Exquisite taste in a vintage setting

Admirals AntiguaHow Admiral’s Inn’s elegant eateries are redefining cuisine

It may be some time since Lord Nelson himself graced the winsome surrounds of Antigua’s eponymously-named Georgian dockyard. The King of Norway, on the other hand, is both a recent and a regular visitor. The most cursory of glances at this enchanting hub of living history will reveal why it remains revered among luminaries.

Original 18th century buildings, flanked by elegant stone pillars on the water’s edge, provide an exquisite backdrop for Admiral’s Inn and its two internationally acclaimed restaurants. It’s easy to fall in love with the place before so much as a bite of the food. Happily for their discriminating clientele, Pillars’ and Boom’s fare is innovative, inspired and eminently enticing. Fit for a king in fact. While Pillars is characterised by an ethereal historic charm, suffused with hand-hewn beams and weathered brickwork, against an elegant waterfront setting, its poolside counterpart Boom is more casual, a tranquil place to while away an insouciant few hours with light music, daybeds and sublime dockyard vistas.

What defines them both, says co-director Astrid Deeth, is the cuisine’s consistently high standards, sous-vide cooking method and attention to detail. Sous-vide involves slowly cooking the food in airtight plastic bags in low temperature waterbaths, which not only better seals in flavours but retains all the nutrients making it healthier too. “People are blown away by the food; we have received wonderful feedback,” she says. “Most of our ingredients are fresh and locally sourced from farmers’ markets or local fishermen. Our mixed clientele includes people from all over the world, along with both locals and expats from across the island. We get our fair share of celebrities too,” she continues. “The setting is so unique; you can’t get that view or charm anywhere else.”

admiralsfoodPillars’ kitchen is presided over by Cordon Bleu-trained Chilean executive chef Juan Gil who boasts a repertoire of culinary skills as broad as the places he’s called home. Since joining the team last year he has further cemented the eatery’s reputation for delectable dishes. In season, Pillars is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Every Saturday night, the glorious venue comes alive with a themed international flavour and live music. Evenings dedicated to the tastes of Thailand, Spain, India and the Caribbean have proved a hit with guests who can choose from a la carte, a three-course table d’hote or a sumptuous tasting menu with wine pairings.

Equally popular is Pillars’ renowned Sunday roasts with succulent lamb or beef with traditional Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. Breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch are easygoing affairs. Lunchtimes feature a host of burgers and sandwiches along with winning specials like Thai shrimp salad or green curry mussels, polished off with heavenly chocolate fondant or coconut bread pudding. Over at Boom’s pool bar and restaurant, the focus is on delicious light dishes for lunch or tapas prepared by chef Nickey Hansen from Denmark. Seafood including Alaska salad, moules mariniere and sesame-crusted tuna is his speciality, but meat lovers won’t be disappointed with the Gunpowder burger and Parmesan truffle fries. The new winter tourist season will see the addition of vegan dishes, evening barbecues and a juice bar.

Both Pillars and Boom are ideally suited to a variety of private events, whether it’s an intimate honeymoon soiree or a large gala dinner, a fun-filled banquet with roast suckling pig and live music, or cocktails and canapés.

by Gemma Handy

Visit Pillars’ and Boom’s Facebook pages, www.admiralsinnantigua.com or call (+268) 460-1027 for details and reservations.