"Oh my God, that's good", were the words that tumbled from my lips after my first taste of the "sweet beef" served at The Club restaurant in The Bight on Norman Island.
The re-invented "temporary" building has now become a permanent fixture and has been expanded to include a lovely open kitchen with a full staff and separate bar area. The building (as some regular BVI visitors may recall) was built within 6 weeks of a disastrous fire that completely destroyed the newly renovated Pirate's Bight Restaurant on October 1, 2013. The simple yet charming, stick frame building was erected as a short term replacement while owner Henry Jarecki and staff scrambled to rebuild the restaurant.
Since Pirate's was rebuilt, the replacement restaurant sat mainly unused, save for the occasional special event. In January 2016, it opened for business as a stand-alone restaurant, serving tapas under the guidance of Matteo Mancini who hails from Como, Italy. Matteo has extensive experience in high-end resort management in Italy, the Maldives, and most recently, nearly 3 years at Guana Island. When asked about his background, he was quick to throw in that he is single and has no children ... that he knows of.
Being in the early stages of development, The Club Restaurant has a few kinks to sort out, but Matteo is very approachable and open minded. He is always happy to receive feedback and suggestions from customers. Something that is not immediately evident is that The Club is a tapas restaurant. There is no signage to indicate the type of food offered and though it wasn't mentioned on the menu the last time I was there, you will soon observe that everything on the menu is à la carte.
The kitchen staff is amazing to watch. Their tapas are meticulously prepared and when I asked the chef what the top selling items on the menu were, he said that the Anatto chicken, conch ceviche, lobster paella and grilled jumbo shrimp were the standout items. Bartender Alex Douglas said his top selling drinks were fresh squeezed juices, their spicy Margarita, British 75, bushwhacker and the zombie hurricane.
I had the pleasure of dining here with my family shortly after they opened for business and I have to say that both the food and service were excellent. The appetizer-sized portions of various cuisines from around the world, include Mediterranean, Caribbean, Peruvian and Japanese delights. If you are not familiar with tapas, you may want to order two dishes per person ... or even three if you are particularly hungry. One dish is fine as a snack (for most) but the sweet beef (which was outstanding in flavour and perfectly cooked to my liking) was sufficient for me as a meal.
I considered ordering the grilled veggie side dish, but I really wasn't that hungry. Of course, when I saw someone else's order of veggies, I decided I would definitely try that on my next visit. It looked and smelled wonderful! The presentation of all their offerings is lovely. This is definitely a first rate restaurant and I can highly recommend it to those who truly enjoy and don't mind paying for superior quality offerings. Prices are not for the faint of heart and range from $5.00 for a side of coconut rice to $38.00 for the jerk beef steak and mushrooms. My sweet beef was $28.00 and I felt it was well worth it. The lobster paella was $20.00 and although I thought that was priced on the high side, the flavour was excellent. I will definitely be back!
Anyone visiting Norman Island may dine at The Club Restaurant or Pirate's Bight, but the lovely lounge chairs with plush cushions, umbrellas, and teak tables (located east of the dock) are reserved for those willing to pay for their use. This fee comes with attentive beach side service for both food and drink as well as the use of their bathrooms and freshwater shower facilities ... complete with lovely plush towels.
My family of 6 contented ourselves on the beach in front of Pirate's Bight (which has no surcharge) and offers the same attentive beach service, nice enough lounge chairs with tables, but very little shade. Norman Island is among my top three favourite places in the BVI. With the addition of The Club Restaurant, I am pretty sure I will be visiting more frequently in the future. It really is a lovely spot with a wonderful atmosphere and terrific food.
Photos of The Club
Location and general information
Island: Norman Island
Location: The Bight
Beach: The Bight Beach
Take-away service: No
Air Conditioned: No
Monitors VHF Channel Channels 16 or 69
Map for The Club
Tucked up in the far eastern corner of the beach in the Bight at Norman Island. Access by boat only.
For land-based visitors, they offer ferry service from Hannah Bay (opposite Nanny Cay Marina) on Tortola. Call 284-443-1305 for departure times. The fee is $20.00 per person and includes one free drink.