike teased that Clive caught it himself this morning. I’m talking about Mike Bell, a ubiquitous presence and another familiar ‘fixture’. “What do they call you?” I asked. “You can’t print it!” Mike jested. He went on to credit himself as the ‘Busboss’ and the ‘Problem Solver’; but from our string of seamless Bay Bistro dining experiences, I have a hard time believing there are any! The staff are friendly and attentive; and our server, Milly, was delightful. The Grouper was absolutely gorgeous with a crispy pecan ‘shell’ and a sweet chili and curry sauce that had a pleasurable ‘bite’. Served on a bed of wilted spinach and topped with crispy onions (I could have eaten a bowlful of those!) this was a fabulous combination.

The wine list is unpretentious and easy to navigate. We started with a 2010 Spy Valley Pinot Noir; easy drinking and fruity, a Pinot is always a ‘safe’ choice when you need to pair it with different foods; an ‘equalizer’ of sorts. For the main event we chose a 2010 Belle Glos Pinot Noir; Mike instantly smiled and nodded his approval, “My favourite wine on the list; great choice. It is a really full bodied Pinot; you’re gonna love it!” He animatedly went on to explain, “You’ll see a difference from the first sip to twenty minutes down the road. It really opens up!” Mike was absolutely right; and you can’t help but admire the chic and stylish red wax ‘glaze’ that envelopes the neck of the bottle.

A photograph of Key Lime Pie at Bay Bistro on Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Bay Bistro must try dessert is the Key Lime Pie

There’s a lot of fish and seafood on the menu; it is Clive’s forte. In fact, so genuine is his love affair with seafood, there is even a documented photo of him on his catering website www.kissingfish.tc in a rather compromising position—locking lips with an attractive Grouper specimen! But have no fear; he’s a happily married man and a proven producer to boot! Our seafood offerings included a very healthy slab of Blackened Yellow Fin Tuna seared to rare perfection and topped with three succulent garlic shrimp and bathed in a luscious coconut curry lemongrass sauce. His Pecan Crusted Conch is served with a spicy orange sauce; a lovely conch coupling as citrus just naturally harmonizes with conch, be it lime, lemon or orange. My husband went straight for the Jerk Lamb; eager to experience this first time fusion of one of his favourite spice mélanges with lamb. He loved the combo; and raved of the meat’s “oily succulence”, and the definitive heat of the Jerk. The fabulously cheesy side of potato gratin was his piece de resistance; but resistance was of course, futile! He finished by drawing our attention to his gleaming and spotless plate, as he joked, “I left no prisoners!”

Speaking of prisoners, tonight was the last night of lobster season, and I was surrounded by diners eager to enjoy one last lobster experience before these succulent crustaceans are strictly off limits. Surf & Turf is a perennial favourite of mine; and Clive indulged me in a little menu substitution. While I knew his grilled lobster was fantastic; I desperately wanted to experience his Blackened Lobster with Mango Chutney. I hit the jackpot with this one. This duo was to die for; the beef was superb with a crispy, seared outer crust that I love; and the lobster was simply divine.

Desserts are homemade, obligatory and unavoidable including sorbets and ice cream. I was quick to blurt out “That’s mine!” for the flourless chocolate torte. In a word, “Sinful”. Indulge in Crème Brulee, Key Lime Pie, Warm Banana Torte and a Vanilla Cheesecake with a Berry Compote and coffees, specialty coffees, cognacs, ports and liqueurs.

Clive also augments Bay Bistro with his catering expertise, The Kissing Fish Catering Co., for unforgettable weddings, rehearsal dinners, large corporate events, romantic and intimate anniversaries, boisterous birthday parties, special events and beach barbeques (including pig roasts) right on the beach or at Bay Bistro; also catering gourmet meals for private jets, villas and condos. Don’t miss the Full Moon Pig Roast and beach BBQ complete with a bonfire, right on the beach.

They just don’t make ‘em like they used to; and they just don’t make ‘em like Bay Bistro!

Food photos provided by Bay Bistro.

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