Paradise Found

Blogalicious hit the Bahamas last week, and after a wacky first night on Cable Beach (read about it here), moved over to Paradise Island. Expecting theme park food and watery margaritas, we instead found airy conch fritters, prosciutto-draped pizzas, jerk chicken wraps, cardamom panna cotta, and not one but two Jean-Georges restaurants. The first, Dune, is located at One&Only's Ocean Club, a plantation-style hotel that sprawls across reflecting pools, Versailles gardens, and Balinese massage villas with personal waterfall showers. The serene hotel feels like a Palm Beach country club, and the clientele follow suit, wealthy couples wearing winter white and WASPy sunburns. Rife with unexpected Asian flavor, dark and sexy Dune gives Ocean Club a little fire, including coconut soup and a sublimely moist mahimahi crusted with mild Malaysian spices. Vong's other spot is the elegant Cafe Martinique, nestled between merchants in Atlantis's faux Bahamian streetscape, Marina Village. Ascending in the wrought iron birdcage elevator to the second-story dining room is so money. Pre-dinner drinks on the lounge's whitewashed balcony is even better, overlooking yachts bobbing in the harbor below. With a glass of crisp rose and tray of marble-sized wasabi peas, buttery cashews, and five spice-crusted almonds, we realize Atlantis is definitely not only for kids. Dinner drips with Le Bec-like luxury, but really powers through with interesting combinations: gorgeous beef tenderloin with a fig-miso mash and a ruby stripe of red miso reduction; sauteed foie gras in a candy-like kaffir lime broth; and the aforementioned cardamom panna cotta. It's perfectly gelled, exotic and herbal and not too sweet, punched up with jewels of pineapple and golf ball of icy basil sorbet. We're not kidding ourselves with fantasies that Vong is behind the line, but this was still one of the best meals we've had in while. The royal fam must agree; the Queen was hosting a party for Charlie's brother Edward the following night. For something more casual, try pizzeria Zio Gigi, right outside the Atlantis complex, you'll swear you're somewhere in Europe. Sit outside and enjoy the people watching: a tanned five-some of French model-types chain smoking Marlboro Lites, Italians rapidly chattering and quaffing red wine, and plenty of dogs lounging about. The pizzas are small but insane, with a cracker-crisp crusts dotted with air bubbles, and toppings like Gorgonzola, prosciutto, and roasted red peppers. Paradise Island is a foodie's paradise. Even the Atlantis poolside grub rocks: ceviche-style conch with lime and tomatoes, spicy spinach tortillas hugging jerked chicken, barbequed chicken sandwiches. Adding to it's Vegas-like arsenal, there's also a Nobu and an upcoming Mesa Grill. You next, Joel Robuchon?

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