The Vix Bar & Grill Providenciales (Provo), Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed March / April 2016
In the Heart of Grace Bay enjoy al fresco dining at The Vix Bar & Grill
If you think you know The Vix … think again. Under new management, a lot has changed at this popular and trendy Grace Bay eatery.
General Manager, Ajay Vyas was our accomplished and attentive host this evening, and together with Chef de Cuisine Eion ‘Tiny’ Laird, they were both eager and enthusiastic to present, and flaunt, the ‘new’ Vix.
The venue is welcoming and familiar … an elegant sidewalk café ambiance. The architecture is evocative of the Mediterranean, with beautifully crafted stonework and captivating fountains.
Ajay began with the new menu. He emphasised the importance of featuring island influences in the dishes and preparing everything from scratch. “The menu – it’s not a complex menu, it’s accessible. People can easily find something they like,” he explained.
The Vix Bar & Grill's Grilled Eggplant with Ricotta Salad
He was also keen to promote their wine list. Rather than burden his guests with binders burgeoning with vintages, he invites his diners to enjoy their thoughtfully chosen and very reasonable wine list. This petite portfolio has no bottle of wine over $50 and several wines by the glass, also at an appealing price point. “I would rather have people enjoying wine – without thinking about it,” Ajay maintains.
Ajay proceeded to take our table on a veritable culinary tasting tour of the new menu, experiencing an abundance of dishes, perfectly paired with wines by the glass.
A popular, stand-out signature dish with eye-catching presentation, the Grilled Eggplant Salad was an engaging composition of rich and creamy ricotta cheese, a robust and flavourful balsamic drizzle and a sprinkling of balsamic pearls. Thanks to science, a.k.a. molecular gastronomy, these tiny, caviar-like beads of balsamic ‘pearls’ delightfully burst on your tongue.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad at The Vix Bar & Grill
An appetising Beet and Goat Cheese Salad had a wonderful, textural dimension, complements of the toasted pine nuts. Ajay explained that the beets are poached and steeped in apple juice to give them a sweeter flavour. Beets and goat cheese are a classic pairing, as was Ajay’s choice of the 2014 Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio, crisp, with bright acidity.
A ‘cup’ of Island Spiced Pumpkin Soup was incredibly thick and full of flavour. Served with a crispy Cheese Brittle stick on the side, this “warm and comforting” soup was unanimously celebrated for the palatable heat and the intense use of spice. It’s Tiny’s recipe that features cinnamon and Jamaican yellow curry powder. A glass of Danzante Prosecco was a delicately sweet and sophisticated coupling.
Next, a duo of pasta dishes – or perhaps ‘duelling pastas’ is more appropriate! You be the judge. First, Mushroom Ravioli with sage brown butter sauce. This fabulously creamy sauce, with concentrated brown butter flavours and a hint of lemon, clung to every surface of the ravioli pockets. Each savoury pasta pouch was bursting with an earthy, rich mushroom filling.
The Vix Bar & Grill's Spiced Pumpkin Soup is a local favourite
The Rasta Pasta features wonderful morsels of Tiny’s jerk chicken and spaghetti noodles tossed and smothered in a shockingly creamy and pleasurably spicy Jerk Sauce. Showcasing our own famous local hottie, scotch bonnet peppers, this bold and brazen dish was an out-and-out show and conversation stopper. A 2013 Louis Jadot Chardonnay, lively with refreshing acidity complemented the very rich sauce bases in both dishes.
Next, we took pleasure in a veritable trinity of fabulous fish courses and an unexpected surprise – an impressive and rather magnificent lamb shank. A 2013 Meomi Pinot Noir, one of Ajay’s favourites, and one of ours. A full-bodied wine with soft tannins, Meomi is always a crowd pleaser and an exceptionally food-friendly wine.
