THE RESTO MANIFESTO | Da Vine, Harbour Island
Welcome back to Cacique’s Resto Manifesto, a well-seasoned, impassioned guide to The Bahamas’ rapidly evolving culinary scene. There’s no shortage of food-focused, travel Instagram feeds that will direct you to the tastiest, most photo-ready oyster shucked, rooftop venue in cities like Paris, London or New York. But when you’re faced with the make-or-break dilemma of where to wine and dine in The Bahamas - a destination less travelled by trustworthy critics - the recommendations become all the more vital.
We’ve canvassed our epicurean inner circle and devised a guide that will become your “last meal” lifeline to eating your way around this soulful archipelago. Today we find ourselves perusing the frilled shores of Harbour Island. With an appetite for flamboyant dishes we wound up at Da Vine, a wine bar gone innovative Japanese extraordinaire with an island ethos that keeps them coming! Sushi is a major food group nowadays, in fact its practically a religion with a devoted following, which it is completely entitled to. And so the ever-famed California Roll has made it’s way down the west coastline, riding Nobu’s sesame encrusted coattails, right the way down to Briland’s merry shores. Da Vine is an island “high street” dining venue with the former head chef of Nobu Atlantis at the helm and the highest grades of whatever is running in his arsenal. Da Vine is the island's compact, buzzing harbourside culinary cottage well worth your greatest and most voracious appetite. The curious combinations of the freshest ingredients from on island and around the world are all the more enjoyable against a Briland sunset.
Well, I hope you’re hungry …
The Story to Sushi.
Not entirely sure that there is a better setting than palm-fringed, Harbour Island. The mood is decidedly friendlier and the space is warm, welcoming and nothing short of top notch. But what could possibly be better than snagging a seat at this seasoned seafood bar you ask? Well the answer is simple, Da Vine began as a prestigious Wine Store, housing 180 of the world’s finest blends. So now, while you order the island’s kaiseki ryouri you can sip on the world’s most celebrated wines with a smile because it truly is better in The Bahamas.
Da Vine is owned by four local partners - Ali Alexiou, Captain Bob and brothers Paul and Richard King and their lovely wives Jen Alexiou, Rita King and Linda Griffin are chief in counsel. The entire team calls Harbour Island home. Cumulatively, they felt that there was a gapping hole in the bar scene of this well-to-do little island. Serving an international jet-setting crowd, inspiring drinks are a must-have and the wine department was dry. Da Vine set out to be the bustling hub’s guide to all things grape. They created a body of wines as varied as they are delicious, all globally sourced, that can be enjoyed from their cozy, warm-hearted spot on the harbour. After three successful years of operation as a Wine Store/ Bar they decided to add an elaborate sushi station to the mix. The food matched anything served in a glass and so the sushi grew from a station into an all encompassing menu. In less than a year, Da Vine's sushi contingent grew and the head chef's right hand man had taken the plunge and puddle jumped his way to island living at its finest. He expanded their popularized menu to incorporate an ‘asian fusion’ flair that aims to please on a high level of execution. Today, the intimate setting keeps the spotlight on the man behind the sushi counter which is where Da Vine is firmly seated - A pioneering Sushi/Asian fusion restaurant with steadfast specialities rooted in the classics. The bonus is that they know a thing or two about wine and keep a top tier selection on hand.
Inspired by the Sea.
Three of the partners have hands in Captain Bob’s Market Place, a local up-market food store, and so were led straight to the top of what the US Markets have available regarding Asian cuisine. A large part of the menu is made up of local fish including Wahoo, Tuna, Stone Crab and Conch. They have an established relationship with a local farmer who supplies fresh produce including micro greens. Given the line of work, Da Vine requires small installments of fresh fish regularly. Unfortunately, the local fisherman are able to sell 80lbs to a traditional restaurant when Da Vine only needs 10lbs as it needs to be very fresh and used quickly and so they tend to take their catch elsewhere. Long term, Da Vine intends to have a boat and crew that fishes daily to supply the restaurant with a fresh catch.
The exquisite menu is pretty solidified by popular demand but it is forever being added to. The favorites are Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice, Fois Grois Crispy Rice and the Junkanoo Roll. The varied, non-traditional sushi rolls are also outstanding in their precision and distinguished in their flavors. Sushi ninja, Chef Reynaldo has more than earned his creative license with ingredients in the less traditional realm and it never disappoints. The owners propose flavors or ingredients that they’d like to see more of and the chefs methodically reach deeper into the fridge and moments later something masterful appears. Chef Reynaldo’s two wizards: Rosauro Taruc and David Lapastora rise to any culinary challenge with playful grins. Together these masterminds have permanently changed Harbour Island’s culinary scene for the better. When not in the mood for sushi, owner Paul King is first to admit that he’ll be paying a visit to his favorite Italian eatery, Aquapazza, just minutes down the road.
Cacique Culinary Experiences.
For us at Cacique, we believe in pushing boundaries - be it food, art, music or alternate spaces. That is why we are always on the look-out for new, breathtaking venues to make experiences and tastebuds come alive. For enquiries about Da Vine or culinary experiences or events with Cacique International, please feel free to contact us.