on February 22, 2011
For a trip down the rabbit hole of Antiguan cuisine, let Big Banana be your guide. The main restaurant is located in Redcliffe Quay, downtown St. Johns, while the other branches are situated within the V. C. Bird International airport in Coolidge and Dickenson Bay. Big Banana provides customers with a wide variety of scrumptious dishes, regardless of the time of day.Big Banana Holding Co. has created quite a name for itself within Antigua for over 21 years. Pizzas were the main attraction for the restaurant, as two decades ago, fast food was slowly introducing itself to the Caribbean as a whole. Since then, their slogan became "Pizzas in Paradise".In the minds of countless locals, the slogan should be upgraded to "Best Pizzas in Paradise" and I must agree with them. For the past 2 weeks alone, I have paid 3 visits to the restaurant in downtown St. Johns.Although the prices attached to the meals prepared at Big Banana border on expensive by local standards, many residents are frequent visitors. It is quite a common sight to see many tables reserved for important celebrations such as graudations and birthday parties, as well as friends and couuples grabbing a bite to eat for lunch. The Big Banana in Redcliffe Quay is the most popular of the three locations, and this is mainly due to the special layout of the restaurant. This branch is separated into two parts. There is a regualr indoor room which promotes a more itimate setting, and an outdoor 'tree house' section, where a verandah is actually built around a very large tree. The terrace area of the restaurant has a very open air feel, with lots of shade and ventilation supplied by the tropical breeze. The two segments are equipped with their own mini bar, stocking some of the best brands of alcohol and beer. This ensures that drink orders never take long to be fulfilled. Above the mini bars, both outside and inside, were large flat screen tvs which mainly seemed to show sports and music videos.The downtown branch is the only location which doesn't provide a large area for parking. During the day, it is highly unlikely to find a free parking spot anywhere nearby. However, there is a parking lot located behind of the restaurant which charges a nominal fee of USD $0.75 per hour. This parking lot is open most days a week from 7am to 5pm. In the evenings, most of the free parking spots are empty and it is much more likely for customers to find a space immediately infront of, or very close to the entrance.All three restaurants are manned by the most efficient staff, which are hand picked based on their skill as well as personality. All of the waiters which I have encountered during my visits were very friendly and attempted to make small talk with their clients. The bartenders were cheerful and cracked numerous jokes while they prepared my drinks with finesse. However, enough cannot be said about the chefs, the magicians behind the scene. All of my meals were served warm and the presentation was commendable in my opinion. I remember ordering a seafood pasta with linguine noodles which actually forced moans of genuine appreciation from my lips. On my most recent visit, I had the following for lunch:Grilled mahi mahi with rice and french fries $16.30Pina Colada $5.55Total cost: $21.85 (prices are in USD)For the quality of food received, I found the prices to be very reasonable, and I definitely got my money's worth.
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