Seventy-Twoº West Providenciales, Turks and Caicos IslandsReviewed May / June 2016

A photograph of Seventy Two Degrees West at The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Caicos Conch Chowder

By Mandy Rostance-Wolf

THE SUN WAS JUST ABOUT TO SET AS WE ARRIVED. On any other day, a stroll through The Palms would be done at a snail’s pace, pausing to take in the opulence and grandeur of the Bahamian coral stone architecture, evocative of centuries old Great Houses. The courtyard is beautifully landscaped with towering date palms, stately Poinciana trees and a profusion of colour from Bougainvillea blossoms. The promenade of fashionable and stylish boutiques along Palm place usually tempt and tease a little window-shopping, but we knew we had to pick up the pace if we were going to make Mother Nature’s nightly show. We stopped briefly to admire a night heron who had just landed on the edge of the infinity fountain to take pleasure in his version of Happy Hour.

We reached Seventy-Twoº West with a few moments to spare. The pool die-hards were still lounging in the spectacular serpentine infinity pool enjoying the last vestiges of another day in paradise, and the tropical scent of sunscreen still hung in the air. Time seemed to shift gears into slow motion, as we watched the sun descend and suddenly vanish behind the rolling peaks of Blue Hills. My husband turned to me and smiled and said, "This just never gets old."

Seventy-Twoº West is located just behind, or just in front of, Plunge Bar, depending on your perspective. Elegantly appointed tables are scattered just behind the dunes on a massive deck, together with inviting sofas and fire pits with dazzling blue fire glass rocks. There was a definitive chill in the air, but I’m referring to the vibe, not the ambient temperature.

It’s a "Caribbean-inspired menu full of favourites – chilled, grilled and filled with flavour – along with cooling drinks and tempting cocktails."

Executive Chef Lauren Callighen acted as our culinary compere this evening. I dubbed Chef Lauren a ‘culinary maven’ years ago. A moniker she has truly earned, she is a veritable connoisseur and expert in her discipline. Creatively and technically, she is a force to be reckoned with and has brought a feminine savvy to this male-dominated field. Case in point? The Palm’s ultimate fine dining experience, Parallel23. She accepts accolades modestly, repeatedly insistent on directing attention and compliments to her entire team, including Head Chef, Andrea Del Campo.

A photograph of Seventy Two Degrees West at The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Coconut Fried Lobster

An après sunset Palms D’Or cocktail tasted like paradise in a glass. Cool and refreshing with Gold rum, Coconut rum, muddled mint, passionfruit, pineapple and champagne.

And to nibble on, a plate of finger lickin’ good ‘planks’ of grilled focaccia were served with EVOO and balsamic for dipping, dunking and devouring.

We kicked off this island-inspired feast with Caicos Conch Chowder. An award-winning sweet corn and saffron cream-based chowder, garnished with crispy bacon and fresh cut green onion tops. The tender kernels of sweet corn added great texture and burst in your mouth. Lauren acknowledged our wholehearted appreciation for this classic dish with a smile and said, "It’s a big bowl of love. It’s our famous conch chowder. We’ve been serving it the same way for years."

This next dish was addictive, an outright guilty pleasure and my new favourite way to enjoy lobster, Coconut Fried Lobster. Those are three of my favourite words. Served with a "pleasantly piquant" Bambarra Gold rum and mustard sauce that packed just the right heat, the batter had just a hint of coconut, but a huge amount of crunch that gave way to the most tender, succulent lobster chunks. Slices of mango, cucumber, tomato and a few greens added a light acidity and balance to this dish.

A photograph of Seventy Two Degrees West at The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Baby Spinach Salad

A salad of Baby Spinach was given high marks for its fresh and delicious simplicity. Tender baby spinach leaves, slices of mango and red onion were tossed in a lively ginger and orange dressing, with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. With the Sultan of Spinach Salads across the table, we looked to him for his decree. A definitive thumbs-up followed by, "It’s a hit … very exotic tasting."

A bright-tasting salad of Alaskan king crab meat dressed in a citrus and herb vinaigrette is one of Lauren’s favourites. Served on a bed of peppery arugula and grapefruit segments, this was a celebrated fusion of peppery and citrus elements.

Chef Lauren shares our passion for wine, and was eager to introduce the 72West Wine List and make mention of their in-house sommelier, Shawn LaRue, originally from Napa, California. It’s a thoughtfully conceived list that also features a great by-the-glass program. "Sean is always evolving it and we’re always looking for the next thing," Lauren added.

We continued to listen attentively and smiled knowingly as she began to sing the praises of La Crema Pinot Noir. This fabulous wine was no stranger to our palates. This evening’s 2013 vintage was from Monterey County. So incredibly easy to drink, I have heard it affably called a ‘hammock wine.’ Its bright, fruit-forward profile and silky, supple and creamy mouth-feel won over every palate and every plate.

A photograph of Seventy Two Degrees West at The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Jerked Roasted Chicken Breast

The Entrée Menu includes Grilled to order Prime Meats and Fresh Fish with some great sides and sauces, like Truffle Baked Mac & Cheese, Caribbean Dirty Rice & Beans, Steamed Garden Vegetables, and Garlic Sautéed Mushrooms. Sauces include a House Style Steak Sauce, Garlic Drawn Butter, Red Wine Demi-Glace, and a fierce Chimichurri. There’s also a few pasta selections, a Jerk Spiced Chicken Breast and Curried Coconut Stewed Conch that, fortuitously, is always in season.

Opposites attract and the mild and mellow flavours of a home-grown fillet of Caicos Snapper got an incredible jolt of flavour, complements of a heady and powerful Chimichurri sauce. With Argentinian origins, this fabulously zesty and garlicky green sauce would be equally delicious with steak or chicken. Served on the side, this captivating condiment packed a palatable fire, igniting our taste buds with an inferno of flavour.

A photograph of Seventy Two Degrees West at The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Caicos Snapper

‘Jerk’ is a mainstay island spice blend, and there are as many variations as there are foods to jerk. This evening’s Jerk Spiced Roasted Chicken Breast was absolutely flavourful with an appetising and mouth-watering heat. Keep it indigenous with Caribbean Dirty Rice & Beans, and an amazing charred sweet corn succotash. Jerk sauce is served on the side to add at your pleasure.

This past lobster season has seen a surge of sensational new lobster pasta creations on island menus, including 72West’s Caicos Lobster Pasta. Here, utterly tender morsels of Caicos lobster, roasted red peppers and baby spinach were tossed in a shockingly rich and flavourful garlic cream sauce. The extra-large tubes of penne pasta were the perfect conduit, trapping all the fabulous delicacies inside. Chef Lauren called it "pretty decadent," I called it, outrageous perfection.

A photograph of Seventy Two Degrees West at The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Caicos Lobster Pasta

The Truffle Baked Mac & Cheese should also be classified as outrageous. A sophisticated, decadent and extravagant twist on a comfort classic.

Desserts are as refreshing to the eyes as they are to the palate. Treat your taste buds to Raspberry Charlotte – a rich and creamy raspberry Bavarian cream; Black Forest Mousse Cake – a chocolate-lover’s delight with a white and dark chocolate cherry mouse; a Blueberry Parfait with blueberry compote and lemon cheesecake; and a selection of flavour-charged sorbets and ice creams.

A photograph of Seventy Two Degrees West at The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Blueberry Parfait

Set your GPS to Seventy-Twoº West. Perhaps still one of Provo’s secret gems. But not for long.

Photography by Lisa Adara Photo

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