December 10, 2023

The night  we dined at Big Fish Seafood Grill and Hurricane Bar in St. Maarten’s Oyster Pond area, was one of the highlights of my trip to St. Maarten. That’s because I was transported the moment I stepped through the door. I was mesmerized by the  ultra-chic white-on-white decor …

am I in South Beach? New York City? … LA? Needless to say, Big Fish’s decor and ambience is impressive, and went beyond my expectations for an overall Caribbean dining experience. However, it all made sense when I was told that Big Fish chef/owner Leslie Martina not only commands the kitchen, but also designed the restaurant’s stunning decor. There is clearly passion at work here.

Big Fish is casually elegant and Caribbean breezy

We were seated inside, but the view to the outdoor courtyard was so inviting I had to take a peek. It didn’t disappoint. But, though I was left with visions of enjoying a candlelit after-dinner drink outside, our long communal  table in the center of the restaurant was ideal. Seated under three spectacular crystal chandeliers, we were treated  to an uninterrupted view of the open kitchen where Martina and his team work their magic.

I kicked off my 3-course chef’s menu with a pre-dinner Cosmo that was as strong as it was dee-lish. First up was the Caribbean Pumpkin Soup,  a smooth, rich coconuty broth accompanied with an upscale version of a St. Maarten Bake (fried dumpling) drizzled with honey. However, it was my eye-popping main course (pictured above) that really got my attention! Yes, it’s hard to believe that I ordered chicken in a restaurant called Big Fish, but I did. That’s because I had had red snapper for lunch and didn’t want to duplicate. The Bombay Chicken was delicious and very filling. In this dish, bite-size pieces of oven-baked chicken are topped with sauteed spinach and a lemongrass coconut curry sauce. For dessert, the apple tart with ice cream made my toes tingle … or was that the two glasses of wine? Needless to say, I was satisfied.

That evening I learned that Big Fish was located across the street for many years and recently moved to their new location in early 2011. I also learned that, in addition to running a very successful restaurant, Martina offers unique deep sea sport fishing excursions (; 721-543 6288).

Martina and Captain Michael, the energetic, friendly bartender who served us that night, take guests out on one of the Big Fish’s 35- and 38-foot Bertrams. After a day on the water, Martina’s team will prepare your catch of the day for a memorable dining experience. I’ve now added this experience to my bucket list!

With everything on Martina’s “plate”, it’s not surprising that Big Fish (Emerald Merrit Road #14; 721-586-1961) doesn’t appear to have a website yet. However, I hope that changes soon because I, for one, would love to know more about what’s going on at the restaurant, even when I’m not in St. Maarten (and I’ll be back). It’s also an easy way to pass on the word. Chic, relaxed and fun, Big Fish was the catch of my day.

This marks the last day of my blogging about my trip to St. Maarten. I thank my mother for giving me the opportunity to share my passions (travel, food, photography) with all of you! Next week we’ll be back to providing you with mom’s Jamaican favourites. Next week’s new recipe? Red Pea Soup!

Growing up my mother taught me and my sisters how to cook and bake, but the Jamaican dishes were always her territory. So now, years later, Iike you I'm learning how to cook like a Jamaican! From time to time I also share my own recipes that feature modern twists on traditional Jamaican dishes and ingredients.


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