Waterlot Inn at Fairmont Southampton Bermuda

Bermuda was first settled in 1609, and shortly thereafter, in 1670, the Darrell family built The Waterlot Inn in the harbor of beautiful Jews Bay as a private home. The inn’s cellars were once used by seafarers for storage of their cargo from their vessels moored offshore. Traditionally passed to the eldest male in the family, the Waterlot Inn’s most famous owner broke gender convention, Miss Claudia Darrell (1869-1949). Claudia served as the postmistress of Southampton East after her father, James Thomas Darrell retired, using the Waterlot Inn’s carriage house as her home office. By the mid-1920s, Claudia had converted the home into an English-style tavern and years later, it became a full-service restaurant.

Claudia had long-eschewed typical gender stereotypes, tending to her father’s farm. She also collected and renovated antiques. Locals fondly remember her as socialite and a visiting journalist dubbed her as having “gusty humour” calling out to guests, “Come in and make yourself comfortable!”. She befriended visiting celebrities like Mark Twain, Eugene O’Neill, James Thurber, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Today, the Waterlot Inn at Fairmont Southampton celebrates its 300 year history by offering guests the finest steakhouse experience on the island.

After marching up the restaurants steps I was greeted by a charming bartender who motioned me to sit by a booming fire while sipping through my umpteenth Dark n Stormy. The space is filled with ancient antiques, elegant paintings and a romantic staircase which I suppose is a tip of the hat to Claudia’s own whimsy. Her enthusiasm for making guests feel right at home lives on, her ghost whispering through the smiles of the restaurants attentive staff.

Dinner that evening was a relaxing ordeal. I fell into my chair a tad exhausted from a busy day spent zig zagging across the island, finding that zen zone as wine splashed into my glass and menu unfolded in front of me. The Waterlot Inn is that special place you come to celebrate an anniversary, birthday, new job, or in my case, on an evening where one’s simply looking to dig into something decadent.

The show began with pomp and panache as flaming rum and sherry pepper sauce poured into a petite bowl of classic Bermudian fish chowder. After a quick sip I indulged in a perfectly seared wagyu striploin topped with confit tomato, adorned with soy caviar.

The French Onion Soup arrives at the table covered in a crusty casing, a medley of four cheeses which offer a playful, stringy mess while digging through to discover sweet veal broth muddled with caramelized onions. I ordered the plate of Beef Carpaccio not because I felt I needed more beef (heaven knows we would be digging into a massive steak later on) but because I couldn’t pass up on an opportunity to cut through buttery burrata.

I didn’t quite realize how excessively we were eating until a 20 oz “cowboy” ribeye topped with garlic shrimp and slathered in ginger beer sauce was placed gently at the centre of the table. I ensured our arteries clogged via butter and fromage enriched three cheese potato gratin which was served alongside a steaming ramekin stuffed with rich truffled mac & cheese.

By the time we had polished off savoury I urgently had to unclasp my belt in order to simply breath. Of course the marathon is not over until the fat lady whimpers so with gusto and perhaps a wee bit of pained enthusiasm I grabbed a tiny spoon to tackle a trilogy of sweets. And here is the lesson we take away today. All to often folks who dress up fancy to indulge in the romantic ritual of the steakhouse stuff themselves silly on the salty without putting much thought into pacing. While I might have been sporting a gut which read “gluttony” the kitchen’s pastry chef wow’d with steaming Sticky Toffee Pudding, an inventive homage to the Snickers Bar and pecan and marshmallow adorned signature Mud Pie. One waddles home from these sorts of races.

The Feast:

Amuse Bouche

fish chowder with goslings rum and sherry pepper + wagyu striploin with confit tomato and soy caviar

French Onion Soup

four cheese, veal broth, caramelized onions

Niman Ranch Beef Carpaccio

burrata, confit tomato, smoked sea salt

Roasted Baby Beet

goat cheese, candied peanuts, balsamic

Pan Seared Grouper

mango salsa, brussels sprouts with pancetta and brown sugar

Cowboy 20 oz Ribeye with Garlic Shrimp and Ginger Beer Sauce

three cheese potato gratin, truffled mac & cheese

Sticky Toffee Pudding

warm homemade toffee sauce, vanilla ice cream

Snickers Bar

peanut nougat, chocolate mousse, salted caramel

The Waterlot Inn Mud Pie

chocolate, pecans, marshmallow, smoked brown sugar

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