My spouse and I enjoyed dinner at Blanchards on a Friday evening in late April 2016. Blanchards is open for dinner only on Tuesdays through Saturdays (closed on Sundays and Mondays). We made a reservation via email a few weeks before our trip, and Melinda, the owner, was most pleasant when she initially confirmed it, then again when we needed to change our date. (Blanchards also participates in the Open Table online reservation system.) Reservations
are a must at this bustling restaurant – every single table was occupied on the evening that we dined, with several tables hosting large parties of 6-8 people. (The full occupancy at this restaurant surprised us, because every other establishment that we visited for both lunch and dinner on our 4-night stay on Anguilla was nearly empty!) The owners also operate Blanchards Beach Shack, located next door to Blanchards, which offers a casual dining (lunch) option in a laid-back environment beneath a thatched roof decorated with white string lights.
The first iteration of Blanchards opened in 1994, when the owners arrived from Vermont and built a restaurant in Meads Bay. The original building as well as several replacements were destroyed by hurricanes over the years, but the owners and staff continue to rebuild. Blanchards occupies an open-air cottage that showcases an airy white candlelit room with tile floors, ceiling fans, open teal shutters on the huge windows, and colorful artwork. (The couple’s son creates the artwork, some of which we admired, but the asking prices were “too rich for our blood”!) Fine china, crystal, and white linens adorn the tables at this restaurant, and the effect is pleasant. A small bar area that also houses two tiny tables and a sofa for lounging precedes the dining space; the dining area covers two levels, with the smaller rear level offering the best view of the sand and water.
Blanchards serves Caribbean fare that uses colorful presentations and varied ingredients. As a starter, we shared the lobster/fish cakes, which came two to an ordered and served on some greens with a dipping sauce. As our main courses, we ordered the citrus chicken scaloppini (served with mashed potatoes and spinach and covered with an orange/lime/lemon sauce) and the jerk chicken (spicy chicken [also available with a shrimp alternative] served with grilled bananas, mashed sweet potatoes, and cranberry chutney). For dessert, we shared the exceptional cracked coconut. Really too rich for one person to consume herself, this dessert contains a semi-sweet chocolate shell covered in toasted flaked coconut that is split in half and served with one half of the shell facing up (filled with creamy coconut ice cream that contains a divot of Kahlua or Baileys or some other liqueur), and the other (unfilled) half facing down. The chocolate shell is the approximate size and shape of a real coconut.
Although we did not order it, the Caribbean sampler, which arrives on a 3-tiered metal serving tray, looks impressive! It contains samples of three different main dishes: mahi mahi, crayfish, and jerk chicken. A 3-course pre-fixe menu is available, which initially seemed like a good value because it contained some of the dishes that we planned to order anyway, but then we realized that there was an upcharge for some of those very same items that we planned to order, such as the lobster cake starter and the coconut dessert, negating the cost savings. (After seeing the coconut dessert, we can understand the upcharge, but we cannot say the same for the seafood cake appetizer, which seemed somewhat ordinary and was not packed with protein).
Smith was our primary waiter, and he was not as professional or formal as we would have liked. For example, Smith compelled us to shake his hand as an introduction, which is a strange gesture to make in a restaurant before patrons are about to dine using their hands to consume bread/rolls, and so on (the handshake negates any recent hand-washing).
Our meal at Blanchards was our second-most expensive dinner on Anguilla, but we enjoyed it because of the lively atmosphere of the restaurant and the adorable cottage that houses it. We thought that the cracked coconut dessert was outstanding in terms of presentation, originality, and of course, taste. (In fact, the owners have appeared on the national US TV program “The Today Show” to showcase their unusual dessert.) Don’t miss an opportunity to order it!