Wine & Dine in Seychelles with Judith Heede
The Seychelles Islands are the kind of dream destinations people want to visit at least once in their life. Known for their purest white beaches, crystal clear waters and unspoiled nature, tourists come from all over the world to enjoy and explore this romantic raw gem in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
However, the islands are not necessarily known for their dynamic nightlife or cutting-edge restaurant scene. The Seychelles has never positioned itself as a party or jet-set destination but more as an exclusive tranquil hideaway far from the international hipster crowd. Their real luxury lies in privacy and simplicity; a deliciously spiced grilled fish enjoyed with your toes buried in the warm sand, a fresh coconut in the shadow of a palm tree or an exotic octopus curry from the vendor on the street. Seychelles has its own way to dine and wine. Let us tell you all about it . . .
La Perle Noir
The ‘Black Pearl’ scores high on atmosphere, with an eye-catching nautical theme scattered around the dining room and terrace. The food gets good reviews from the many repeat visitors and with its perfect location in the heart of Beau Vallon, we recommend you book a table in advance to make sure you can enjoy your Spaghetti Lobster on the romantic veranda. The Italian brothers Marco and Dino who founded the restaurant more than 20 years ago have some more aces up their sleeves: try the famous beef fillet with Roquefort sauce or whole grouper fish with a smooth white wine garlic sauce, or perhaps sample the spicy tuna carpaccio with roquette and truffle – the menu never disappoints!
Another Italian classic lies not far away at the end of the coast road near Danzil. Named for the white steps leading up to the open air restaurant built on massive granite boulders overlooking the ocean, La Scala is an old favourite for visitors and locals alike. Apart from the perfect location, it’s the owners who gave this place its heart and soul. Silvana has been the lady of the house for more than three decades now, charming her guests in five different languages, while her husband Giani wields the wooden spoon in the kitchen, making sure that each dish on the menu tastes as delicious as it did 30 years ago. The palmist gratin is one of the specials one shouldn’t miss and obviously it’s a must to stop at the fresh fish counter on the way in to choose your main course. Whether it’s the grilled red snapper a la créole (with tomato and onion chutney), the whole grouper with garlic and ginger or the fresh slipper lobster, you’ll leave by those famous stairs with no regrets.
The charming Treasure Cove Boutique Hotel and its Restaurant Olivier le Vasseur are just a stone’s throw from the quaint fishing village of Bel Ombre. This area is home to the famous La Buse Treasure and popular for its cosy atmosphere. The covered outdoor restaurant is perched high above the water and has a gorgeous view of the sea towards the dramatic island of Silhouette. The restaurant specialises in Creole cuisine with a focus on seafood and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The best time to go is around 6 pm to enjoy the Baya bar with an amazing sunset over the bay and live music.
This long-standing venture is famous for its lively Friday nights when tourists and locals hang out together sipping on colourful cocktails whilst watching the most spectacular sunsets. It’s also a great place for a slap-up meal with its authentic Creole-themed buffet dinner with about 20 different dishes on offer, including juicy mango and papaya salads, creamy pumpkin chutney, barbecued fish and different local curries. Boathouse also has a tasty selection of fish dishes at lunchtime and you can always pop in casually after a swim in the ocean just meters away…
On an open-sided elevated platform above the beach at the Coral Strand Hotel, Coral Asia does excellent sushi that the whole island raves about. It’s one of the few places on Mahé serving fresh salmon, and the contemporary preparation is a delight for the eyes: the Waguy Beef rolls are grilled with a torch and the seaweed salad bowl with fried tofu topping pleases every vegetarian foodie. Arrive early to have a cocktail by the bar and to take some stunning sunset pictures.
With waterside tables overlooking the bay of Beau Vallon, La Plage lives up to its name. Like most of the places on Beau Vallon beach you get a great view of the sunset, but nowhere else in the area is so close by the water. Cocktails are beautifully presented and taste like mini-holidays. Obviously you get some excellent seafood dishes here – try the Linguine mixed platter if you’re a lover!
La Grande Maison
If you’re out for something special, La Grande Maison on Mahe’s East coast is the place to go. Two and a half years ago Belgian chef Christelle Verheyen opened her top notch restaurant inside the old plantation house of the Takamaka rum distillery. The old colonial “Grann Kaz” (Creole for big house) has been decorated with a lot of love for detail and you can even browse around the adjoining shop for interesting souvenirs like artist’s books, locally made soaps and oils or paintings. The dining area on the veranda has a view over a small sugar cane field and the exotic garden. The Millionaire’s Salad is a must-try starter: she uses different textures of a coconut tree to prepare the palmist salad and tops that with fresh truffle flakes. The creamy octopus curry is probably not for the faint-hearted who shy away from spice, but a great choice for those who want to try a great authentic Seychellois dish.
