24 June 2013

Anguilla: Veya and a Day at the Beach

Our pre-dinner sunset
There are three fine dining restaurants on Anguilla that never disappoint: Mango's (where we always eat on our first night back on the island and where we go for lovely seafood), Straw Hat (where we have our first breakfast and where we go for a more casual fine dining), and Veya. Veya we save for the most special occasions.

Thus it was on Friday night that we found ourselves heading toward Sandy Ground for our anniversary dinner at Veya. Because it is a little inland, they don't try to compete with the settings of the various beachfront restaurants but rather have cultivated a lovely ambience all their own: lush, green, and soothing. It is unique among Anguilla's restaurants for its menu, too.

We calculated that our anniversary dinner was our tenth visit to Veya (and this is only our seventh visit to Anguilla, mind you) and have sampled most of the menu by now and it has all been excellent.  Add in the good cocktail menu and the welcoming service and you've got a pretty hard place to beat.

I almost forgot to take a picture of the chowder!
Though I usually opt for two small plates, I surprised myself by ordering the jerk spiced tuna with a rum espresso sauce, and DH surprised me by ordering the poached lobster with spinach risotto.  I started with the Sandy Hill cocktail, which is Veya's rendition of a grapefruit margarita, and it was great, and our server brought us an amuse bouche of sweet corn chowder. There was a little cilantro in it, but not enough to bother me, and then came the johnny cakes (Amelie, one of our servers, was sweet enough to box up a couple for us along with our uneaten pumpkin bread).

DH's poached lobster

My tuna dish
I am not a big fan of lobster, so I wasn't surprised when I was little more than indifferent to DH's dish, but he raved that it was the best lobster he'd ever had.  I did like the spinach risotto, though. Mine, however, was amazing. The tuna is jerk spiced, but served on a slice of pineapple which absorbs the spiciness in wonderful and unexpected ways. Then there's the tuna, perfectly cooked, then a compote of some sort that was redolent of caramelized onions, then a slice of fire roasted red pepper, topped with a couple of fried plantain chips for texture.  The rum-espresso sauce tied everything together. It was, in a word, perfect.

We lingered for a while after dinner while we debated dessert.  Again, I surprised myself by being drawn to one of their chocolate-laden desserts--I usually tend to the fruity desserts when I get my druthers. I selected the chocolate hazelnut mousse bars, served with malted chocolate ice cream with an espresso anglaise.  I think it was the hazelnuts and the malted parts that drew me in.  It was very good and I did mange to eat half of it before giving up.  I suspect that anybody who lives and dies by chocolate would find it divine.

The hazelnut chocolate mousse bars
Usually we stay at table with a nice sipping rum, but we were still pretty tired from our long day of travel the day before, so we went home to get rested for our next big day at the beach.

Caribella provides chairs and umbrellas
After breakfast at home on the patio, we decided to stay close to home for the rest of the day and set up camp under the sea grapes on Barnes Bay.  My feelings about Barnes Bay are rather like Elizabeth Bennet's for Mr. Darcy: the first time I saw it back in 2009, I was unimpressed.  I'd been hearing raves about it from people like Nori but walked away decidedly underwhelmed. But then I actually stayed on Barnes Bay, and that was the beginning of a love affair.  Now I'm passionate about Barnes and its character--it may not be quite as handsome as the more fabled stretches of sand on this island, but that's fine by me.  It gives me seclusion, a great sunset view, and my own private swimming cove.

Note the hoards of people
My private swimming cove
Even with Viceroy, the largest resort on the island, right there, we rarely see other people in front of Caribella.  When we do, it's usually a couple walking the beach in the early morning or late afternoon.

Breakwater being constructed at Viceroy

Sand has eroded from the beach immediately next to Viceroy, leaving behind these rocks.
Thus it was that we had another perfect day of reading, walking the beach, and dipping into the swimming cove to cool off. I finished two books that day, which definitely counts as a success in my, er, book.  We stayed in for dinner that night, cooking up some grilled cheese (me) and omelet (DH), then settled in for the night to play some card games.  The bugs were a little too pesky for sitting outside after dusk, so we played indoors with our three sliding doors and various windows open to catch the breeze. We also availed ourselves of the kitchen blender where I concocted a yummy banana/ mango/ passionfruit rum drink. 

Stay tuned for breakfast at Geraud's and another taxing day at the beach, in this case, Rendezvous. 

Some beautiful post-sunset color, seen from our balcony at Caribella


  1. Beautiful sunset photos. Sounds like you are having a wonderful trip so far. Glad to hear Veya delighted you both.
    Am looking forward to sharing your next days in paradise.

  2. Another joy to read. Your writing about Barnes Bay reminded me of a dinner at Mango's before sunset once; we watched a little boy staying at Caribella playing in the rocks. He had that entire beach to himself as far as the eye could see. I remember thinking what a wonderful playground he had. Rocks, sand, surf, and no crowds of people. Looks tranquil in your photos too.
    Looking forward to the next installment...

    1. Emily – the food at Veya looks and sounds divine. I am glad to hear Amelie is still there, she is one of the nicest gals on the island. I used to see her at Johnno’s once in a while – always a sweetheart.
      Are the barges still there? They were supposed to be finished by the end of June, but when we were there in April, the work had stopped.
      Barnes Bay looks really good – most sand I have seen in a long time.
      Thank you for your time, it is always such a pleasure to read your posts.

    2. Yes, Amelie is very sweet. The barges ARE still here, and though they've only been noisy for two days, they are quite the eyesore. I hope Viceroy is giving their guests a HUGE discount for compensation.

      I'll do photos of all of the Barnes Bay stuff, good and bad, in a separate report. Or at least, that's my plan for now.

  3. Hey Em - any good snorkeling??? :-) Melanie

    1. Haven't gone snorkeling yet, but probably tomorrow. Anguilla's isn't nearly as good as Virgin Gorda's! Wish you could be here--we just love it!

  4. I love your dining adventures!

    1. Boy, howdy, I can't wait to blog about the chef's tasting menu at Veya. Coming up later this week or next.


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