Despite the thriving food and wine scene that contributes much to Melbourne's appeal, one cuisine seems to be sadly lacking and that's fresh, exotic Caribbean. As such, my experience with the cuisine has been rather limited; gleaned only from a one week work trip to Colombia early in 2014 and one other Melbourne restaurant prior to the opening of Windsor's Saint Lucia.
The menu also takes its cues from the Cuban and South American surrounds of the Caribbean Islands. I experienced some of the tasty delights on offer by Saint Lucia during a bloggers event to launch a dessert special. The evening kicked off in true Caribbean style with coconut rum cocktails, complete with a cocktail umbrella. All that was missing was some sunshine and the tranquil blue waters of the Caribbean.
Our taste buds were first treated to some silky fresh ceviche and crispy plantain chips; key food staples of the region it seems as previous encounters with the cuisine also saw the serving of similar dishes. The tangy sweetness of the coconut and lime curing liquid was deliciously unique and left quite an impression. Well seasoned with paprika salt and paired with a spicy sweet chipotle mayo, the saying once you pop, you can't stop seems to apply to the plantain chips. A cross between risotto and paella, and packed to the brim with flavour, the jambalaya was exactly as described on the menu: Creole comfort food. Flavours vary on a weekly basis and ours came with chicken, chorizo and pippis.
The star attraction of the evening was the La Roche Flambe; a true sight to behold. Emulating a volcano, the ginger cake was filled with a lava-like blood orange mousse and hot caramel, and was set on fire prior to consumption. Cue the ooohs and aaaahs. The dessert however didn't quite live up to the heights of earlier dishes given my dislike of ginger and the strong alcoholic presence imparted by the burning Grand Marnier.
Wooed by the menu, we decided to stick around following the launch event to soak up more of the Caribbean flavours on offer, ordering another main and some sides. We've all heard of jerk chicken before but jerk salmon? It's a thing and it's damn delicious. Marinated in their house jerk sauce, the sweetness of the salmon fillet contrasted beautifully with the abundance of spice and the fresh pineapple salsa. The flavour-packed smokey paprika-seasoned roast cauliflower and buttery, grilled Cuban corn cobs made for tasty accompaniments, although the mac and cheese could have done with more cheese.
With some warmer weather on the way (here's hoping anyway), why not further immerse yourself into Caribbean life with a tasty and fresh Caribbean spread from Saint Lucia? Now for some tranquil blue waters...
78 Chapel St,
Windsor, Victoria, 3181.
(03) 9530 2085
Disclosure: I attended the launch event courtesy of Saint Lucia and Zilla & Brook Publicity and Production. The second half of our meal was paid for by ourselves. All opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit.