Fiji Stories and Tips

Denarau Dining: The Verandah and The Steakhouse

The Steakhouse, Sheraton Royal Denarau Photo, Fiji, South Pacific

Reviewing the four restaurants in the Sheraton resort complex on Denarau Isalnd, near Nadi, Fiji ...

The Verandah

As the name implies, the buffet-only Verandah is basically a large open-air ‘porch’ overlooking the ocean. Despite the impossibility of air conditioning, offsore breezes keep diners cool and comfortable.

I’d been attracted to the Verandah by an Intriguing menu item: ‘Turkey Piccata’ --- presumably a take-off on Italian veal piccata with a leaner meat. It turned out of be an enticing blend of turkey, capers, olives and just enough cheese to add zest and texture without piling on calories. Combined with a perfectly-baked but slightly bland walu (a kind of whitefish), it made a highly satisfying meal.

Salad-bar ingredients were routine --- the stuff you’d find in any American chain restaurant plus a few designer greens I didn’t recognize. However, there was a generous selection of cold seafood appetizers, including some delicious smoked oysters that nicely complemented my salad.

The meal was a pleasant, leisurely alternative to sit-down dinner service. There was a fine selection of wines by the bottle and an adequate choice by the glass; mostly New Zealand labels. Mixed drinks were well made and honestly priced.

The Steakhouse

This is an al fresco semi-outdoor restaurant for serious steak and seafood lovers. (So informal, in fact, that experienced guests dress for dinner with insect repellent on their exposed ankles.) But they enjoy SERIOUS food; I had flame-charred lobster tails three of my 12 nights on the island. They grill a mean steak as well.

Though the atmosphere was strictly South Pacific, the chef and his menu would have been right at home in an Old Town Chicago steakhouse.

The ideal time for dinner at the Steakhouse is a half-hour before sunset. Your pre-dinner cocktail will occupy the fading daylight and the appetizer will be accompanied by Fijian drummers performing the nightly torch-lighting ceremony. Then comes a candle-light dinner, lit only by the flare of torches along the beach, punctuated by the occasional light of a passing boat.

Service was prompt and professional; after only two nights there, the hostess and some of the servers were greeting me by name. Except for the fine-dining Ports O’ Call, with a larger and fancier selection, the Sheraton restaurants generally share the same wine list --- meaning a nice selection of mainly New Zealand reds and whites (the reds are the best). Another feature shared by all the Sheraton restaurants --- all too rare in many South Pacific venues --- is superb dinner-hour cocktail service. Not all of us use alcohol, but those who do will appreciate the ability to have a Manhattan or Martini made as well in Fiji as they expect to have it made back home.

All four of the Sheraton’s principal restaurants open at 6 p.m. for dinner only. The are open to non-hotel guests, but advance reservations are mandatory.

The Verandah is Recommended; the Steakhouse Highly Recommended.

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