Some of you may not know that I have been off island for a little bit to visit family and take a little break. No matter how beautifully perfect the place you live is, there’s always a need for an occasional breather. And COVID lockdowns, shut downs and quarantines gave me the itch to get away. I had an opportunity to sail from Puerto Rico to Connecticut this summer on an absolutely incredible sailing vessel called Kai. And I took it. And I’m so grateful for the journey.
But, we returned home this week and I cannot tell you how good it feels to be back! I’m sure you all can relate when I say that there is nothing quite like having the sandy soil of St. John between your toes for the first time in a while.
I flew back down last week and landed in Puerto Rico with TWO negative COVID tests in hand. Better safe than sorry? Ha! We sailed from Puerto del Rey Marina on the sailing vessel Asante and arrived at Water Island on Monday evening. The next morning, the bay was filled with boats and the bars on the beach seemed busy from our view at anchor. But, we did not stay to visit because St. John was just a few hours away!
The feeling of overwhelming excitement and anticipation that washed over me as STJ crept closer on the horizon line was indescribable.
After a long day of hauling luggage and provisions from the boat in Great Cruz Bay, collecting my pup from a friend’s place and my car from another, we stopped into 420 to Center for a quick dinner and drinks. We masked up and walked in to grab a table and were greeted by familiar faces from the kitchen, behind the bar and from neighboring tables. Mike Garbo, formerly of Joe’s Rum Hut, has taken over the kitchen there, dubbing it G’s Spot, and a lot of old favorites that once appeared on their menu have worked their way into his repertoire at 420.
One of my absolute favorite “fast food” options on St. John is the Superbad Grilled Cheese that I used to regularly order from Rum Hut when I was working a long day at Drink St. John. This is not your average grilled cheese. Parmesan buttered bread, multiple cheeses, tomato and sunflower seeds (add bacon!) make this sandwich a staple when I’m tired, hungry and want a quick bite. I am so happy that Garbo is back in action!
As we sat and waited for our food, everyone I would have liked to see in my first night back casually walked into the bar at different points in time (Love City :)). I was very excited to hear about some fun new things happening on island from all of them!
Megan from Maho Crossroads and her husband Nate, owner of Blue Line Yacht Charters, were the first to surprise me from behind. Megan and I worked alongside one another at Maho last year creating amazing musical events and experiences. Maho Crossroads is now open for business again at the food truck and Tiki Bar. I stopped by for a drink the following day and they have made some amazing changes to the property with some fun signage and an expansion of the Love Maho Beach Boutique.
I noticed a few people carrying the glass bottom kayak rentals up from the beach and they are so impressive. I can’t wait to take one out on the water!
Back to 420— Then, in walked Chester Mingo of the famed fried chicken and pig roasts on island. If you haven’t had Chester’s Fried Chicken, you are missing out! He lost his spot in the country in the aftermath of Irma and I have helped him create multiple “pop-up kitchens” at many different venues since then. He excitedly told me that he (FINALLY) found a spot and is opening a kitchen at The Windmill Bar at Neptunes lookout. I’m so incredibly excited for him and will update you when he is open for business.
The new executive chef from Ocean362 and his wife, the front of the house manager, walked in after work. Nate and Laura are doing some incredibly inventive things at the beautiful space located at Gallow’s Point resort. Nate, formerly of Sushi St. John and Asolare, has created a fun grab and go menu with brunch boxes, tacos for two and Korean Style Short Ribs. Laura is coordinating a five course pop-up dinner on December 12 with guest Chef Digby Stridiron of St. Croix. I worked with Nate at both Sushi and Asolare and am very excited that he is back on island creating great things! Laura previously worked at the Longboard and her wine and cocktail knowledge is top notch. I am certainly very excited about the new things on the horizon with them at the helm this season at Ocean 362.
Yesterday, we went out to listen to two of my favorite performers at two most amazing new venues! We grabbed a table at Lovango Rum Bar to listen to IslandGirlMusic- Erin Hart and take in the sunset views. The four of us tried almost every cocktail on the rum centric menu and none of them disappointed. We ordered the most incredibly generous charcuterie board I have ever had on island and some happy hour pizzas. You can get a one topping Neapolitan style pizza made with very high quality ingredients for $12 from 3-6PM and the drinks were all a dollar off. The food, drinks and ambiance were all on point and I can’t wait to go back again!
Then, we headed up to the Windmill Bar for Zach Deputy’s performance. They had creatively roped off the bar and were running drinks to patrons seated at various tables and benches around the stunning location. We thoroughly enjoyed being in the beautifully breezy space and seeing a lot more familiar (masked) faces! The new venue also houses tent camping sites and a disc golf course. It’s definitely a must stop to enjoy an amazing view, some live music, a cocktail and (soon come!) Chester’s fried chicken!
Well, it’s been a whirlwind of a week, but I certainly am excited to be back in Love City. There are A LOT of new things on the horizon here on St. John and I’ll be cruising around over the next week to get you all updated on what’s yet to come. We look forward to seeing our visitors return this season…It’s feeling like it is going to be a great year on St. John!