The Vix Bar & Grill Reviewed January / February 2011
In the Heart of Grace Bay enjoy al fresco dining at The Vix Bar & Grill
I look upon every dining experience as an adventure... an escapade of the epicurean variety, where tastes and flavours can transport your thoughts and your palate to exotic and far flung destinations. If you’re dining at THE VIX, I guarantee that you are in for a wild and exciting gastronomic ride! Executive Chef Steven Dray has been around the proverbial block... from the classic and traditional kitchens of Scotland, England and France to the mysterious and intoxicating kitchens of India and Abu Dhabi to Ontario’s northern resort playground for the rich and famous. These remarkably diverse geographic influences and wide–ranging experiences are ubiquitous and tangible as Steven creatively blends them, with distinctive island ingredients and flavours, into The Vix’s menu of high–end modern cuisine. The vibe is comfortable and relaxing yet positively stylish; a chic side–walk café ambiance evocative of the Mediterranean.
The Breakfast Menu at The Vix Bar & Grill includes Salmon with Eggs
The bar is the quintessence of casual elegance. Arriving during Friday’s Happy Hour, our timing was judicious and impeccable – a respectable three hour Happy Hour from 5 to 8 where bar snacks have evolved to new and avant–garde heights. Deliciously crispy, saltystrips of bacon are served in glasses, guaranteed to whet your appetite and provoke your thirst! I could be tempted to eat a meal at the bar! Also on offer Happy Hour Fridays – tasty chunks of roasted potatoes with a creamy dipping sauce on the side.
An enticing Evening Menu of dishes Steven creates for, “All moods and palates.” is augmented by an evolving selection of Today’s Specials. Compliments of the Chef, an appetizer of Chicken and Spring Onion Skewers was an agreeable combination of flavours, textures and temperatures. Grilling spring onions renders them sweet and tender and proffers a lovely smoky flavour that married perfectly with the chicken. The brisk and refreshingly cool mint salad and chunks of watermelon added a unique and pleasurable taste sensation while the soy added a satisfying verve, and prompted a, “Wow, this is delightful!” from my dining companion.
Grouper Carpaccio appetiser at The Vix Bar & Grill
I have an unswerving penchant for Tuna Carpaccio, and was curious to see if Steven’s grouper counterpart could step up to the plate. Not only did it step up to the plate, it hit a home run! An eye–catching presentation of gossamer slices of mouth–watering local grouper verging on transparent was served with an appetizing and crunchy tower of lime, mint and pineapple salsa. Across the table, Conch and Crab Fritters were kicked up with a fresh chili sauce that packed just the right amount of heat. A deliciously crunchy exterior made way for a soft and tender minced combination of delicate crab and tasty conch. The Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup is just the thing for those cool Caribbean evenings – or any evening for that matter. Deemed “Rich, thick, and smooth.” a fellow diner raved of the great ginger flavours and its warm, welcoming and comforting features. Happy to offer an opinion, I submerged my spoon into the creamy cornucopia of hearty flavours and instantly concurred.
The past few years have seen an insurgence in the appearance of duck on island menus. Nothing can compare to the savoury, intense flavours and tender meat that simply falls apart. Imagine that melt–in–your mouth duck, harmonized with the sweetness of figs, enveloped in a crisp and crunchy spring roll, and served on a bed of big chunks of papaya scented with fresh, peppery coriander and a splash of tangy and luscious lime. This combination was absolutely sinful; after all, the fig, and its infamous leaves, gained quite a reputation in the Garden of Eden.
Chef Steven Dray’s Lamb Shank gets rave reviews!
A 2006 Sancerre Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley in France garnered applause from around the table. Much lighter than a California Pinot, all agreed on its intense fruitiness and chose to continue with this winning vintage to accompany our entrée courses. I have to draw attention to the great wine recommendations on The Vix Wine List, not only do they afford some basic tasting notes, but in addition, suggested food pairings.
