Mango Reef Restaurant Providenciales (Provo), Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed Summer 2016

A photograph of Mango Reef Restaurant in Turtle Cove, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mango Reef Restaurant situated in a picturesque waterside location in Turtle Cove

By Mandy Rostance-Wolf

On the ‘pond’ on Little Diddle Cay, the Mango Reef Restaurant has taken on a whole new perspective. Moving from its Grace Bay beachfront location to Turtle Cove Marina, this immensely popular venue has taken on a new charm and appeal all its own. Dine waterside on the open-air terraces overlooking the marina harbour, where you can relax and watch the comings and goings of the day-to-day boat traffic. You can even cruise in and ‘tie up’ at their boat dock. The back terrace overlooks the historical and rustic ruins of The Third Turtle Inn, the beginnings of tourism on Providenciales, breaking ground circa 1967.

The evenings take on a dazzling, tropical aura with Tiki torches and palm trees wrapped in lights. Underwater illumination ignites the harbour with colour in pinks, blues and greens.

Loyal and steadfast island residents and returning visitors experienced some withdrawal while Mango Reef was closed and under construction. But it was worth the wait. These new ‘digs’ feature two lively bars and the restaurant can seat up to 250, accommodating weddings, special events and parties. Same great menu, same great staff.

A photograph of Mango Reef Restaurant in Turtle Cove, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Aumoniere of Scallop

Mango Reef specialises in fresh local flavours and seafood, plus a comprehensive selection of international favourites. Head Chef Florent Sourmont hails from Brittany, France and Philippino Sous Chef Reynaldo Abao adds an Asian influence to the menu. Countless long-time familiar faces make up their multi-cultural staff, many of whom have worked together for more than a decade. Some items change seasonally and all the fresh fish is local. Like the staff, many of their fishermen have been there from the beginning.

Tuck into a basket stacked with thick slices of warm, crusty bread, perfect for noshing on while perusing the extensive menu, but don’t let them take it away - it’s perfect for mopping up - but more on that later.

This evening’s cocktails included Mango Reef’s ‘Dark & Stormy,’ featuring two local products, Bambarra Gold Rum and Turks Head Beer. Topped with ginger ale, this was a lighter tasting version of the traditional cocktail made with ginger beer. The ‘Reef Sunset’ cocktail was an intoxicating blend of exotic flavours, with colours reminiscent of an island sunset.

I’m obsessed with the Crispy Aumoniere of Scallop. No matter how many times I order this dish, it is like tasting it for the first time. But this night, my fellow diner would have the honours. Not only is the presentation spectacular, but it also looks like a crispy purse, the flavours are divine. Four plump and succulent, sautéed, jumbo scallops, mushrooms and spinach were smothered in a velvety Parmesan cream sauce and topped with to-die-for crispy shallots and truffle oil. "The sauce makes it. Has so much flavour."

The Open Ravioli of Scallops and Shrimp is just as decadent and divine. Not the traditional stuffed pasta pockets, but layers of pasta sheets, skilfully folded and stuffed. This dish is like unwrapping a delicious present. Peeling back pasta layers revealed sautéed shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and vegetables. A rich and creamy Parmigiano sauce meandered its way throughout the dish, and the pièce de résistance is a luxurious drizzle of truffle oil and those marvellous crispy shallots.

A photograph of Mango Reef Restaurant in Turtle Cove, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.One Dozen Escargot Two Ways

If you love your slugs, you will love that Mango Reef offers them by the dozen. Six are submerged in a traditional garlic, parsley butter and the other six in a fabulously rich garlic cream sauce, dripping over the dimples of the escargot plates. Wafted by the evening breezes, those incredibly redolent aromas landed right under my nose. Preoccupied recording culinary comments, when I finally lifted my head – and my fork for a taste, I was surprised to discover the dimples were almost empty. I quickly intercepted one of the last garlic cream slugs, then tore off a piece of bread and plunged it into a small remaining puddle of garlic butter. With just the slightest tinge of guilt, my favourite dining companion smiled and confessed, "It’s awesome."

