Sharkbite Bar & Grill Turtle Cove, Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed November / December 2014
The Sharkbite Bar & Grill sits over the water at Turtle Cove Marina
Located in the southeast corner of the Bermuda Triangle, in the heart of Turtle Cove Marina, the Sharkbite Bar & Grill has been a long-time island favourite for almost two decades. Before the ‘big bang’ development of Grace Bay and before the explosion of condominium developments, resorts and hotels, Turtle Cove was the ‘it’ place to be and the social hub of Providenciales. Today you can still experience an authentic and nostalgic ‘taste’ of the early days. The native-stone construction is evocative of the time, and while the building’s been through a few transformations in the early years, it’s been firmly entrenched as the Sharkbite since 1995.
Inside, it’s an eclectic mix of sports memorabilia and shark paraphernalia. You can catch the latest game on the big screen TVs, throw some darts or try your luck in the Private Slots Parlour. Grab a bite in the airy, open dining area or out on one of the three waterfront decks overlooking the marina. The vibe is always relaxed and laid back. The deck extends 30 feet out over the water, so be on the lookout for fish, turtles and sharks. (We’ve spotted eight footers.)
Cracked Conch is a popular dish at Sharkbite Bar & Grill
The bar is a popular local watering hole and the bartender/raconteur is Keith Hawkins, a native of Grand Turk. He’s famous for his unique, unusual cocktails, including his Bambarra Mama with “extra Mama”. Keith is happy to regale you with countless tales and anecdotes from the early days.
“You’ve been here a long time”, we all said. He laughed and quipped, “Like furniture man, 17 years!” Animated and lively, he reminisced about the challenges of getting to the Sharkbite in the old days; when the road down into Turtle Cove was so bad it was called Ooh Aah Hill. “When you go down its ooh-aah, ooh, aah!” he gesticulated wildly.
The Sharkbite menu is massive. It’s the ultimate feeding frenzy, featuring local fare and international favourites you can really sink your teeth into. There’s plenty of ‘bait’ that’s certain to appease and tease even your finickiest Little Biter.
Keith shares the secrets to the Sharkbite success. “Most of our staff have been anchored down and embedded. It’s the consistency of the food. If that changes, the regular customers know immediately. People come straight off the plane. Before they leave the island they have their last meal here too.”
That menu is what keeps ‘em coming back. It hasn’t changed much over the years. Shark-themed puns abound, from Nibbles to Big Bites. A very original Wing Menu sports 19 different recipes all prepared by Chef Jack and Chef Madson, originally from Haiti.
First up, the menu claims the Conch Chowder is the “Island’s Best”. Eager to put theirs to the taste test I questioned our server Simone, who immediately corroborated, “Yes Ma’am!” and I ordered it. Cream-based, rich and stick-to-your-ribs thick, it was brimming with tender pieces of conch, potatoes, carrots and celery with a marvelous, smoky taste and aroma.
The Sharkbite’s Signature Dish is their Almond Encrusted Grouper
The Sharkbite takes their Nacho Frenzy to two dimensions, small or large. This serving of sizeable magnitude was apparently the small. The large must be simply scandalous. When I asked my fellow diner what toppings were on his nachos, we quickly agreed that the more appropriate question was “What’s NOT on your nachos?” A solid and substantial foundation of crispy tortilla chips were smothered beyond recognition with olives, tomatoes, jalapeños, ground beef and heaps of cheese.
The Onion Rings were absolutely outrageous. Colossal in size and flavour, a fabulously crunchy beer batter enveloped the tender onion ‘rings’. We were powerless to resist these lip-smacking and deliciously decadent rings. Within moments the entire basket was swiftly and efficiently devoured without a trace.
Always on the lookout for something different, I was intrigued when I spotted the Firecracker Conch in the Conch Corner. Think Cracked Conch on fire. Simone was right on when she warned, “Just to let you know, it’s spicy.” She suggested I take the ‘heat’ on the side, which was ideal for regulating the degree of intensity. The yogurt lime dip was the ideal condiment, cooling and complementary.
A tart, creamy and smooth Key Lime Pie is a Sharkbite favourite dessert
Steak Bites were another interesting twist on appetisers; bite-size cubes of NY Strip steak that were marinated, grilled then pan-fried and served with a Ranch dressing for dipping.
At Sharkbite, enjoy your salad as an appetiser or supersize to the full portion for your main meal. Six salads are on offer, including a Blackened Chicken Pasta Salad and a Jerk Chicken Pineapple Salad. My favourite dining companion was lured by the Grilled Portabella Salad, a delicious combination of textures and tastes. She raved over the wonderful contrast of warm, grilled Portabella together with the refreshingly cool, creamy buffalo Mozzarella and the deliciously savoury balsamic vinaigrette.
The Sharkbite’s Signature Dish, Almond Crusted Grouper, is legendary. This dish put them on the map. The delicate filet of grouper is encrusted with almonds and served on a coconut rum and curry cream sauce. It’s a long-time favourite of my fellow diner who crooned, “I love the crunchiness of the almonds … very moist inside.” Snapper Tropical is another popular fish dish that features sautéed snapper and a pineapple-red pepper glaze.
An evening special of Lobster Thermidor was an unexpected menu surprise. I took the bait and was duly rewarded with a delectable catch - an abundance of tender chucks of succulent lobster drenched in a light and delicate sweet mango cream sauce beautifully served in the shell. It was a feast for the eyes and the palate.
Sharkbite Bartender Keith Hawkins is famous for his unique cocktails
Choose from BBQ Chicken or Slow-Roasted Ribs or get the best of both worlds with the Chicken & Ribs Combo, smothered in your choice of spicy Chipotle BBQ sauce or a zesty and flavourful BBQ sauce. The ribs were tender and juicy and smothered in a finger-lickin-good Chipotle BBQ sauce. The BBQ Chicken was equally tender and moist, with an equally salacious and sensational BBQ sauce.
Fish & Chips is another Sharkbite classic and the Wednesday night Fish & Chip Special is an institution. Tonight’s three generous pieces of grouper were enveloped in a crispy and delicious batter, served with traditional trimmings of fries, coleslaw and tartare sauce.
And there’s more … Nibbles and More Nibbles, Big Bites, custom quesadillas, a sandwich menu including the Sharkbite Burger and the Grouper Rueben, a Sharkbite original and another house specialty, Curry Fish Tacos. There’s also a create-your-own pasta menu and an All Day English Breakfast … we barely scratched the surface.
Key Lime Pie is the Sharkbite’s most popular dessert; it is tart, creamy, smooth and delicious. While a few of our consortium indulged in liquid libations of Irish Coffee made with Jameson, I circled back to the Premium Frozen Cocktail Menu and took great pleasure in a Café Latte Toasted Almond with Vodka, Amaretto and Kahlua.
Next time you’re ‘trawling the waters’, looking for a great place to eat and have a good time – head to the Sharkbite.
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