Dating back to 1670, the historic Waterlot Inn (Fairmont Southampton, Jews Bay, Middle Rd., tel. 441/239-6967, www.fairmont.com/southampton, dinner only 6–10 p.m. daily, jacket suggested) is a Bermuda landmark, beloved as much for its indulgent menu as for its resident ghost. Local lore says the spirit of pioneering owner Claudia Darrell still stalks the building that was home to generations of her seafaring ancestors, as well as a blacksmith shop and parish post office over the years. In the early 1900s, Darrell inherited the house and converted it into an English-style tavern where she befriended visiting celebrities like Mark Twain, Eugene O’Neill, James Thurber, and Eleanor Roosevelt, becoming something of an island legend.
Owned today by the Fairmont Southampton Resort, the harborside Waterlot remains steeped in history, its cedar beams, thick limestone walls, and low ceilings converted to intimate dining rooms. Patrons often arrive by boat, and nothing is more bucolic than sunset cocktails and dinner on Waterlot’s dockside on a summer evening. Winner of the AAA Four Diamond Award for the past 11 years, Waterlot’s menu is in keeping with an upscale American steakhouse, despite its U.K. tavern appearance. So while the Caesar salads prepared tableside for two or more ($16), oysters on the half shell ($20, with caviar $45), and Bermuda fish chowder served with sherry peppers and black rum ($12) may be scrumptious, the star of the show is the USDA steak, aged a minimum of three weeks. Tenderloin, strip loin, loin chop, Porterhouse, rib eye, and prime rib cuts ($40–62, side orders to share $10) are chef’s specialties. Japanese Kobe beef ($145) and twin South African rock lobster tails ($80) are a couple of signature dishes.
Long revered by gourmands, The Newport Room (Fairmont Southampton, 101 South Shore Rd., tel. 441/239-6964, www.fairmont.com/southampton, 6:30–10 p.m. daily, jacket required, tie suggested) is a Bermuda culinary icon—and the place for a serious proposal, anniversary, or deal clincher. In 2005, it won kudos for its refined menu and impeccable European-style silver service, with an upgrade to AAA Five Diamond Award status, becoming the only restaurant in Bermuda or the Caribbean to hold such distinction. Within its intimate navy and varnished-teak interior, bone china, and crystal, you’d be hard-pressed to believe you weren’t in the dining room of a well-endowed private yacht. Named for the century-old Newport–Bermuda Ocean Race, the restaurant opened in 1972 with the hotel, whose then-owner, the late multi-billionaire Daniel Ludwig, was passionate about sailing.
The prix fixe menu (three courses $85, four courses $95, plus 15 percent gratuity) by chef Shaker Estephane draws heavily on seasonal produce from Bermuda’s farms and ocean combined with en vogue imports. The result is a selection of elegant modern French dishes: seared foie gras with gingerbread crust, tortellini with parmesan foam, monkfish with truffle vinaigrette, Scottish langostines in crab broth, duck and quail filled with boudin noir. The restaurant has partnered with über-chef Terrance Brennan, owner of trendy Manhattan bistros Picholine and Artisanal and founder of the Artisanal Cheese Center in Hell’s Kitchen, to bring in 15 handpicked varieties of cheese weekly. The Newport Room’s cheese course now offers a sampler of three ($15) or six ($25) with quince jelly, fig loaf, fresh fruit, and nuts. Choose the side banquettes for maximum privacy and people-watching.
Like an elegant supper club, Royston’s (The Reefs Resort, 56 South Shore Rd., tel. 441/238-0222, www.thereefs.com, dinner 6:30–9:30 p.m. daily), is the result of a 2008 makeover of the resort’s fireplaced dining room, with its adjoining wine room holding more than 1,200 bottles. Specialties range from seared halibut and steak Wellington to pork chop caramelized with black rum and lobster ravioli, making Royston’s a welcome West End addition to the food scene. Named for owner David Dowdwell’s father, the restaurant’s decor features Bermuda stone walls, leather banquettes, and dark wood-and-mint touches.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition