To call The Cliff a Barbados institution is simple fact, not hyperbole. The award-winning, decades-old eatery, generally booked up a year in advance, lures fans with pre-fixe dinners that are the stuff of culinary fantasies. Enter The Cliff Beach Club, which debuted this June, right next door. If The Cliff is an elegant old standard, The Cliff Beach Club is its funky younger sister. There’s an a la carte menu, playful décor that evokes a space ship and a safari lodge at one and the same time, an in-house bakery—just knock on the small window by the entrance to collect your fresh baguettes—and a casual lunch menu. After its chef, Jeremy Dupire, blew me away at the New York City launch for next month’s annual Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival (foodwinerum.com)—his “octopus three ways” dish had everyone greedily coming back for seconds—I felt compelled, as a dutiful journalist, to investigate further. So I booked a table and kidnapped the chef for a chat.
The Cliff Beach Club
Explain the concept of The Cliff Beach Club. It’s more than just an extension of The Cliff, correct? The Cliff is a fine-dining restaurant, but the new restaurant is sort of like the brasserie of The Cliff, something trendy, more informal, casual—you can come in shorts, no dress code. If you want to come see the sunset with some bar snacks and a salad and a glass of wine, that’s The Cliff Beach Club.
The Cliff Beach Club by day
Chef Jeremy Dupire
What are some of your signature dishes? There are many French dishes, because I am French, but really the influence of the whole Mediterranean: sea bass, dover sole, whole fish. We receive French products every week from a huge market in Paris—80 percent of our veggies come from there. We have an octopus and a prawn dish with tropical flavors, a tiramisu that uses ginger instead of coffee, and a desert with Mount Gay rum infusion. We use local fish, and we love to promote local things like the organic farm that delivers an organic salad, organic chicken, wild salmon.
So it sounds like the local Barbados influence runs strong here. We use local pork and fish—tuna, dolphin, barracuda and octopus. I’m still new to the island so I’m still learning about the Bajan food, but we definitely use the spice, the curry, and we serve some fishcake; we use Bajan pepper sauce.
a Chef Jeremy creation
Fishcakes and pepper sauce: music to my ears! What is your background? I grew up in Guadaloupe for six years, then to Gabon, in Africa, for four years. I opened up a private beach club in Nice, France. I did my studies and my catering school in Marseille and opened my own restaurant in Avignon: Le Why Not, which did very well. I first came to Barbados last year—I stayed in Sandy Lane—and I loved it so much I decided to stay. So I sold my restaurant and decided to do a new experience. I went back and sold my restaurant in two months—and here I am.
That’s quite a dramatic move! What made you fall in love with Barbados? The weather is nice. The culture, the people are really interested in learning French food. The ambiance—Friday night in Oistins, the local fish fry, is really cool. I play golf, and there is really good golf here.
Any idea what you have planned for Food & Wine and Rum next month? I definitely plan to do something with organic bread, to promote the organic bakery. Something with organic fish that we can find in Barbados, to promote our food and the Bajan food, as well. Probably the octopus dish you tasted in New York, and maybe some pork belly ravioli with some, I don’t know, lobster.
Ambiance at The Cliff Beach Club
The octopus! Can you describe the dish that stole my heart? I did an octopus carpaccio, an octopus salad with pine nuts and smoked oil—we have our own smoker here; we smoke oil and salmon and cheese—and octopus tempura, all with seaweed crackers, fresh from our bakery.
What else can visitors expect from The Cliff Beach Club? We are going to have a floating jetty in place, where a water taxi and boats can dock. So Sundays we do a roast suckling pig and have a DJ, a party with music. The idea is to try and introduce a scene like a St. Tropez in France, like the famous clubs there—like an Ibiza in Barbados, with a party and food on the beach. Nobody but us has a private beach apart from the high-end hotels, and there you can’t have a roast party with locals and music, the way we can. It’s a great scene
Travel Tales: Where Luxury Meets Local & Wanderlust Meets Culture-lust
I am: writer, globetrotter, professor, culture-hound. Born and raised in New York City, with one foot fixed in the Caribbean, I have written about travel, the arts and identity politics for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and many more; I produce on-air segments about global music and culture for National Public Radio (NPR). I am ceaselessly curious, fearless in my journeys, relentlessly ravenous to see and learn more. My global routes marry luxury with local, which is the essence of this travel blog: Welcome to a place where wanderlust meets culture-lust, where otherworldly high-end meets rootsy down-home.