I hate beets. There, I said it. My parents may have extolled the virtues of the purple root vegetable to me throughout my upbringing, but I have just never, ever liked them. Call me crazy, but a beet's earthy texture and taste is just straight up gross.
But on a recent trip to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, I ate, er, drank my words. My disdain for beets disappeared the moment I had my first sip of Seaside Cafe's beet mojito.
About Seaside Cafe
As the onsite dining option for Ocean Club West Resort, Seaside Cafe is primarily known for feeding the guests of the resort's 86 suites.
But with its large patio and friendly staff, the open-air restaurant is a worthy resting spot while walking the length of beautiful Grace Bay Beach—if only for that delicious beet mojito (I christened it the mobeeto—but it sadly didn't seem to catch on).
The Beet Mojito
The brainchild of restaurant staffer Kamario Smith, the beet mojito won Best Mojito at the 2009 Conch Festival, a raucous annual festival that celebrates the popular marine snail. And if it broke my undying hatred for beets, then that award is well-deserved.
It's a simple concept—just as with a traditional mojito, the standard ingredients are there: mint, soda water, lime and, of course, rum.
But where this mojito gets twisted is with a tablespoon of beet puree (see full recipe and instructions below). The end result? A sweet and delicious drink that's just about the prettiest shade of fuchsia you've ever laid eyes on.
Seaside Cafe's Menu
The liquid offerings of Seaside Cafe aren't the only reason to stop by. The menu boasts a hodge-podge mix of American and Caribbean fare. Overall, I'd rate the value as above-average—prices are fairly decent and portions are commendable.
The breakfast menu features all of the morning standards: eggs, bagels, pancakes, french toast and fruit. I liked the Make Your Own Omelette for $12, which includes home fries and toast—diners choose two items (from bacon, ham, sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms and spinach) and one cheese (American or mozzarella).
A basic breakfast, to be sure, but one that will fill you up for a day of lounging on the beach or snorkelling.
The Conch Burger
In Turks and Caicos, conch is king. You'll find it on most menus, and Seaside Cafe is no exception. From the tomato-based conch chowder ($7) to conch salad (a ceviche-like salad with chopped raw conch, tomatoes, spicy scotch peppers and red onions for $12), there are hits of conch throughout the lunch and dinner menu, along with sandwiches, salads, fish and meat.
But for a signature conch dish at Seaside Cafe, go with the conch burger ($14)—the winning "specialty conch" dish at the 2009 Conch Festival. While brainstorming different ways to prepare the ubiquitous conch, chef Nicola Giordano realized he had never seen it in burger form.
His inspired creation is a juicy, delicious burger that will have you rethinking beef. Crispy on the outside, the patty's inside houses a tender burst of flavour that's not fishy-tasting in the least. The dollop of calypso sauce beneath the burger is yummy—a light, spicy kick.
Make It Yourself
Can't make it to cafe yourself? The friendly folks at Seaside Cafe shared the recipes to their favourite drink and dish: the beet mojito and conch burger.
Beet Mojito Recipe
Advance prep: Boil a batch of beets until soft and puree in a blender until smooth.
• 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
• A few sprigs mint
• 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
• 1 tbsp. beet puree
• 1-1/2 ounces rum
• Sprite or soda water
In a tall tumbler or highball glass, muddle 5 lime wedges with mint and sugar until well crushed and juicy. Fill glass with ice. Add rum and beet puree. Stir well. Fill remaining glass with Sprite or soda water. Stir gently. Garnish with 1 lime wedge, a sprig of mint and a stick of sugar cane, if desired.
Conch Burger Recipe
• 3/4 cup ground conch meat
• 2 tbsp. diced red pepper
• 2 tbsp. diced green pepper
• 1 egg white
• 2 tbsp. diced red onion
• 2 tbsp. diced celery
• 2 and a 1/2 tbsp. half-and-half
• 2 and a 1/2 tbsp. flour
• A pinch of black pepper, chili powder or Caribbean spice
Mix all of the ingredients together and form into patties. Grill for 5 to 10 minutes per side on a hot grill, or until well done. Serve on a bun with slices of red onion, a leaf of lettuce and dill pickle, if desired.
*Chef Nicola Giordano wouldn't spill the ingredients of his calypso sauce (seriously, that man is the human equivalent of Fort Knox), so I'd experiment with your own mayo-based sauce to complement your homemade conch burger. My favourite? Mixing Helmann's mayo with a sizeable dash of Sriracha sauce.