15 July 2013

Straw Hat: Twice is Nice

Anguilla is one of those vacation places where, if you pay attention, you notice that you keep seeing the same families and couples around the island.  That group you saw at Elodia's on Saturday has expanded when you see them again for lunch at The Place later in the week.  The family of three whom you remember from breakfast at Geraud's because they, too, have their noses buried in their books (in fact the same one: Gulp by Mary Roach), you later notice trying stand-up paddling on Shoal Bay East.  The young couple from Cap Juluca's Blue, presumably honeymooners, are also having dinner at Veya on your last night.

And so it goes.  Anguilla is a pretty small island and the kind of people who vacation there are fairly likely to venture out beyond the confines of their resort or luxury villa to see some of it. I'm perpetually approaching strangers when I see them taking various permutations of photos and offering to take their collective photo so that nobody has to be left out of it, and it's an easy way to strike up a casual conversation: are you honeymooning? first time to the island? how do you like Anguilla? etc. It's about the level of interaction that I'm comfortable with most of the time on vacation.  I'm on Anguilla to escape all demands, save that of savoring the moment with my husband, whose presence I unfortunately but necessarily end up taking for granted during the year, due to the demands of my job. Anguilla time is Us Time, with capital letters.

What is unusual is that this year we really connected with one of those couples whom we met, and then kept on meeting around the island: Adria & JP.  After breakfasting with them one morning at Las Esquinas, we met up again with and spent an afternoon at The Place, and on another evening we decided to meet up for sunset drinks and dinner. At Straw Hat. One night after DH and I had gone there already.  That's right -- it's a fun enough place to do two nights in a row.

DH at the vestibule in Straw Hat 
The bar area at Straw Hat
DH and I arrived there early so that we could purchase a gift certificate for Ronnie Bryan and his new bride as a wedding present.  We explained that we were meeting friends who wanted to enjoy drinks and watch the sunset, then perhaps stay for dinner, but the restaurant was pretty full. Oh, no--the one time we show up with no reservation!  But Shane set us up with a primo table for cocktails while we waited for JP and Adria to join us.

We ordered a first round while we waited and made some photos, but the sunset just didn't look like it was going to provide much spectacle.  Luckily, our conversation flowed spontaneously and widely, flitting from topic to topic.

DH and JP: they clearly have the same barber
JP & Adria
Adria & me
After our drinks, we inquired with Shawn if there was a table in the back we could move to for dinner and he worked a little bit of magic to keep us at that front table for our meal.  We would have been quite happy to move, not having had a reservation, but that's just the kind of folks they have at Straw Hat. Instead we ordered another round of drinks while debating our order for the night.

A subdued sunset
Straw Hat is one of the few upscale places that features goat on the menu, and DH usually orders it, but our lunch was late that day, so we ordered modestly. JP tried the crispy snapper, Adria selected the warm tomato tart from the appetizer, I had the grilled snapper, and DH ordered the spring rolls, also from the appetizer menu. All of them were excellent, but I think JP and Adria won.

Crispy snapper
Warm tomato tart
Spring rolls
Grilled snapper with coconut rice and creamed spinach
It's impossible for me not to order the caramelized bananas, and JP & Adria apparently are constitutionally incapable of passing up on a creme brûlée when they see one.  Just to mix things up a little bit, I requested the salted caramel ice cream instead of the usual vanilla and it was wonderful. They said that they enjoyed their creme brûlée, too, and we lingered a long time over desserts and coffee until the night was no longer young. Doris, the wonderful manager, came by and chatted with us for a little while and then it was time for us to depart.

We eventually bid our new friends goodnight.  It was their last night on the island and they had an early departure the next day and we made our way back to Caribella.  We reflected that it was one of the nicest nights we've had on the island.
Straw Hat chandelier

They have lots of colorful tees for sale
Another eponymous hat lamp


  1. I would like ALL of that food please, thank you! ;)

  2. Yes, YUM on those meals, and awww about the 'repeating' families and couples. I love those fun connections made on vacation.

  3. Straw Hat has it all, a great staff, wonderful setting and terrific food. Chef Nick and his "sexy food" are a real treat. One place we never miss.
    You were lucky to get in on short notice Emily - Doris once told be they book up 3 months in advance!
    Thanks for another great post.

  4. Just had the pure pleasure of reading this batch of Anguilla posts! Thank you, and we can't wait to return for our 5th trip in January. Now I want to hear about that big stack of books on the counter in your Caribella apartment. Next time think you would enjoy the mahi BLT at Blanchards Beach Bar...


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