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St. Martin/St. Maarten Restaurant & Dining Reviews
Wellbeing 01/01/2004
Reviewers Rating: Excellent
Wellbeing is in the Maho complex and and calls itself a "World Gourmet Restaurant". When we first saw it, we thought it was health food but it helps to see the establishment and the menu. First, the owners are Bernard from Paris Bistro and his wife Muriel, who runs the front of the house, and Thierry from Hibiscus, who has set up the menu. All three collaborated on the interior design, which is amazing. The entire space was gutted and new fixtures and kitchen equipment were installed. The entrance is graced by an improbably large piece of driftwood from Grand Case that has been whitewashed. The tables consist of custom made wrought iron bases sprouting more driftwood uprights that hold up a two foot square display box topped with glass. There are about a dozen tables and each has a motif from different areas of the world. There is a California table, a spice table, a Cuban table, and many more. The food also ranges about. There are a few specials every evening, eight aps ranging from $9 to $15 including a goat cheese salad with bacon cubes and pecans and a flan of foie gras with asparagus. There are ten seafood dishes including salmon, sole, sushi, grouper in a saffron sauce, and lobster. Prices ranged from $20 to $33, although the lobster and sole were market-priced. The six meat dishes ranged from $23 to $29 featuring a chicken and lobster dish, a pot au feu (a stew containing chicken, beef, and pork with a fiery horseradish on the side), rack of lamb, and osso bucco. Seven desserts include an assortment of creme brullees (one of our favorites at Hibiscus) and a chocolate. The wine list is also long and ranges around the world. Thus, it is decidedly not health food, but it is healthy food. Nothing seemed to be layered with cream sauces.

We had a crab and avocado dish atop fresh tomato coulis from the specials list to start with a glass of pinot grigio. Good crab, good avocado, interesting sauce, and a nice presentation. My wife had the pot au feu and I tried the osso bucco with a bottle of the Gran Coronas from Spain (about $25). The dishes were well-prepared and tasty, but the presentations were over the top. Dessert was another Thierry concoction: perfect, fresh strawberries in "vervein ice tea with French bread". After a peek at the French menu, we saw that the dish was accompanied by "pain perdu", literally "lost bread", but what we in the US call "French toast". Vervein in French is verbena in English, or lemon verbena, which is sometimes used to make tea. It has a very potent lemon flavor and must be used sparingly, but complements the sweetness of the strawberries and the French toast. All in all, it was an interesting evening: interesting food in a wildly decorated dining room with food from around the world translated through Thierry's senses and served by Sophie (French, and previously at Le Cottage in Grand Case) in a dining room run by Muriel, whose father was German. Bernard arrived as the night was ending and we had a great time discussing food, wine and language.

Rick

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