While she may love her slugs, I’m a sucker for squid. Tender rings of calamari enveloped in a lovely, light and crispy homemade tempura batter. The spicy sriracha dipping sauce was a sensational complement.

A photograph of Mango Reef Restaurant in Turtle Cove, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Shrimp Tempura

Talking Tempura, the Shrimp Tempura is a knock-out dish. A heaping plate of large, tender shrimp are cocooned in a crispy, to-die-for tempura batter and doused in that same sensational sriracha sauce.

Absolutely out-of-the-sea fresh makes the Tuna Carpaccio a perennial favourite. Paper thin slices of tender tuna are marinated in olive oil and basil and served with capers, onions, tomatoes, seaweed salad and Parmesan.

This multi-cultural menu has a very appealing wine list to match, with wines hailing from all the anticipated regions. What’s more, I could not find a bottle over $100. With bottles ranging from $32 to $90, most are between $39 and $49. I’ll drink to that! First up, a medium-bodied 2011 Freemark Abbey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. This Bordeaux-style blend hit the bull’s eye with plenty of dark fruit and supple tannins, great with our appetisers. Next, an elegant and silky 2012 Margaux Les Hauts Du Tertre from France. Another Bordeaux-style blend with a long, lingering and pleasurable finish.

A photograph of Mango Reef Restaurant in Turtle Cove, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Chargrilled Local Snapper

Nothing says Turks & Caicos like our local Red Queen Snapper. Char-grilled and served ‘whole,’ this spectacle never fails to impress. Scrumptiously crispy skin enveloped the tender, delicate fish. Plunge these morsels into the garlic butter sauce and voila - perfection! Topped with a generous sprinkling of more of those extravagantly wonderful and crispy shallots, I am convinced Chef Florent must have a vat of them! He should bottle and sell them.

Experience the thrill of it all with Dominican Paella. It’s a veritable Caribbean culinary carnival featuring tuna, grouper, salmon, mussels, scallops, shrimp, chicken and a fabulously smoky chorizo. Cooked with onions, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, green peas, fish broth, white wine and saffron. The saffron gives the delicate and tender rice a lovely, golden hue and infuses it with flavour.

My husband opted for an evening special of Char-Grilled Asian-Style Barbeque Braised Short Ribs. And special it was. Marinated and slow braised the meat was savoury, tender and full of flavour. He nodded his approval, a drop of sauce still glistening on his upper lip. "So succulent, so very juicy," he sighed.

My fellow diner raved over his Oven Roasted Garlic Black Tiger Shrimp. Three huge shrimp together with a decadent garlic butter sauce. So captivated with these crustaceans, he paused ever so briefly to provide his critique and simply murmured, "I love ‘em."

Experience far-flung and exotic flavours with dishes like Mee Goreng, a spicy fried noodle dish with shrimp, chicken and vegetables; Spicy Yellow Madras Chicken Breast simmered in coconut milk; or Spicy Ikan Curry Grouper with cooling Cucumber Raita. In season, lobster dishes get their own menu page, and Mango Reef’s Lobster Pasta is superb.

A photograph of Mango Reef Restaurant in Turtle Cove, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Mango Cheesecake

Homemade desserts are almost too beautiful to eat thanks to the talents of Pastry Chef Gary Siquioco. Tonight’s desserts included a "berry good" Raspberry Macaroon, a crispy French almond biscuit stuffed with fresh raspberry, vanilla custard and strawberry ice cream. A "chiffon-like" Mango Cheesecake and Trilogy 3, decadent layers of dark, milk and white chocolate ganache. On the lighter side, a tame, but teasingly tart, Lime Sorbet.

If you build it, they will come. Like a culinary cult, we devotedly followed the Mango Reef. We love what you’ve done with the place!

Photos by Lisa Adara Photography

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