The Landing Bar & Kitchen Providenciales (Provo), Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed March / April 2016
At The Landing Bar & Kitchen you can have a drink at the only “Boat” on Grace Bay Road
Nothing created more of a buzz and provoked more speculation than the recent opening of The Landing Bar & Kitchen on Grace Bay Road.
This ground-breaking (literally) and ingenious idea was the brainchild of owner/bartender Helene and chef Marc. “We had a load of concepts that we were thinking about,” Marc explained. But after taking a walk through a marina, the idea was born. “It would be cool to make a bar out of a boat,” Marc admitted. They started looking around the shipyards and found it sitting here in a local marina, damaged and abandoned after a hurricane. ‘It’ is My Super Lady, and her last voyage would take her to Grace Bay aboard a flatbed trailer. A big hole was dug and a crane gently dropped her into her final anchorage.
The mast of a sailboat, visible only above the camouflage of a construction barrier, baffled pedestrians and motorists for months. Curious glances and puzzled expressions caused everyone to stop, change course, and ‘come about’ to take another look, eager to find out what was going on.
Today, you can’t miss her. The setting is idyllic, and at the same time, avant-garde. Built almost exclusively in the sand, a central fire pit, rattan dining tables and sofa groupings engender a laid-back and relaxed ambiance.
A bar of this creative magnitude flaunts a Drink Menu just as imaginative and comprehensive and includes Daiquiris, Caipirinhas, Margaritas, Coladas, Mojitos, Martinis, Champagne Cocktails, Classic Cocktails, Shooters, non-alcoholic drinks and Smoothies.
A Trio of Pulled Pork Sliders with three different house sauces and homemade pickles
The menu is an appealing and diverse fusion of innovative, cosmopolitan dishes that feature many spices and flavours representative of Helene and Marc’s different backgrounds and where they have been around the world. Helene suggested a few dishes from the Bar Snacks & Starters Menu beginning with a Middle Eastern Sharing Platter. It included a very rich and flavourful baba ganoush (roasted eggplant dip), an utterly creamy hummus, savoury and aromatic olives, refreshing lemon carrots and plenty of crispy pita bread for dipping.
Also great for sharing, a Trio of Pulled Pork Sliders … or so I thought. Bigger-than-your-average pork sliders, there are three different signature house sauces and all of them are fabulous – pungent and piquant chipotle, tangy mustard, and an outstanding ‘you-should-bottle-this’ sweet and smoky BBQ sauce. One bite and my sharing etiquette went overboard. The homemade pickle was a surprise, and added a nice tang.
The Lobster Thermidor Bites were superb. Succulent chunks of our sweet local lobster were smothered in a creamy and velvety sauce. They had a great depth of flavour, with a subtle and delicate brightness of lemon, served with slices of crusty bread to soak up every last drop of that scandalously good sauce. Just a lasting and lingering culinary memory is all that remains. That, and a drop of wayward sauce in my notebook.
Lobster Thermidor Bites appetiser is served with crusty bread
Also on the Bar Snacks & Starters Menu, Spicy Shrimp Tapas with mango and fennel, a French Sharing Platter, and Chicken Wings prepared three different and delectable ways: spicy, tangy and seasoned with zesty za’atar – an incredible Middle Eastern spice blend.
The first leg of this evening’s journey was an undisputed success. While anticipating our main courses now en route, we savoured the big, bold style of a 2011 Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block, a full-bodied South African red blend, very fruit forward, with plenty of warm, spicy notes.
The Prawn & Scallop Skewers were spectacular, but read the fine print on the menu. We uncovered fabulous chunks of Spanish Chorizo nestled amidst those marvelous grilled prawns and scallops that added a decadent and deliciously dramatic dimension. A smooth, fresh-tasting, pea brulee was an absolutely delightful accompaniment, together with a zesty garlic, lime and chili butter. We later discovered that this dish came about by accident. Marc explained that lobster season closed just when they opened. “What can we do?” he said. This dish ended up being hugely popular and a runaway success.
The Ribs were outrageously good. Dry-rubbed, slow-cooked and smothered with that addictive sweet and smoky BBQ sauce. Served wet or dry, the meat simply fell off the bones of this gorgeous and generous rack. More on those later.
The Landing’s Prawn and Scallop Skewers are a favourite
The Crash Landing is what they call their “can’t decide” option. Basically, pile the best of the best, and pile it high – a slice of house sausage, pulled pork, and rib meat loaded on a bun with those tasty house pickles, slaw, BBQ sauce and fries.
The Fish Burger was fantastic. A deliciously seasoned, pan-seared grouper fillet was topped with a delicate and sweet coconut-mango sauce. A perfect complement to the fish, that didn’t overwhelm its mild qualities. On the side, a basket stuffed with a duo of, “I could live on these French fries,” fries. A to-die-for twosome, the conventional fries are seasoned with herbs and the deliciously unconventional sweet potato fries are drenched in Cajun spice. They all vanished in minutes in what seemed like a perfect storm.
That to-die-for twosome of fries is also served with Vegetable Heaven – a cumin-infused flatbread topped with grilled vegetables and homemade pesto. Mains also feature a Pulled Pork Bun, Chorizo Burger, Lobster Tail* (in season) and Steak Stack – thin-cut and tender grilled steak, suffused in herb butter.
*During the Lobster season get your fix of Lobster Tails at a special price on “Lobster Mondays!”
The Crash Landing is piled high with sausage, pulled pork and rib meat
After tucking into some hearty cuisine this evening, we took great pleasure in light desserts of house-made ice creams, which included white chocolate, rose water with a baklava syrup, and chocolate with passionfruit raspberry coulis.
Make your stopover at The Landing a round-trip and return to the Drink Menu to choose from many dessert appropriate cocktails. I sipped on a tantalising Chinese Martini made with house-infused lemon vodka, while my hubby indulged in a decadent Chocolate Martini made with house-infused vanilla vodka.
As we ranted and raved over the smoked meats, Marc confessed, “I like BBQ. I really like to smoke all the meat. I make all the sauces.” The pulled pork takes 24 hours marinating time and 16 hours in the smoker. Ribs are also marinated 24 hours with another 7 or 8 hours in the smoker. “The ribs are great!” my fellow diner gushed and applauded. Marc smiled and said, “It takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it.” Marc went on to explain why they chose to make their own sauces and dressings. “We don’t like a lot of the store-bought stuff – the corn syrups, the starches, and things that you can’t identify on the label. We make our own – more homey, more fresh.”
Quite an enigma in her static and illuminated splendour, I found myself locked in a gaze with My Super Lady, compelled to ponder where she may have sailed, and which far flung and exotic ports she may have visited. And as we chatted over this memorable and unique dining experience, I couldn’t help but think that Helene and Marc must have a love for sailing that prompted me to ask if they had been sailors before. With an emphatic and wholehearted laugh Marc replied, “No! Never owned a boat – never sailed!” A wave of laughter flooded the table, as we considered the humour and irony of that.
Photography by Lisa Adara Photo
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