I do not even know where to begin. My Fiancé and I decided to take an engagement moon/5 year anniversary/1 year until our wedding trip to St. Maarten/St. Martin for the first time. Not knowing much about traveling to this island we stayed in Philipsburg (Dutch side). I did some research about where to dine in the island and found out that Grand Case is the "culinary" area and that L'Auberge Gourmande was in a class of its own.
- Food: My fiancé and I are well traveled and dine is very fine restaurants. I must say that this restaurant is the best restaurant we have ever eaten in. The staff welcomed us with a delicious glass of champagne on the house (great touch and set the tone for a lovely, romantic meal). We also ordered a class of white wine that was very fruity. We started off with a caesar salad (no anchovies) and my fiancé had sautéed shrimp and pineapple served in a crispy basket with mesclun salad and mango vinaigrette. Both were excellent choices! For our main meal, I ordered the home-made vegetables and mushrooms raviolis, accompanied by a smooth white butter sauce which in addition came with eggplant stuffed with mozzarella cheese, broccoli with a garlic whip cream, zucchini with a red cabbage puree and a stuffed tomato. The combinations of all of these items were phenomenal. My fiancé loves scallops and ordered a shrimp and scallop risotto that was also great. It seemed like he was ready to lick the plate and was "saving the scallops for last, his dessert of the meal". Of course we both got actual dessert as well. My fiancé ordered an espresso (which he commended them on) and the chocolate delight which is chocolate mousse and creme brulee inside. I ordered the "concerto" which is white chocolate mousse, hot baked fondant, and iced dark chocolate drizzled with hibiscus coulis sauce that melted in my mouth. Both were great, I would definitely try either! Oh, I also forgot the complimentary shot of rum that came to our table after dessert (I did realize that this was sort of a standard in the island, well in the nicer restaurants at least).
We could not stop thinking about this restaurant so we came back for visit #2:
- We were welcomed with champagne again (which is funny because we went to another upscale french restaurant and only the individuals who spoke french were given a complimentary glass of champagne). I again started with a caesar salad no anchovies and my fiancé got a scallop special to start. I chose to have wine and my fiancé did not because he wanted to make sure nothing was influencing how amazing he thought the food was from visit #1. For our main dish, I felt like having a pasta primavera with a french twist and it was not on the menu but there was no discussion as to if they would make it or not. They made a light garlic/oil/cream sauce with delicious homemade pasta and vegetables that was very filling and delicious, my fiancé was even eating it when I was full. This evening my fiancé ordered the chilean sea bass which was recommended from the waitress and he said he liked the scallops better but the sauce that the sea bass was in was delicious and he said he wanted to dip everything into it. He would order both dishes again. For dessert, I ordered the chocolate mousse and creme brulee dish that my fiancé got during visit one and he ordered it again as well. Again, we were also given two shots of rum after dessert.
-Staff: An empty glass, plate or bread basket did not sit on our table for more than 30 seconds. What was so impressive about the professional staff was they were so quiet and elegant about removing the items it did not interrupt the conversations you were having or make you awkwardly stop talking. The staff was very attentive, accommodating and friendly.
- Travel: We took a taxi recommended through our hotel that overcharged us (the fare is $25 but he told us $30) and also said he would be back at 9:00 to take us back and showed up at 8:30 in the middle of dinner to tell us he needs his money and someone else will come get us. The reason I include this is because the taxi never showed up and the staff at L'Auberge Gourmande called several taxi companies for us until they found someone to take us home. Furthermore, the staff would not let us go into the taxi until they checked with the driver to make sure it was the person they called. They truly cared about our safety and security.
- I recommend sitting inside, it is a beautiful, old creole home that has such charm you really get so taken in to the setting it is surreal.
- Make a reservation, the first night we probably could have gotten in without one but the second time was very very busy. Do not jeopardize not getting in! I feared to go to another restaurant in Grand Case because I was sure it would not compare.
- Tips are not accepted on credit cards (which is common there).
- There is a service charge so if you are from the US tipping is not exactly the same. Generally speaking, in Europe they round up to the next whole number or maybe a little more. We ended up doing 15% just because we were so pleased.
- They will give you a "passport" card which offers you to dine at their sister restaurants and get stamps and then you will get a free bottle of rum like they are serving after dessert. I did not want to try the other restaurants. The reviews were nothing compared to this restaurant.
- Since dining at this restaurant nothing else can compare.
- Save room in your trip for a second visit!!!!!!
I cannot say enough about this restaurant!!!!! This restaurant was so great that I would travel to St. Martin again just to eat here....Looking forward to returning!
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