Every year Michael Winner spends his Christmas holidays in Barbados, staying at the world famous Sandy Lane Hotel. It’s arguably one of the most unique places in the world to see and be seen at that festive time of year, with room rates approaching $ 3,000 per night with a 14-night minimum stay. Does not include food or drink. Let go of the dogs!
And as he does every year on his return to London, Michael Winner publishes a Barbados Restaurant Review in the “Winners Dinners” column of the Sunday Times. Restaurant managers and owners have been known to enter DEFCOM 3, high alert when “Winner, Sandy Lane, 444-2000” appears in their reservation book. His ascerbic wit (a cruel statement) and his style of restaurant criticism without taking prisoners makes both fans and naysayers agree on one thing: you either love him or you hate him.
Michael Winner has made more than 30 films in his career as a director. His best known film was probably DEATH WISH, starring Charles Bronson. But his weekly Winner’s Dinners column for The Sunday Times is how foodies from the UK and the US know him best. Visit the best restaurants in the world, then give an overview of what went wrong, what went right, or both.
In his recently released Barbados Review on February 10, Michael Winner mentioned how the food on Sandy Lane had gone under last Christmas season. However, he still ate 35 lunches and dinners there, and only went out seven times. One of the restaurants he visited was The Fishpot, a restaurant he had never visited in the 25 years since his arrival in Barbados. Fishpot Restaurant, with its 21-room hotel across the street, is owned by Andrew and Patricia Warden. The winner stated that The Fish Pot is “absolutely fantastic …”
Winner was not so kind to The Cliff, calling it “the so-called great Barbados landfill.” Twisting the knife, he went on to say that it was “the most overbooked second-class place in the world.” Oh. We do not share Mr. Winner’s virulence of having dined there recently with friends. Maybe a little stuffy, but we were in our own little world and tuned into little annoyances like having water glasses refilled in the middle of a sip — less is more, please. We’ll agree with your comment about the boring nonchalance and affected attitude of the twenty-something front desk staff, but we found it all vaguely funny in a kind of WHO IS THE EMPLOYEE AND WHO IS THE CUSTOMER. All things considered, more good than bad.
Another restaurant that felt the wrath of his indigestion was Daphne’s, Daphne’s sister restaurant in London. Winner said Daphne’s “occasionally has reasonable food, but the service is so slow that everyone complains in high volume.” We too have found the service to be spotty, but General Manager Marco Pavone works very hard to overcome the mentality of some waiters on the island that is the Achilles heel for most restaurants in Barbados. Daphne’s consistently offers quality, innovative Italian cuisine, and the view can’t be beat.
But number one on Winner’s Barbados hit chart was The Fishpot. “Turn left out of Sandy Lane and drive 25 minutes past endless fences hiding the next apartment blocks and foreboding signs in the wasteland that say: Privileged residential site for sale. Finally, you arrive in old Barbados. There is little wooden houses, beachside market stalls, reed beds and an aura of better times. ” That is a Bajan version of MAPQUEST. “In Fishpot you sit by the sea, in an old 17th century fort. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. It’s what Caribbean life should be like.”
Michael Winner first went to lunch with Richard Hanlon, who he says is his “favorite interior designer,” and was so impressed that he returned to dinner with music mogul Lucian Grainge and his wife.
“For lunch, Fishpot had fresh local lobsters, which is more than Sandy Lane could offer at the time. They featured lobsters from Belize that must have been on ice for so long that all of their spirit and structure was gone.”
Another Restaurant Review is coming soon and we understand it is talking about another of our favorite restaurants, the Lone Star. Winner has been a long-time Lone Star fan, but you never know if a sick WINNER is going to fly. We await your words, kind sir, holding our breath.