In coming to learn the social scene, you will hear the word limin’ a fair amount. Meaning differs from person to person, resident to visitor, BVIslander to Expat, going from the serenity of ‘relaxing’ to the hedonism of ‘partying’. The main thing is, it’s about enjoyment and if there’s one thing the BVI is synonymous with, it’s fun!
For local cuisine, the BVI, especially Anegada, is known for lobster. Caribbean spiny lobsters are long, prickly, yellow creatures that lack big front claws. Many individuals only eat the tail, but there’s sweet meat in all ten of those claws.
Another popular local seafood dish is conch (pronounced konk) as in the critter that lives in the shells that you listen to on the beach. Conch fritters usually consist of battered, breaded and fried pieces of the creature, which is actually a type of sea snail. Other conch dishes, including conch chowder, can be found on the majority of local menus.
Roti, in the BVI, is curried vegetables and meat in a chickpea-flour wrapper and is often served with chutney. It’s filling and delicious. Though they may look like Hot Pockets, patties which are similar to British pasties, are crusty turnovers filled with salt-fish, chicken, beef, lentils or vegetables.
A common side dish which accompanies most local cuisine is called “rice and peas”. However, the “peas” are usually a lentil, unlike the green vegetable which most cultures outside the Caribbean would expected to get.
Many restaurants in the Caribbean boast that they are the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” but Jimmy asserts the following in American Way magazine: “I can tell you how ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ got written…We sailed from Ponce with a rigged-up bow spread that was broken, and it was a rough passage. We sailed into [Road Town], got off the boat, and were starving. We were dying for a cheeseburger after being at sea for 10 days eating fish. And there, like an oasis, was this brand-new restaurant at the Village Cay Marina. We went in and just started gobbling cheeseburgers and drinking piña coladas because we were so glad to be on land.”
Most establishments serve lunch from noon to 3:00pm and dinner from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. Some are closed on Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays, so it’s best to call ahead to check, especially if you’re dining after 9:00pm. Reservations are encouraged at most of the upscale establishments.
Although it is the city centre, I soon found out that restaurant options available in Road Town especially decrease on a Saturday and Sunday. But, this encouraged me to explore the many hidden gems offering locally-inspired cuisine available in other beautiful areas of the island.
In the British Virgin Islands, it is a customary practice to tip 10-15% minimum, depending on the quality of the service you receive (we have some outstanding servers and bartenders here, so if they exceed your expectations, you may wish to be more generous). Some restaurants include gratuity of 15-18% on the bill already. Be sure to also tip bartenders when paying cash at the bar.
Due to the same importation costs that make groceries so expensive in the BVI, dining out can be a major cost. With that same argument, you can rationalise that since you’re paying so much for food anyway, you might as well have someone else cook for you.
One of the reasons why so many people love the BVI is the thriving bar scene. In season, some bars stay open well past 4:00am. Most bars have happy hour specials, snacks or buffets. As we are a British Overseas Territory, like the United Kingdom, our legal drinking age is also 18 years old.
In addition to the usual haunts, there are a great many ‘Spanish’ bars (which simply means the baristas or clientele speak Spanish). For advice on the bar scene, log onto bvinewbie.com/ask and let us know what you’re looking for.
For advice on the bar scene, log onto bvinewbie.com/ask and let us know what you’re looking for.
Our two signature BVI drinks you’ll see down here are the ‘Painkiller’ and the ‘Buschwacker’. The Painkiller tends to be a popular choice amongst visitors, as it is a unique creamy blend of coconut, pineapple and orange, shaken over I. I prefer the Bushwacker- basically an alcoholic milkshake containing shots of creamy liqueurs and dangerous spirits blended with ice.
There’s no denying that the BVI knows how to party. But if the imbibing becomes excessive, there’s always help nearby. The Community Agency on Drugs and Addiction, or CADA, is a non- profit, non-government agency that has served the BVI in raising awareness regarding alcohol and drug abuse since 1981. CADA can be reached for information and referrals at its 24-hour helpline at 494-2324 or emailed at [email protected]. The organisation also offers education to schools and advice to employers.
[email protected]. The organisation also offers education to schools and advice to employers.
A call to CADA can also provide you with schedules for self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and the Al Anon Family Group. Both groups have been meeting in the BVI for over 30 years. On Tortola, AA meets at Sandy Lane Centre (behind the Davis Funeral Home near the main RiteWay) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30pm, and again on Sundays at 9am.
Al Anon meets at the CADA office, next to the Fire Station, every Tuesday at 6 pm. For Virgin Gorda Meetings, contact CADA anytime.
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