For dinner our last night, we splurged on the Lagoon Restaurant at the hotel. The restaurant and its menu was designed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who is a famous Michelin starred chef with restaurants around the world. It’s consistently rated the top restaurant in Bora Bora. Steve and I developed a habit of stopping by here every evening at sunset for one overpriced cocktail because the restaurant deck had the best view of Mount Otemanu. We saved our dinner here for the last night to celebrate our wedding anniversary and Steve’s birthday.
The restaurant sits on a pier over the lagoon and faces Mount Otemanu. They also have 2 resident lemon sharks that live under the restaurant that you can see because much of the floor of the restaurant and the deck is glass.
The sunsets here were incredible every single night. You could watch the sun slip behind the mountain and create an amazing silhouette. As it gets darker, they turn on the lights underneath and light up the water around the restaurant so you have a lovely blue glow.
Onto the food. They specialize in seafood here and everything I read said I must get the rice cracker crusted tuna with spicy sauce. I had a difficult time getting decent photos in the dark and as everyone is there for a romantic dinner, I didn’t want to use my flash and annoy people. The tuna was great. It had been crusted in the rice crackers and then flash fried for a few seconds – just enough to get the crust nice and crispy but the tuna remained rare.
Steve opted for a raw hamachi crudo with avocado, radishes and a light ponzu sauce and olive oil. Very refreshing. To be honest, I thought his had more complexity of flavor than mine, which was good but very simple.
For my main course, I opted for one of their signature dishes – lagoon fish with a sesame crust and spices and with a sweet and sour asian style broth. The fish was flavorful and perfectly cooked. Underneath it was a bed of sauteed vegetables and earthy little potatoes.
Steve decided that he was finally a little tired of fish and opted for the duo of veal which had veal loin and veal chop. The meat was melt in your mouth tender and it came with fresh green vegetables and morels. Our dishes were very different but each was wonderful in its own way. I really felt the broth on mine played off the fish and spicy crust very well.
We also had the sommelier help us pick out a wine since we ordered such different things. We had been leaning towards a light red like a pinot but he shifted us to a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which was a Grenache blend. It was very fruity but a little heavier than a pinot and I have to say that I think his pairing was much better than my original idea would have been.
Overall, this was a great vacation. A few things I learned or would advise anyone thinking about visiting French Polynesia:
– Consider saving up money or cashing in points to upgrade to business class for the flight. Air Tahiti coach seats were very narrow and uncomfortable and my 6’4 husband was miserable and I wasn’t very happy either. We both were sore from being crammed in our seats and had horrible jet lag on the way back because we couldn’t sleep.
– Just resign yourself to overpriced food and drinks. There is no escaping it anywhere in French Polynesia. While I found much of the food to be of good quality, it still wasn’t worth the price. At some point, you just have to let that go and relax.
– Definitely hit the duty free in LAX before your Air Tahiti flight. You can buy up to 4 bottles of liquor (2 for each person – 2 liters each). That will really save on drink costs which are outrageous. I love a mojito but $30 per drink?
– Pack light and breezy clothes and natural fiber. Every place we ate in French Polynesia was open air and it was warm and very humid so you will sweat everywhere you go. Steve and I each brought a lot of linen wear and it was the best choice.
Would I return to this part of the world? The answer is yes but it will probably be awhile given that if I am going to travel this far for tropical paradise, I would probably visit Hawaii or maybe Fiji or the Cook Islands next. It definitely is one of the most beautiful spots in the world and is very unique in terms of scenery and nature. Overall, it was a fantastic trip and I would recommend it for a special occasion!