One of my missions while in St. Maarten was to enjoy as much island delicacies as possible. I wanted frozen drinks with every meal, fresh seafood as often as possible, and flavors bursting off every taste bud. My vision was that I’d have to try different places on the island to satiate my cravings, but 9 times out of 10 we’d opt for Azul Restaurant.
Azul is the restaurant exclusive to Sonesta Ocean Point Resort that overlooks Maho Bay, and sits on the edge of a cliff. It’s thematic blue and white is accented by the clear blue-green of the waters, with the clean, yet opulent design boding well against the rough, cavernous surroundings. And as picturesque as that may sound, or even be from the photos snapped, the food quickly stole the show.
The menus are changed every day, and on occasion throughout the week, you might see a tried and true favorite to order. But trust me you won’t want to. You’ll want to order one of everything just to gain a sense of the myriad of flavors Chef Philippe is capable of producing. From the grilled lobster tail drizzled in the perfect amount of sauce for sopping, slabs of meat cooked to sliced-like-butter perfection, to even the simple basket of bread. [Bread is the tell all of every meal. Don’t believe me? Read what I said about The Peninsula.] Uggghhhh, every time we returned to our room, or spent a day away, I’d ask Anne, “Are we going to be back in time for Azul?” “What do you think they’ll be serving tonight?” It truly became an obsession of discovering what else he was able to create.
Then the day came that he introduced me to Johnnycakes with ackee and salt fish [Anne really told me to try it, Chef Philippe cooked it]. That was the day I knew I’d been deprived of truly enjoying food. This is a bit melodramatic only if you’ve never had Johnnycakes with ackee and salt fish. I didn’t know what I was eating, I’d never heard of it, but my senses were in serious overdrive. Everyone I encountered from that meal on was accosted with my ramblings on this new discovery. So much so, that a taxi driver made me a batch and dropped it off the following morning just as a kindness. Which speaks volumes, because of the many places I’ve dined around the world, no place has created a dish so memorable that it has yet to leave my mind.
Listen. I lived in France and the only meal I can remember with absolute clarity was a dish my host mum made on my first night there. And that’s because it was my first night living in France!
::Throws arms up in the air and sighs::
And drinks. I’m very picky about drinks. I don’t like milky liquids à la Kahlua, Baileys, or creamer. Disgusting. Anything frozen is a win. Shaved ice is like offering me Prince Charming on a rose gold platter. Seriously, don’t try offering me a margarita on the rocks. Tequila and sours mixed together, dumped over ice is reason to passively aggressively push things off tables, and demand a refund. Luckily, frozen drinks have been mastered at Azul, actually Sonesta Maho Beach as a whole has, so no one ever witnessed 5-year-old Tillie. Every drink was blended to icy perfection. The bartenders could literally turn anything into a frozen drink. One day while chatting with the Food and Beverage Director, Linden, I ordered a frozen blend of mango and lemon. He was so intrigued by it he placed an order and even complimented me on the new concoction. Anne coined it “Tillie’s Tango”… so when you visit, make sure to put in your order. You won’t be disappointed. Trust.
They do have an extensive list of international wines for those who prefer a Pinot Noir to a frozen rum punch, [Who would though?!] and are also the go-to for 24-hour room service along with being open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 3AM frozen drinks? Yes, please!
Now if I could only figure out how to return to this place.