First up – a fantastic filet of Wild Canadian Salmon with a Tamarind Glaze on a sensational bacon and potato hash. The glaze is made from fresh tamarind soaked in jaggery. Pron. jag-uh-reey, an unrefined brown sugar made from Palm sap. It is popular in Indian culinary practices, and a healthy alternative to white sugar. Soaked overnight, strained and finished with seasonings, this intensely flavoured glaze was reminiscent of a tamarind reduction. Perfectly sweet and undeniably luscious.
Full of flavour The Vix Bar & Grill's Jerk Chicken Rasta Pasta
The Grilled Snapper was served with a savoury Island Salsa and crispy potatoes. Very fresh and tropical, with a hint of cilantro.
And finally, a filet of Blackened Grouper on a lovely pool of orange beurre-blanc. Light and bursting with bright citrus flavour, this butter sauce perfectly balanced the mellow heat of the blackened spice.
We all agreed that it is quite a culinary feat to put three different fish courses on the same plate and achieve triple success. “I love them all for their individuality,” my husband applauded. “Wait until you hit the lamb shank!” Ajay chuckled.
The lamb shank made quite an entrance, presented vertically, the table was momentarily spellbound. What followed was a resonating and heartfelt harmonisation of awe and accolades. “That’s a lovely looking shank,” I flattered, and immediately sprang across the table to seize a taste of the crispy onion topping. “It’s a serious piece of meat,” Ajay said with a facetious grin. It was slow cooked six hours and finished with a mustard-carrot demi-glace, garlic mash and those fabulous crispy onions.
The Vix Bar & Grill's Lamb Shank
Desserts were surprisingly delicate and practically weightless. These captivating confections included a White Chocolate Mousse Cake, with a tangy berry filling and a deliciously tart Passion Fruit Mousse on a light tasting banana bread. It was visually stunning, with a dusting of bright red dried passion fruit powder. And finally, homemade vanilla ice cream, refreshing and cool on the palate.
Ajay is as serious about his cocktails as he is about his wines, and offered his twist on a Rum Old-fashioned. Inspired by an Old-Fashioned he experienced in NYC, Ajay mixes his with Gosling Dark Rum, maraschino cherries muddled with two demerara sugar cubes, a slice of orange, bitters and, here’s his twist, topped with tonic. By drinking through the straw, I discovered the lovely, crunchy, sugar bits hiding on the bottom of the glass. “I’ve just been introduced to my new favourite drink!” my husband exclaimed.
Talk turned to Chef Tiny. Ajay laughed and said, “He makes everyone else look tiny. He’s a great hands-on chef.” There was no mistaking Tiny as he approached the table, navigating somewhat of an obstacle course, as he frequently paused, ‘ducking’ to clear overhead objects. With a smile as massive as his hands, he reached and introduced himself. My hand literally disappeared.
“Ah, Chef Tiny!” we all exclaimed. “That’s what they call me for some reason,” he teased. Originally from Jamaica, this jovial, larger-than-life persona has been on Provo for 16 years. “Where have you been?” we all quizzed. “Ajay’s been hiding me!” he joked. We all laughed and countered, “I can’t imagine you can be hidden!”
The chef’s favourite dish? Tiny’s Ribs. “I think I’ve perfected the ribs and the Jerk Chicken Pasta,” said Tiny. All heads began to instinctively nod in perfect unison, relishing the flavours still clear on our palates. Ajay added that the Jerk spice is Tiny’s recipe, “We make the jerk from scratch – we do everything from scratch.”
The chef’s favourite ingredient? Without hesitation Tiny replied, “I like spice.” “We saw that!” we all quipped. “In a good way!” we added. Tiny continued, “I really do love spice. I know I’m working for an audience, I have to keep it palatable. But when I’m cooking for me – flaming hot!!!! He went on to explain that the jerk spice is made of scotch bonnet peppers, molasses and turmeric, citing turmeric as one of the main ingredients. “It’s really not that difficult”, he said with an unpretentious grin. “You nailed it!” we said.
Need I say more? If you haven’t been to The Vix recently, you don’t know The Vix!
Photography by Lisa Adara Photo
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