Where When How — March/April 2017
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Las Brisas
Mandy Rostance-Wolf

ECLECTIC CUISINE AGAINST A STUNNING BACKDROP

CHANCES ARE, YOUR FIRST GLIMPSE of Chalk Sound National Park was from an airplane window. Nose to the glass, already mesmerized by the dazzling clarity and colours of the West Indies beneath you, your flight began its descent into Providenciales. But just as the plane banked for the final approach, an almost hypnotic and surreal shade of iridescent, ‘chalky’ turquoise water appeared. Three breathtaking and spectacular miles of absolute natural beauty, framed by a dramatic iron shore and scattered with jagged rocky islets. This is the essence of what ‘Beautiful by Nature’ is all about. This is Chalk Sound National Park.

Now, imagine dining overlooking this natural panorama. Las Brisas Restaurant is located right at the water’s edge and brings a whole new meaning to al fresco dining. Take a front row seat on the spacious terrace or in the gazebo and be amazed and entertained by nature’s constantly changing panoply of shades and hues of turquoise by day. Or take pleasure in romantic evenings beneath starstudded skies, surrounded by Tiki torches. Cooled by an abundance of constant tropical ‘brisas’ kick back and relax, as you’re going to want to stay a while.

Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a Caribbean splash is prepared by a team of five chefs who make up a veritable culinary United Nations from Thailand, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and our own Turks and Caicos Islands. The extensive and comprehensive menu covers virtually every craving for breakfast (in season), lunch and dinner.

The bar is located poolside and has earned a reputation for being one of the island’s most reasonable. Somehow, someone managed to replicate that ethereal shade of turquoise in a cocktail. The ‘Chalk Sound’ is a creative concoction of Bambarra coconut and white rums, Peach Schnapps, Lemonade, Pineapple and Blue Curacao, and it tastes as captivating as it looks.

One of the things I love about this menu is the Tapas. Deliciously tasty and delightfully diverse, this popular culinary trend has reached far beyond its Mediterranean origins.

The Crab Cake is a great place to start. Dive into this two-tier, tantalisingly addictive crustacean that’s moist and tender on the inside, and delectably crispy on the outside, thanks to a light panko crust. Relish each bite with the refreshing salsa, or scoop up a dollop of the creamy saffron mayo. A sprinkling of fried capers elevated this dish to pure perfection. “Best crab cake on the island,” my fellow diner raved.

Shrimp Dumplings are always in season, but if it’s lobster season, you have a choice. I enjoyed four delicious and crispy dumplings stuffed with tender minced lobster. A tasty wasabi and teriyaki glaze and a cooling hit of pickled ginger made this a marvelous medley.

The Chilli and Garlic Calamari have long been a personal favourite my husband and I share, but not equally. Completely tender, with a fabulously crunchy coating and a drizzle of cilantrolime citrus mayo, this succulent squid seems to vanish in seconds.

Creamy Mozzarella, fragrant basil and earthy tomatoes come together to make the classic Caprese Salad. Bright and brimming with fresh and lively flavours, here the addition of a zesty pesto and a robust house balsamic take these basic elements over the top. “Awesome balsamic reduction,” my favourite diner complimented.

Tapas also includes Fish Ceviche, Coconut Crusted Snapper Tacos, Mussels, Baked Brie, Nachos, Tuna Poke, Himalayan Salt Cured Tuna and several other shrimp bites. And that’s not all. We would need to return a multitude of times just to cover the Tapas menu! Hmm, I sense a challenge here.

The menu goes on and on and offers two soups, a hearty Black Bean Soup and a rich and creamy Conch Bisque. There’s plenty of salads, four pastas, and bakedto- order Specialty Pizza.

The Wine List is very reasonable. Yes, you read it right. Wine and reasonable in the same sentence. We uncorked a 2011 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. This Bordeaux-style blend with luxurious dark fruit and soft tannins was a unanimous success with our assortment of appetiser and entrée selections.

Fresh, made-to-order entrées are offered with your preference of preparation techniques including: grilled, panfried, cracked, blackened or Creole. Your choice of sauce includes: rosemary, lemon garlic butter, Béarnaise or mushroom. Now, choose two sides from jasmine rice, mashed, baked, French fries or yucca chips, black beans, side salad, steamed vegetables or corn on the cob.

In keeping with my lobster theme, I chose the Caicos Lobster Thermidor. ‘Tis the season! Presentation is dramatic and stunning served in the shell, and the outrageously creamy brandy-based sauce saturated each and every lobster morsel with an incredible depth of flavour.

If you’re in the mood to share the ultimate in Mediterranean cuisine, the Paella is worth the wait (45 minutes). A culinary gift of Spain, it is a savoury combination of ingredients served over >>>> deliciously spiced jasmine rice. Seafood Paella is a show stopping dish with shrimp, fish, clams, mussels, calamari and lobster (in season). Or try Las Brisas Paella with chicken, pulled pork and, what I consider the star of this dish, an incredibly smoky Spanish chorizo that infused the entire dish with flavour.

The Tuna Steak was “fantastic.” This thick, man-size steak was served on top of a creamy guacamole salsa, fried rice and topped with a refreshing cucumber salad. My fellow diner loved the crunchiness of the fried rice and the smooth, buttery texture of the guacamole.

And last on tonight’s culinary itinerary, but definitely not least, the Beef Wellington. This substantial eight ounce slab of fork tender beef tenderloin brought about an enthusiastic, “Oh my goodness!” My favourite dining companion ordered her beef medium rare, and that’s exactly what she got. It takes an intuitive chef to deliver medium rare that’s perfectly done, wrapped in flakey pastry. And the rich and creamy mushroom sauce was “divine.”

Spoiled for choice, more Entrée Selections and Chef’s Specialties may leave even the most decisive diner beleaguered. Also available, Fresh Fish of the Day, Lobster, Seafood Creole, Rack of Lamb, BBQ Ribs, Azorean Stuffed Chicken and plenty of steaks and more.

After dinner indulgences began with Irish Coffees all around. My fellow diner can never say no to Apple Pie a la mode. The pie was served warm, with a lovely, flakey crust and delicate hints of cinnamon. My favourite was the Coconut Rum Cake. Made with Myers Dark Rum, this Caribbean delight was so incredibly moist with plenty of tender slivers of sweet, chewy coconut meat.

Las Brisas is a great place to while away an afternoon. The lunch menu is a casual and appealing selection of sandwiches, wraps, burgers and paninis, including a Cuban Burger and a Cuban Sandwich, as well as baskets filled with lightly breaded and deep fried Shrimp, Fish, Conch or Chicken.

Make a day of it. Relax and enjoy their pool and beach while you graze your way through the menus. Get up close and personal with Chalk Sound National Park and take a cruise aboard their pontoon boat, a 2-hour guided day or sunset tour. For the more physically inclined, work up an appetite as you float above this natural aqueous phenomenon, kayaking in single or double kayaks, stand up paddleboards (SUP’s), paddle boats or a canoe – all available for rent.

Imagine celebrating your special event at Las Brisas or on their Stargazer Deck, a large, private area on site that can be booked. Aptly named, this is a stunning location.

While nearly everyone who visits these shores will experience Grace Bay – expand your holiday horizons and do something extra special. Treat yourself to an unforgettable ‘taste’ of the south side.
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