Part of the amenities at Secrets Wild Orchid in Montego Bay, Jamaica is a scale in the bathroom of the gorgeously appointed suites. Given the sheer preponderance of great dining options at Secrets, we're not so sure that's a good idea.
You can't go wrong eating anywhere at this resort, which sits side-by-side with Secrets St. James (both boasting 351 suites of varying luxury) and an entire section of Jamaican all-inclusive resorts. Most of the restaurants are on the shared Promenade, which is on the Wild Orchid side -- making it easy to get to from your suite and then waddle back fully fed.
Bordeaux at Wild Orchid
Of all of our dining excursions, we most enjoyed the luxury of Bordeaux at Wild Orchid, a French restaurant of delightful cuisine. They're pretty strict about dress codes at the restaurants here; no shorts, gentlemen, sorry. But when a couple of us showed in shorts (and collared shirts) one night, they were more than gracious about letting us dine outside, at first on the patio but then as more of us showed up, they went above and beyond setting up a larger table outside on the Promenade itself, a glorious al fresco way to enjoy some truly remarkable French cuisine.
There is a set menu at the restaurant but the choices of what you can get -- one or all -- was laudable.
- First Course - We started out with Feuillette de Moules et pommes au Calvados -- sauteed mussels and apples cooked in a creamy white wine sauce with Calvados apple brandy, and fresh herbs, served in a puff pastry shell that was flaky and full of the most delicious mussels you can imagine.
- Second Course - For the second course, we went with bouillabaisse, a traditional seafood soup brimming with fish and shellfish, parsley, tomatoes and cognac ... absolutely delicious. Others in our party opted for goat cheese baked in crispy filo served with salad and onion confit, and another one of us went with the Normandie onion soup. Nothing was a bad choice.
- Entree - For the entree, we tried the filet de sautes en legumes roti -- sauteed tenderloin with fondant potatoes, roast root veggies and Madeira sauce -- and found it one of the most delicious treatments of beef we'd ever had.
- Dessert - Dessert was mandatory; we'd made a pact before dinner began to eat everything they could possibly offer -- and the sour sop cheesecake, using a native fruit, was one of the best cheesecake variations ever, and certainly the most unusual we'd ever tried.
The service is extraordinary, friendly, fast and informed, and the constant flow of great French wine certainly helped imbue the evening with an overall sense of elegance and luxury.
But there are so many other options here, it's hard to know where to go and what to eat. For breakfast, We always went to the World Cafe, a long, all-encompassing buffet of extraordinary variety, including traditional Jamaican breakfast of saltfish and ackee (a fruit that resembles scrambled eggs), boiled green banana, calaloo and as much fresh Jamaican fruit as we could handle, washing it down with potent Jamaican coffee and the occasional smoothie (try the nut smoothie, it's terrific). The Jamaican porridge is exquisite, too, smooth, silky and just begging to be lumped up with chopped fresh fruit.
If you're an early-morning riser and need a jolt of caffeine to start your day, wander over to Coco Cafe, a small area near the recreational room and stores, which opens at 6 a.m., and where you can get all manner of fresh pastries as well.
Other dining options include Oceana, oceanside Tex-Mex lunches; Blue Mountain, serving Jamaican-Caribbean food for dinner only; El Patio, boasting Mexican fare, dinner only; Himitsu, Pan-Asian fusion for dinner only and the only place you need reservations as the Teppanyaki tables are most popular; Portofino, Italian cuisine, dinner only.
You'll never go thirsty here, either, with a variety of imbibing options. We found the Barracuda bar the best, right on the beach with swing seats and sofas all around, though it closes at 6 p.m., which is unfortunate. But no matter, you can amble over to the Piano Bar at the end of the Promenade, a gorgeous bar-in-the-round with live music inside and out; one night, they had a stage set up outside and a local reggae specialist doing his thing late into the night. Also, both resorts have terrific swim-up bars to idle up to.
Overall, you can't go wrong anywhere you eat at Secrets, Jamaica. Just ignore the scale in your room later.