Opus Wine Bar Grill Providenciales (Provo), Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed March / April 2015

A photograph of Nightly Special - Fresh Crudo Tasting at Opus located at Ocean Club Plaza, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Nightly Special - Fresh Crudo Tasting at Opus

By Mandy Rostance-Wolf
Photography By www.LisaAdaraPhoto.com

Captivating elegance, casual sophistication and superb cuisine are the essence of your Opus dining experience. The loyal and ever growing following of culinary collaborators Tony Arata and Abby Marlow is an undeniable testament to their exceptional and intuitive talents as successful restaurateurs.

Inside, the stylish bar and lounge is a cool and popular meeting place where you can take pleasure in pre-dinner cocktails or dine beneath the striking vaulted ceiling. Outside, the enchanting and mesmerising atmosphere reminds me of something out of a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Candlelit tables are scattered beneath the massive and majestic limbs of illuminated ficus trees in a lush, tropical garden. Prepare to be serenaded by the agreeable arias of crickets, which frequently share the spotlight with the vocal stylings of many of our own talented local musicians.

The menu is a symphonic fusion of fabulous dishes: appetisers, soup and salads, and entrées. A selection of ‘Tonight’s Specials,’ are often dominated by what Abby boasts is not only the most popular menu item, but also the house specialty – locally caught seafood. With Chef Rolin (Rollie) Almonte, a seasoned fisherman himself, behind the scenes, you know it’s going to be expertly prepared. Rollie is indeed the ‘skipper’ of the kitchen when it comes to fresh seafood.

A photograph of Opus Wine Bar Grill located at Ocean Club Plaza, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Opus Wine Bar Grill is located at The Ocean Club Plaza

Abby, a talented chef in her own right, also acted as our culinary compere this evening, excited and eager to share some of the new dishes featured on the menu. “I've been eating and drinking a lot over the summer. All in the name of research.” she quipped.

She went on to regale us with this evening’s delights, and also offered a few suggestions, including Salmon Tartare, ‘Tonight’s Special Appetiser’ of Seafood Bouillabaisse and the Crudo Tasting. “That's different for the island. It's all fresh fish. Our thing is always the locally caught fresh fish,” she emphasised. “It's fresh, fresh!” Local fish that might appear on your menu include grouper, snapper, mahi mahi, lobster, conch and tuna. But we all know there’s no guarantee when it comes to fishing. “No fish? No problem,” Abby explained. “If they're not catchin' it, then I'll get it!” Much to our surprise, it’s as simple as an overnight FedEx.

Many a review has brought forth a fascinating and fun food fact and tonight was no exception. Abby explained that while tuna is plentiful, it is a tough catch to reel in. It should be hooked and dragged in gently. Bringing the tuna aboard and allowing it to flop around on the deck can cause it to bleed out, adversely affecting the texture and taste.

A photograph of Rare Seared Yellowfin Tuna at Opus
at Ocean Club Plaza, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Rare Seared Yellowfin Tuna at Opus

An Amuse-bouche of Bruschetta is always a lovely way to start a meal. The bright acidity of fresh tomatoes, coupled with a tangible smattering of heady garlic, drenched in a fruity EVOO never fails to inspire and stimulate the palate.

Trusting in dear Abby’s advice, we unanimously agreed that the ‘Tonight's Fresh Crudo Tasting’ was going to be a trailblazer. In Italian, crudo simply means raw. Fresh slices of four different seafood offerings were very reminiscent of sashimi, and simply melted in your mouth: Tuna with wasabi mayo and crispy nori, Snapper with berry and mint compote, Salmon with chilled braised leek and dill, and Conch with cilantro, jalapeno and red pepper salsa. Without a doubt, this is a requisite dish for any seafood aficionado.

Abby was certainly on a roll this evening. We cooed over the delectable Salmon Tartare. Served with capers, shallots, cucumber, avocado, and a dill and lime aïoli, my dining companion unreservedly blurted out, “THAT is to die for.” The unique combination of smoked and fresh salmon was fabulous, and the accoutrements were extremely complementary, perfectly enhancing this dish.

Mussels in a vine-ripe tomato basil sauce prompted my fellow diner to confess, “I don't usually eat mussels – I’m a clam guy. These mussels are to die for. Excellent.”

A photograph of New York Strip with carmelised cherry tomatoes at Ocean Club Plaza, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.New York Strip with carmelised cherry tomatoes

The Caprese Salad was a veritable ‘blossom’ of freshness and simplicity; a divine Kalamata pesto vinaigrette added just the ideal pizzazz to delicate Mozzarella cheese and vine-ripened tomato wedges. The crispy basil tempura was also marvelous.

We took great pleasure in the multitude of tastes and textures in the Lobster Summer Rolls. The subtle and delicate morsels of lobster were perfectly harmonised with bok choy, mango glass noodles and cilantro, with a gorgeous sweet chili dipping sauce. “It is indeed divine.”

Opus boasts one of the most impressive wine lists on the Island. Duck Pond Pinot Noir is one of our go-to wines; it’s food-friendly and always a crowd pleaser. This 2012 from Oregon poured a rich, garnet red and rendered lush and balanced flavours of fruit, earth and spice. 2012 must have been a very good year. We moved on to a California Meiomi Pinot Noir of the same vintage. A luxurious mouth feel with soft tannins evoked hearty approval from my fellow diner who called it “A nice evolution. It has texture, it has silkiness.” As we continued to applaud the BIG wine characteristics, my dining companion sipped, smiled and added, “This will go great with my rare tuna.” And indeed it did.

A photograph of Fresh locally caught Snapper filet with salsa and sauteed vegetables at Ocean Club Plaza, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Fresh locally caught Snapper filet with salsa and sauteed vegetables

A gorgeous loin of Rare Seared Yellowfin Tuna was crusted with nori and wasabi, served with sesame ginger rice, rum soy sauce, and grilled bok choy. I took one look and said, “That looks amazing.” My fellow diner heartily replied, “It is!” He unreservedly poured the rum soy sauce all over the tuna, appreciating and praising the sauce’s hint of heat.

A Whole Roasted Snapper is a sight to behold. With lemon capers and shallots, this is the only way to experience our fresh, local fish in all its simple and unpretentious splendour.

They ‘jerk’ a lot of things on Provo, but I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of Jerk Spiced Mahi Mahi. This lean, firm, and moist fish handled the power and intensity of the jerk spice with ease, and the lively mango cilantro salsa was a refreshing and cooling diversion.

A simple New York Strip was taken to new levels of decadence when coupled with caramelised cherry tomatoes, red onions and plenty of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese that melted into a sauce, as it made contact with the perfectly grilled meat. Crispy asparagus and crushed baby potatoes rounded out this dish flawlessly.

A photograph of Dessert of Vanilla Cheescake with Berry topping at Ocean Club Plaza, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Dessert of Vanilla Cheescake with Berry topping

Don’t stop there. Dessert is Vanilla Cheesecake with berry topping, creamy yet firm. “Wow!” Or try the Dark and Decadent Chocolate Truffle Torte. “Like pate!”

The after dinner cocktail menu features specialty liqueur coffees, several martinis and a selection of grappa, rum, scotch and bourbon tasting flights. Now that’s my kind of travel.

Experience cuisine that is poetry for the palate, in a setting that is a feast for the eyes, at Opus.

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