I love finding great spots to eat when traveling, you can learn so much about the people and the culture through the food. The best way to find great restaurants is to ask the local people. I prefer to eat where the locals eat, it gives you the best experiences.
Let’s start with a fine dining restaurant at the Legends Resort, La Villa Des Sens. It is very easy to get to if you are staying at the Intercontinental, it is a mere walk across the two lane road. Set on a hillside with a birds eye view of the lagoon. The decor is very modern and comfortable. The open air restaurant serves exquisite French cuisine. Don’t mind the gecko’s that roam the ceiling, they don’t bother you and are considered good luck. They add to the atmosphere. French bread was brought to the table and there is something about french bread in French Polynesia, it is addictive. After the bread was served our server delivered an Amuse Bouche. We had miniature chicken skewers with lemongrass, an onion tart and a bite of seared Ahi atop a french ratatouille. Each bite was pure perfection. If this is any indication of what our meals will be, we will have the perfect meal.
The appetizer of scallops and tuna was served atop a tropical fruit and frisee salad, everything was incredible. The filet mignon and chicken with a lemongrass sauce was mouthwatering amazing. The passion fruit souffle finished the meal off with a smooth and flavorful cafe au lait. The presentation was beautiful, the food was seasoned perfectly and cooked exactly as ordered. The service was first class and attentive.
When asking a few of the locals of another recommendation, several said try Le Mayflower, it is local. Sounds great to me. However, we ran out of nights, so we rode our scooter down to the restaurant. They do offer taxi service for approximately $5 USD to pick you up at your hotel.
This little restaurant sits next to the highway in a very nondescript building, so if you are driving yourself, just pay attention as you can easily miss it. The lunch and dinner menu’s are the same, so if you are there for lunch you aren’t going to miss anything.
Le Mayflower has a very local feel, nothing fancy, but the food is unique and excellent. The lobster ravioli is served in a cream sauce. The lobster is delicate and full of flavor and the sauce paired perfectly to the ravioli. I had not ever had blue cheese ravioli, so was all over that when I saw it on the menu. Wow, these perfect little pillows were soft, delicate and bursting with flavor, every bite was amazing. The pesto cream sauce was light in flavor, but added another dimension to the dish. I have died and gone to blue cheese heaven. The dessert was layers of sweet cream, divided by lace tuile cookies and edged in strawberries. Have you ever had a meal that you didn’t want to end? We did and this was it.
Lastly, I will tell you about a little roadside type eatery that one of the locals told us about. He said it is where the locals love to eat, so we stopped for lunch as it is only open for lunch. Snack Mahana, is a roadside type stand built next to the house. They have plenty of seating in the backyard right on the lagoon. At one end of the backyard, the laundry was hanging on the line, that is how local this cafe is. The food is all very fresh, delicious and the cooks really treat the ingredients with such respect and love. As food is being delivered to tables, the servings are large, so we decide to split the meal. Mahi mahi marinated in coconut milk, fried with coconut milk over the top. I am not a seafood eater typically, but this was fabulous. The fish was fresh, crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. I can understand why the locals love this spot and the tourists have discovered it. So my recommendation to you is that you get there early. They do tend to run out of dishes, so don’t miss out.