seafood-fridaysSeafood Fridays

Perfect recipe for an island institution

If there’s anything better than dining under the stars in the heart of a Caribbean national park, it’s perhaps when surrounded by enchanting 18th century purlieus and the hum of friendly chatter. Whether attracted by the sublime location, the delectable cuisine or merely the chance to catch up with pals over a drink and a bite, Seafood Fridays at the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel in Nelson’s Dockyard is something of an island institution. And as the tantalising aroma of fresh lobster, mahi mahi and wahoo wafts across the waterfront where the cordial crowds converge it’s easy to see why.

From around 7pm each week – regardless of the month or the weather – the lively al fresco shindig draws in a melting pot of locals and tourists alike. For most, says food and beverage manager Laurence Lloyd, it’s all about the ambience. “It’s a very relaxing atmosphere to meet up with old friends and make new ones. It’s a family-friendly meeting place, a social gathering for wonderful food, with light background music kept low enough to be able to talk easily. Since it started in February 2011, we have watched Seafood Fridays grow in numbers; these days we often get more than 300 guests.”

All dishes are fresh and cooked to order. Some, like the popular seafood pasta in parmesan cream sauce, are prepared on the spot before your eyes. Other long-standing favourites include fishcakes of lobster, crab or saltfish, conch chowder, fish and chips, and fried snapper, all served with inspired and sumptuous sides. “Our dishes are infused with delicious fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, garlic, seasoned peppers and cilantro to really bring the flavours alive,” Laurence continues. “And for anyone who’s not a fan of seafood, we have a variety of pizzas and steak dishes too.”

With its cobbled courtyards and gracious colonial architecture, the Copper & Lumber Store is a veritable hub of living history. Happily, for its largely insouciant guests, it’s entirely lacking in stuffiness. Convivial staff greet guests like old friends, while antiques that would, in other parts of the world, be imperiously carted off and placed in glass cases gleefully vie for space amongst the weathered brickwork, hand-hewn beams and mellow brass. Whether occupying one of the hotel’s 14 charming suites or not, diners are welcome for breakfast, with delights like the acclaimed Copper & Lumber pancakes on offer from 7.30am to a generous 11.30am every day.

The restaurant, which has free WiFi, also serves up a smorgasbord of international fare for lunch, from tuna sashimi to grilled chicken salad, West Indian roti to Philly steak sub. Crisp salad platters are topped off with heavenly dressings, such as the tangy passion fruit vinaigrette - the recipes for which are a closely guarded secret. Another kept firmly under wraps is the extra special formula which continues to maintain Copper & Lumber’s status as one of Antigua’s most celebrated establishments.

by Gemma Handy

Copper & Lumber is open daily for breakfast and lunch. Dinner is on request with 24-hour advance notice. Call 460-1058 for reservations.