I had similar thoughts. I had been there twice in the last year, the second time was giving them a second chance and that was last summer. Both times the food was so far from where it was when I first started going there … at least over five years ago. Never like having to X a place that used to be dependable.
Since my wife and I pretty much planned our trip based on the reviews here, I thought it was only right to finally do a quick review of our time in St. Martin. Have let a few slip through my fingers (Barca/NYC/LA etc ...) but thought since the island doesn't have heaps of reviews we'd throw in our two cents.
Went for our honeymoon the third week of October in Cul de Sac and stayed at Karibuni Lodge. Incredible views all day from sunrise to sunset, that alone was worth the trip.
First night went straight to Ti Bouchon as it was just about a 5-10 min walk from where we were staying. There are plenty of reviews of both Ti Bouchon and Momo and we'd pretty much be echoing the positive experiences of so many others. It was very quiet on the island and we closed the place up eating a wonderful meal and getting to know our host (and visa versa haha). Started with the Lobster ravioli that has been noted here before. Done two ways, in a broth that was finished with cilantro, and another that had lemongrass. Our mains were a Tuna steak on a ratatouille and scallops that were topped with candied orange. Finished with a creme catalan for desert, which was a nice memory of a trip we had taken to the Pyrenees a few years back. All in all a great start to the trip.
The next day kayaked over to Pinel and had lunch at Karibuni. We never went to the spot next to it so can't compare but we are pretty happy as long as the food is fresh and that was the case here. Perhaps a little pricey but certainly cannot complain about anything in terms of our meal. Trying to keep the bill somewhat respectable, we had the lagostine salad and grilled shrimp and a bottle of white. On a good roll in terms of food ...
Until we went out that night. Trying to keep things a bit cheaper this night we went to Villa Pizza that was well reviewed here. Unfortunately it was an off night and cannot figure out what the deal was. There were about three other table of two through the night (at no point more than six people dining) and everyone was complaining how it was taking over an hour to get one pizza. I've never experienced that kind of wait, and there was no take out going on so it was completely bizarre and to be honest the pizza was ok at best.
So the next day we went all out and had dinner at Sol E Luna. I didn't see too many reviews of it here but would say if you are looking for a special night, this place has to be up there. We really loved Ti Bouchon (and went back on our last night) but I think the overall meal was better at Sol E Luna. The main difference of course is Sol E Luna has a more fine dining feel, while Ti Bouchon has a much more casual feel, but the food still being refined. The service is very professional, and while in comparison to Ti Bouchon might seem a bit stuffy, I thought the gentleman who was on the floor was a very good host and helpful taking us through the meal. We started with mussels that were in a cream/white wine/saffron broth - outstanding. For our mains, my wife had scallops that had a bit of an asian slant in a vodka sauce but with bok choy and sesame seeds. I had melange of seafood in a lobster bisque which was really something else.
The next night we went to Pic Paradise which was a very beautiful setting as we went early enough to see the sun go down and enjoy dusk. While we loved everything there, it didn't quite stack up to the nights before. However, the prices were reasonable and more tapas style so really we could not complain. A combo of beef carpaccio, cajun chicken and sashimi now sounds super bizarre but we had had a few drinks by that point and I don't think i cared! HAHAHA
As noted, the last night we went back to Ti Bouchon as it was just around the corner from us and wanted to keep it low key. Well what do you know it was Momo's birthday! We were welcomed back and had another outstanding night. We had a calamari starter that was appeared to have been cooked down in a delicate tomato sauce, which might sound strange but it was perfectly done. We had the same mains but switched it around and finished with a decadent chocolate mousse. The final touch was Momo bringing out a bottle of cognac from 1978 to celebrate his big day. On my. Well it was a special night to end a great trip.
This was quite long and hopefully a few helpful things here to the next people who go to St. Martin/Cul de Sac. The one thing I can say is how impressive it was that despite it being low season and restaurants being very quiet, both Ti Bouchon and Sol E Luna showed so much passion to still cook wonderful, refined food despite it only being for a handful of people on a given night. Closing down Ti Bouchon on our last night, sitting with Momo and his chefs leaning out the window chatting was a very special experience and I know we cannot wait to come back to the island!