This romantic beach restaurant lies on the wild west coast of Mahé at Port Glaud. This delightful spot sits right on the beach and weds cafe-cool to excellent cooking. The centrepiece is local seafood: octopus straight from the lagoon, baked red snapper in banana leaf, seafood platters and Creole curries, including the rarely seen crab curry. Throw in local tapas, wickedly cool cocktails and beautiful sea views and it adds up to one of the best west-coast venues.
As the name suggests, the trendy Rockpool restaurant sits high on the rocks in Mahés’ north at Glacis, overlooking the blue ocean. The charming beach setting pairs perfectly with the menu, which is a well-balanced fusion of Asian and Creole tastes and flavours. Fresh seafood together with classic and contemporary meat and vegetable dishes ensures the Rockpool is sure to have something to tantalise all palettes.
The only international restaurant brand in the country is just as lively as its international siblings. The Cuban band provides a cheerful Latino atmosphere every night but on Fridays the salsa class attendants twirl over the wooden parquet floor -sometimes until the early morning hours. Besides the fun party nights, the Polynesian themed restaurant has some special treats on the menu. Typical Asian dishes like the “5 Spice Shredded Duck” or the Indonesian Rack of Lamb please every Trader Vic’s fan, while the monthly changing dinner themes are very popular among the regular local guests.
The Rum Shag
The little shag at the Angel Fish Jetty just before the Bridge of Eden Island is probably the best kept secret on the Island. The cosy hangout place is just big enough to squeeze in a few people and serves some great homemade rum with different flavours such as thyme, passionfruit or coconut. Zack, the owner brews and distills his strong potions in the back of the bar following the recipes of his Russian ancestors.
After a hard day’s work it’s always nice to pop in at Eden Island marina’s very own watering hole. Located on the boardwalk, a mere 100 metres from the super-yacht pontoon, the bar and lounge plays host to live bands and DJs. You can watch international sports on one of the 2 “Big Screens” or taste some of the local cocktails poured by the experts. Friday is the most popular night at Boardwalk and the place turns into Mahé’s only proper night club where locals and tourists dance and party until the sun rises over the ocean.
The Club Liberté Casino is the right choice for an exclusive night out, located adjacent to the Four Seasons property. The casino offers 12 tables and 31 slots for the players and an intimate food and beverage offering including a sushi bar for those who would rather just enjoy the elegant atmosphere and a nibble. Live music plays on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays as well as live sport events being screened on wide screen TVs.
Avani TGA club
The recently opened Nightclub at the Avani Resort & Spa on Mahé’s west coast attracts the young and hip crowd on the island with its stylish interior and international DJ music. Low bar tables complete with sparkling champagne bottles and inviting seat cushions are drenched in a striking violet light. The club’s slogan “Sorry I am a VIP” kicks in the minute you arrive.
In a great location on the water’s edge, this snazzy restaurant is one of the most popular places to eat on the little island of La Digue. The menu runs the gamut from seafood to international meat dishes and salads to Creole staples. It’s also a great place to linger over a fruity cocktail as the sun sinks low on the horizon.
Fruita Cabana Bar
The most photographed beach in the world is obviously not an empty hangout place but has become quite a commercial beach area for tourists. However, the beauty of the granite rock formations and the crystal clear water is still a stunning sight that you should enjoy with a freshly squeezed fruit juice or some cold coconut water from the Cabana Beach Bar.
Nobody really visits La Digue with great party plans, but the atmosphere at Tarosa Restaurant & Bar right at the jetty is a must for everyone who spends a weekend on this little island. The Creole cuisine is always authentic and fresh and it’s great fun to extend the sundowner into an all-nighter, shaking your bootie on the dance floor with the locals.
Cafe des Arts
Praslin’s most stylish restaurant is in the Le Duc de Praslin hotel. Flickering candles, colourful paintings, swaying palms, a breezy terrace and the sound of waves washing onto the beach will rekindle the faintest romantic flame. The food is suitably refined; flavourful Seychellois favourites are whipped into eye-pleasing dishes like red-snapper fillet in passionfruit sauce or marinated chicken with tropical fruits. At weekends the place turns into a fancy discotheque and is well known all the way to the main island as a cool going out spot.
This is clearly a front-row seat for paradise but it comes at a price. With such a location (the palm-thatched canopy is right on the beach at gorgeous Anse Lazio) tables are in high demand: ring ahead if you want to try the crab curry in coconut milk or the grilled catch of the day – it’s worth it! You’ll pay a premium for the location but there’s no denying you are sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.