“Bermuda is an inspiring place to open a restaurant,” says celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, who launched Marcus’ at the historic Fairmont Hamilton Princess & Beach Club last year. “From fresh-caught, local fish to an array of Caribbean and Portuguese ingredients and traditions, there is such a wealth of inspiration to bring to the table.”
That “sea to table” inspiration fuels Bermudian classics like fried fish sandwiches and spicy seafood chowders as well as inventive spins from chefs like Samuelsson. Indeed, the Atlantic’s grasp can be felt on almost every menu across Bermuda. It’s delectably inescapable.
To whet your appetite, here’s an overview of must-try Bermudian dishes—rum cake (and cocktails) included.
Breakfast worth braking for. No meal is more beloved by Bermudians than the codfish breakfast—a heaping plate of steamed salted cod, boiled potatoes, ripe bananas, hard boiled eggs, and sliced avocado. Commonly served on Sunday mornings, the popular breakfast dates back to the 18th century when early settlers salted cod to keep it from spoiling. Now the hearty meal is a staple served at most island restaurants that are open for Sunday brunch. Steer your wheels to Ocean Echo, a waterfront favorite at The Reefs Hotel & Club that overflows with locals getting their fix on weekends.
Chow on this. It’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve Bermuda fish chowder, a spicy seafood-and-vegetable soup that’s traditionally eaten with a dash of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Pepper Sauce. Here’s where to find two of the very best bowls: the Lobster Pot, a nautically inspired restaurant in the city of Hamilton and the place to go for everything seafood; and Henry VIII, an English pub in Southampton parish with sweeping views of the south shore from its open-air patio.
Two slices mean one thing. For Bermudians, a sandwich means a fish sandwich, first and foremost. And while no two are alike, most feature a deep fried filet served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, cole slaw, and hot sauce on raisin bread. “It’s a sandwich that doesn’t make any sense,” says Marcus Samuelsson, “but it’s delicious.” Try one at Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy, a beloved sandwich shop in the City of Hamilton, or grab a table at Rosa’s, a Front Street Tex-Mex restaurant that recently won Bermuda’s Best Fish Sandwich competition. If the craving strikes while you’re on the east or west end of the island, look respectively to Mama Angie’s, a hole-in-the-wall diner in historic St. Georges, or Woody’s in Somerset, where you can enjoy your fresh wahoo or grouper sandwich on outdoor picnic tables with a water view.
Lobster gets its own season. Sweeter than their Maine counterparts, Bermuda spiny lobsters are clawless crustaceans that take center stage from September to March; local law prohibits overfishing of these island delicacies. When in season, there’s simply nothing better on the menu—most lobster is so flavorful that it requires only a brush of butter and a squeeze of lemon. Find out for yourself at Port O’ Call, a Hamilton hotspot that packs with island power brokers at lunch and dinner.
Rum’s the word. You can’t talk about Bermuda’s culinary scene without mentioning Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. The island’s two national cocktails—the Dark n’ Stormy and the Bermuda Rum Swizzle—both feature the popular dark rum. (The Yellow Bird opts for Gosling’s Gold Seal Rum.) Plus, it’s the main ingredient in Bermuda rum cake, a fluffy dessert that comes in flavors of all kinds. Determine which is your favorite at the Bermuda Rum Cake Company at the Royal Naval Dockyard, where you can sample nearly a dozen varieties including banana, chocolate, and loquat gold. Can’t wait for your next visit? Horton’s Bakery can oblige with cake delivery to the U.S.—ocean breeze, unfortunately, not included.