09 Dec Anguilla Beach Bar: Nat’s Palm Grove
At the end of a bumpy, dirt road, windswept and lined with high grass, the odd grazing cow greeting you on your way in, you will find Nat's Palm Grove. A worn, wooden sign assures that this is "where happiness awaits you." And, happiness indeed awaits you at the end of the paradisiacal-bound stretch.
Owned by Nat Richardson, this barebones, brightly painted, ramshackle restaurant is an institution on the tiny island of Anguilla. Set on Junk's Hole, a quiet bay that's part of the larger, wilder Savannah Bay, the location feels remote. All sandy beach with palm trees gently swaying overhead and a still bay out front, the setting is idyllic for beginner snorkelers and those simply wanting to lounge undisturbed, tucked away from any "hub-bub."
Barefoot or in flip flops, with the sea just beyond wooden-framed windows, the breeze blows through, the sound of the ocean soothing all tensions. Sit and chat with Nat, a genuinely kind man, a salt of the earth Anguillian with natural wisdom unparalleled. Often with his wife (Ethne) or son (Theon) at his side, family-owned, their restaurant is run with passion.
What's on the menu? Good old fashion Anguillian cooking done excellently.
There's the traditional grilled chicken and ribs, snapper, Anguillian crayfish, lobster, a variety of salads and Johnny cake sandwiches. Go for the grilled crayfish. They are delivered daily, straight from the fisherman's net, often still squirming!
Not to be confused with the popular Louisiana-style "crawfish," crayfish are native to Anguilla's waters. A smaller version of the Caribbean spiny lobster, crayfish are far more succulent.
Grilled to perfection, Nat bathes them in his "secret sauce." A blend of onions and with a hint of coconut, this recipe is one Theon has been working on for years. What's in it exactly? He will never tell.
Don't forget to top your crayfish with Nat's homemade pepper sauce, a bottle of which you may purchase. All entrees come with fresh-made coleslaw, thick, hand-cut fries and Johnny cakes. Served piping hot, direct from the fryer, they are crisp on the outside, fluffy, soft and warm on the inside. Many hail them as the best on the island.
Naturally, the meal would not be complete without one of Nat's famous rum punches. A couple of these and it's back to the beach for a rum-induced snooze.
From the beach, to the company, to the food and drink, this is one Caribbean-culinary experience that must be experienced by all.