On a previous Vix adventure – I had the unforgettable and eternally cherished pleasure of experiencing the lamb shank. So enamoured of this dish, I had been harbouring an unwavering and yearning desire for it to make a routine appearance on The Vix menu ever since. I silently wept grateful tears of happiness when it appeared on the regular menu that evening! I know what you are probably thinking, “Come on; it’s just a lamb shank.” But trust me on this: Chef Steven took my palate out of this world and back to his sojourn in exotic India with this to–die–for, melt–in–your mouth dish served with an unbelievable chickpea daal and smothered in a creamy, rich coconut milk sauce with fresh chilies. Sliced raw red onions added the ideal topping to this pleasurably hot creation. Be forewarned of this dish and its guaranteed kneejerk reaction. The moment the absolutely tender meat makes contact with your palate, your eyes will involuntarily close, and as you ever–so–slowly masticate and take pleasure in each and every forkful you are irresistibly compelled to drift away, momentarily and sporadically unreachable by your dining companions until you and the dish are utterly consumed.
Desserts include Pineapple and Red Fruit Gazpacho, Minted Lime Granita
It’s a tough act to follow up a dish with a narrative like that – yet Steven did not disappoint. More fabulous heat and powerful flavours were proffered in his Island Seafood Curry. With an out–and–out abundance of delicacies from the sea, my favourite dining companion affectionately called it a, “Smorgasbord of seafood.” Dependant entirely on what’s available, our evening’s medley included grouper, snapper, prawns, scallops, lobster and salmon suffused in a rousing and spicy curry sauce on a bed of basmati rice with a hint of saffron engendering that instantly recognizable rich, golden colour – appropriately served with poppadums and an appetizing mango chutney, perfect compliments to this wonderful dish.
Across the table, Chargrilled Calamari was served whole and stuffed with a delicate minced crab and zesty ginger filling. Perfectly grilled, an accompanying white bean and spinach salad provided a unique and unusual combination of tastes and textures.
A Roasted Pork Belly featured on Today’s Special Entrée turned out to be one hot commodity! The thick layer of fat kept the extremely tender and generous portion of pork very moist and flavourful throughout the roasting process. The result of which, was that irresistible crispy and delicious outer layer of rind. Smothered in a rich and savoury sauce and served with a side of sweet and sour vegetables my fellow diner had no desire whatsoever to sell, trade or even share.
Enjoy an extended Happy Hour on Fridays at The Vix Bar & Grill
You can also create your own dish from the Grills Menu, which offers several cuts of meat and fish with a choice of sauce and side. A variety of creative sauce selections include tapenade and tomato chutney; while minted lemon couscous and buttered spinach in lemon oil are a few examples of sides.
Desserts were chosen by the chef and Dolis, our friendly, conscientious and telepathic server, knew exactly where to place the Bitter Chocolate Tart! Chocolate, espresso and mascarpone cheese made for a rich and intensely indulgent dessert, which I then somberly traded to taste the Iced Green Apple Parfait. At first, I was sad to part with my chocolate decadence, but my taste buds were awakened with this phenomenally creamy creation. An amazing pistachio praline on a base of paper–thin slices of tart green apples – this was poles apart from the traditional dessert offerings. A Pineapple and Red Fruit Gazpacho topped with a Minted Lime Granita was an utterly refreshing and revitalizing way to end a meal. Finally, an Assiette of Sorbets in Mango, Strawberry and Raspberry made for an incredibly intense splash of vivid colours and equally powerful fruit flavours.
Attentive and hospitable, Steven afforded our table several stopovers throughout the evening; enthusiastic to express the ideas behind his cart de jour and keen to hear our thoughts and opinions. As you can probably imagine, in addition to the richly deserved compliments for the evening’s cuisine in general, I couldn’t help but gush profusely and utter a grateful prayer of thanks to the chef behind the shank... eager to return to The Vix again, strap myself in and enjoy the ride!
The Vix Bar & Grill (Restaurant/Dessert/Bar) photos provided by The Vix.
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