It was raining cats and dogs when I lurched out of my taxi and spilled into the lobby of Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort & Spa. I attempted to brush off the pitter patter of rain, which had collected on my shoulders before my elevator chirped, doors springing open before yours truly skipped forward in search of dinner.
Bermuda’s only French restaurant serves up a warm and inviting combination of island flavour and classic French cooking. Beau Rivage is an upscale, waterfront eatery with an al fresco patio and extensive menu that’s very ooh-la-la. In the dining room a pretty pot of lavender sits on each table while dreamy Manet prints hang from the wall, allowing one to quickly slip into a carefree French mood.
I hop up at the bar and moments later find myself sipping through my 20th (or so) Dark n Stormy. A gaggle of American golf journalists arrive just as a string of petite seafood cornette’s are placed before us. An attempt to amuse our mouths via delightful selection of wee ice cream cones stuffed with whispers of olive tapenade, salmon mousse and hearty crab.
Dinner that evening would be served ever so intimately in Chef Jean-Claude’s kitchen. We tucked in to a round table which sat a stones throw from dangling pots and pans. The wall had been covered in a blown up poster which featured a classic image of Provence: an old brick building facade featuring lush ivy and window sill teaming with potted plants.
Chef Jean-Claude Garzia was born and raised in France, where he received his culinary training. His career took him all over the world, landing him in Canada in 1976. “It was very cold over there,” he remembers. “Then some French chef said, ‘Come to Bermuda.’ So I said, ‘Why not?’” More than 30 years later, Jean-Claude couldn’t be happier with his decision. “I own my own place, and I’m very pleased. The Bermudians have a way of treating people – they’re very friendly. And now I’m representing Bermuda. It’s now my home.”
Chef Garzia welcomed us to his kitchen by first popping open a bottle of rose champagne, bubbles dancing on our tongues as he introduced his menu for the evening. The gent was such a gem, crafting a menu especially for us that featured an authentic taste of place while finessing each plate with French gusto.
The first plate which arrived at the table was unfamiliar to me. Locally known as a Guinea Chick, the tiny lobster had been grilled, split in two and served in the style of Casino Royal. I poked my fork into the green slathered flesh and my eyes bulged as the perfectly cooked meat slipped past my lips. I had never encountered a lobster so soft and creamy, I even remarked at the table that it felt as though a part of the guinea chicks flesh once heated had melted into a creamy béchamel.
We waded deeper into the sea via seared Atlantic scallop which arrived wrapped in zucchini ribbon and propped on a bed of mousseline potato. The plate popped with panache as slivers of sweet tomato flecked with sharp garlic sat wallowing in nutty EVOO. For a gent who doesn’t typically rave about seafood I was pleasantly surprised as a third dish inspired by Bermuda’s offshore bounty disappeared moments after being placed under my nose. A simply prepared Bermuda Rock Fish Canon sat softly on a puddle of champagne cream. The melt-in-your-mouth fish offered a subtle sweetness which was made all the more addictive through the kitchens enthusiastic use of butter.
A lemon and vodka sorbet signalled our approach to land, perfectly executed as tender angus beef tenderloin which sat wrapped in flaky puff pastry, topped with bermuda garden herbs and resting on crispy potato rosti.
Our French feasts finale highlighted the islands locally grown loquat, a tart plum-like fruit which Chef Garzia presented as a light, airy, chilled souffle served alongside lattice of spun sugar.
olive tapenade, salmon, crab
Grilled Guinea Chicks Facon Casino Royal
Pan Seared Atlantic Sea Scallops
tomato, garlic, lemon scented on bed of mousseline potato
Bermuda Rock Fish Canon
glazed with champagne sauce
Lemon and Vodka Sorbet
Angus Beef Tenderloin
golden pastry, crusted bermuda garden herbs, potato rosti
Chilled Loquat Souffle
bermuda gold liquor