Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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#96182 - 01/21/05 03:30 PM Trip Report - North Side
debtslave Offline
A brief summary of our trip and dining experiences.

Mata Chica -- Lodging
My husband and I arrived one day before our friends so we spent the night at Mata Chica. A lovely resort. The cabana rooms were creatively appointed. The hot tub in front of the dining room was actually a "tepid tub", but we had encountered these in French Polynesia, so it wasn't surprising. We used the free kayak to paddle out to the reef and do some snorkeling. The resort is not a good value, but one night there was a nice way to quickly transition to vacation mode.

Calm Caye Villa -- Lodging
8 of us stayed in this lovely house in the Caye Villas, 4.5 miles north of San Pedro, next door to the Sundiver Resort. There are two bedrooms downstairs with double beds, a bedroom in the back with two single beds (the "kids room"), and a pullout couch upstairs in the living area. Because of all the bathrooms (4) and the porch and pool area (shared with four other villas), we never felt crowded. The decor throughout the house was very creative, and showcased the work of many local artists. The house is positioned well to catch the trade winds, so the only time it was at all buggy on the porch was when the wind would fade at twilight. Maid service every other day included in the rental fee. We did breakfast and lunch at the villa most days, and dinner one night on the grill. The rest of the time we ate out. There is a kayak with an anchor. Whenever the wind permitted two of us took it out to the reef and anchored north of the cut. Really good (and free) snorkeling. For a large group traveling together, Calm Caye Villa was a great value.

Lagniappe Provisioning
This was one of our best choices. Rather than us spending a valuable day of our vacation searching for groceries, Simon stocked our house with booze and food, including more eggs and limes than our husbands thought we would possibly use in a week. Everything we received was in good shape. However, we wished that we'd known beforehand that the tonic water on island was a vile imitation of the real thing. We still had most of a case left at the end of the week.

Armando's -- water taxi service
Armando took care of us all week. He arranged for snorkel trips to Mexico Rocks, Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley and for four of our group to go inland to go cave tubing and visit the zoo.

Mambo at Mata Chica -- Dinner
(5 miles north of San Pedro, 8 minute walk from Calm Caye Villa) My husband and I ate here the night before the rest of our group arrived. I'd read a lot about the restaurant before the trip and had high expectations, but frankly, it was disappointing. Everything was overly spiced/ sauced. No balance to the flavors.

Rojo Lounge at Azul -- Lunch/ Dinner/ Lots of Drinks
(5 miles north of San Pedro, 8 minute walk from Calm Caye Villa) This new restaurant just south of Mata Chica had some of the best food we had on the island. As they had just begun offering food service, the menu was limited (about 8 items) but everything was extremely well prepared and we had several lunches and dinners there. Very creative ceviches. Nice tortilla soup. Blackened snapper that was perfectly spiced. Extensive list of unusual cocktails that were well executed. The lounge itself is a very comfortable place to hang out -- long deep cushioned couches that convince you stay for another round, or two. They also have a projection screen and were quite happy to play DVD's for us, including the somewhat offensive "Triumph, the insult comic dog" DVD that we brought with us, and made a TV available so we could watch a playoff game.

Rendezvous -- Dinner
(3.5-4 miles north of San Pedro, 25 minute walk from Calm Caye Villa) French-Thai Restaurant. Avoid the house wine -- just terrible. Wish we'd been warned. Now that that is out of the way -- the food is divine. Do not miss the Thai lobster.

Capricorn -- Dinner
(3 miles north of San Pedro, it was raining so we took a water taxi). The stuffed grouper was the winner here, and may have been the best dish that any of us had during of the week. The steak and lobster were also quite nice. Two of us had the crab cakes, one loved them, the other was unenthused. This was our best fine-dining experience of the week.

Caliente -- Dinner and Chicken Drop
(in San Pedro). Tasty Mexican-Caribbean fusion. They could beef up their tequila selection and offer more creative margaritas, but the food was terrific. Best conch fritters of the week. The most affordable dinner we had -- so Caliente would be our value choice.

Spindrift at Sundiver -- Dinner
(4.5 miles north of San Pedro, 1 minute walk from Calm Caye Villa) Very mixed experience here. The service was attentive and sweet, but the entrees were hit or miss.

Jambal Jerk -- Post-snorkeling snack
I missed this meal but the folks who participated really enjoyed it.

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#96183 - 01/21/05 09:54 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
joeyde Offline
I thought I was the only one who thought Mata Chica was not worth the cost. We ( family of 4) stayed for a week prior to departing to Placencia for 5 days and felt it was much too expensive for what was offered. We loved Belize and will return but would not stay there again. There are much better values in town. Unfortunately we found out after we arrived.Live and learn.

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#96184 - 01/21/05 10:55 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
CHOOCHOO Offline
Rendevous - Yup, ya got that right. The food that is. In June we found the Chardonay quite nice and even bought some for the condo. The Red however, is quite possibly the worst tasting stuff of any type that I have ever drank. Dreadful would be mild. Mrs. CC is a consumate wine drinker and will tough it through about anything. After two sips I swear she looked green. Great for the holidays, red and green.

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#96185 - 01/22/05 04:46 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
RICH GUY Offline
Has anyone stayed at Portofino, it's right next door to Mata Chica. I found it the perfect mix between rustic and luxury.
_________________________
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http://www.richguy.com

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#96186 - 01/25/05 04:55 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
debtslave Offline
Rendevous - someone ordered a glass of chardonay, and passed it off to their less-picky husband. Several people ordered sangria made from the red wine (how bad could it be, even wine from a box makes decent sangria). But there was literally something wrong with the wine. Like it was corked. But the husband/owner wouldn't agree that there was a thing wrong with it. He took the pitcher to amend the mixture, but it came back tasting just as bad as before. Really undrinkable.

The bizarre thing is that the food is as good as the wine is bad. But because of the wine, we were all really concerned about how dinner would turn out. It is a tough way to start a meal, and a heck of a hurdle for even a good kitchen to overcome. Luckily the chef/wife is a terrific cook, and rescued the meal. The expressions of relief displayed around the table as people took their first bites were hilarious.

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#96187 - 01/25/05 05:30 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
horse Offline
Has anyone eaten at the place across from Sweet Basil? I think its called Hamelton's.If so how is it?

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#96188 - 01/25/05 06:59 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
Nick Barton Offline
We had lunch at Hameltons, on their veranda, last summer when we were out there. We enjoyed the food and the service was friendly.
The only downside - it was a day when the wind dropped to nothing and we got quite badly bitten by some unpleasant winged creatures (not sure if it was mossies or sand flies).

We will definitely go again on a breezy day!

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#96189 - 01/25/05 09:46 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
CHOOCHOO Offline
debtslave,

Well nothing's changed at Rendevous. The husband/wife must have a yin and yang thing going on. She was uncommonly gracious, he on the other hand, was just extraordinarily rude.

The food was great, although my wife and sister had French style shrimp casserole dish that would have been a lot better had they been told that the shrimp still had the tails on. Must be a European thing, but damn hard on gringo throats.

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#96190 - 01/25/05 10:44 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
Barbara K Offline
I have found that most places now leave the shrimp tails on. Had it happen a quite a few places recently (in Belize and US). Must make them look larger or something. Or just less work for the cook?
_________________________
www.barbsbelize.com

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#96191 - 01/25/05 11:49 PM Re: Trip Report - North Side
CrackerLarry Offline
Gives ya something to hold them by :-)

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