Food for Thought

In the Mood for Magnificence

An evening at Parallel23

By Kathy Borsuk
Photos By Tropical Imaging

Known as a luxury vacation destination, there are places on Providenciales that can transport you from the common to the sublime. Few do it as well as The Regent Palms. As soon as you step onto its manicured grounds, you enter a bygone era of quiet elegance. The Messel-designed stone buildings, arched windows, stately palms and refined service combine to create an aura of tranquility often lost in our hectic lives.

Parallel23, the resort’s fine dining restaurant, carries forward the tradition of magnificence. An evening on its romantic, candle-lit terrace, enjoying the best in creative gourmet fare, gentle breezes and the sweet serenades of local singers, will leave you in the mood for more.

Evening dining at Parallel23 on Providenciales

Evening dining at Parallel23 on Providenciales

Parallel23 is the country’s only AAA 4-Diamond rated restaurant, and as such must live up to AAA’s rigorous evaluation criteria for distinction, creativity, excellent service and a first-class ambiance. With this in mind, our expectations were high as we, a small group of Provo residents, visited the restaurant in late May.

Our first stop was the Green Flamingo Bar, a clubby spot with the intimate ambiance of a English salon. We sampled several cocktails, including the trendy-again Cosmopolitan and a well-made French Martini, nibbled on the nuts, chips and olives presented on a silver tray, and dispersed between the dark mahogany bar and the large, comfortable chairs grouped on the terrace. My friend had already marked a spot for the next evening cocktails gathering of her young mother’s group, much appreciating the large outdoor seating space around which all could gather to chat, attentive bar service and lovely cool breeze. We noted that bar fare was readily available, with a bistro-style menu that also included such casual offerings as “sliders” and pizza.

As day dimmed to evening, Parallel23’s romantic ambiance slowly revealed itself. The restaurant is placed at the back of a lovely courtyard, embraced by promenades, The Regent Palms’ grand entrance lobby and the Manor House. The soft lights from the shops, chandelier and manor were perfectly complemented by the backlit palms and landscaping and the flickering candles on each table. As we were ushered to our places, it felt like we were entering our own intimate, glowing bubble of hospitality.

Parallel23’s menu focuses on uniquely interpreted Pan-Tropical fare, with an emphasis on perfectly grilled beef and fish entrees and great side dishes. While we passed on the seared Foie Gras, we had to check out P23’s take on a local favorite. “Symphony of Conch,” is a trio of curried conch bisque, conch tempura, conch hush puppies and smoked conch ceviche — each served with an appropriate and unique sauce or glaze. Quite a step up from the traditional cracked conch, and all holding their own in the melody. The grilled beef satay literally melted in my mouth, and was nicely accented with cumin-spiced grilled pineapple and a tangy peanut sauce. We’ve also heard rave reviews for the Spiced Pumpkin Soup, its so-Caribbean combination of ginger, lime and coconut milk elevating this rather plebian squash to another level. The chef’s treat to the table tonight were tiny squares of toasted sweet bread topped with a luscious ham paté, and the bread basket was filled with herb-infused rolls, baked in the restaurant’s wood-fired brick oven and served with whipped butter and olive tapenade.

Although not a drinker, my friends counseled me that the wine list more than held its own, with a hand-picked sampling of boutique wines from around the world. With the server’s help, they chose an Oriel Setena red from Spain to pair with dinner. I was too busy admiring the beautiful plate decor, which was soon whisked away when dinner was served. Parallel23 boasts a state-of-the art display kitchen, where you can see your dry-aged prime cuts of beef and fresh seafood grilled to perfection. Many of our group chose one of the chef’s blackboard offerings: grilled fresh Caicos grouper. The tender, well-flavored fish was served atop a marvelous morel mushroom risotto with a rich wine-cream infusion. “Surf & Turf” inadequately describes the luscious, butter-tender prime tenderloin cut, accompanied by a black tiger prawn. It went well with one of the many “sides and accessories,” each marked by the stamp of gourmet design. (For instance, there was no mere “baked potato,” but a “sea salt baked Idaho Potato with a chive creme fraiche and smoked pancetta bacon bits,” while the creamed spinach included truffles and the mac and cheese a blend of three cheeses.

In keeping with the Pan-Tropical theme, another in our group sampled the red snapper, served in a sweet/spicy coconut-serrano broth with an intriguing black-bean roast banana mash, pronouncing it “quite a collection of flavors.” I think the health-conscious would swoon over the “Simply Spa” four-course meal, featuring low-carb/low-calorie dishes to delight every sense, and including a grilled veal tenderloin with sun-dried tomato, caper, raisin and olive oil broth served on a bed of vegetable spaghetti; no-sugar strawberry trifle the dessert.

Besides the striking plate presentations, a very special part of the experience was the entertainment. On the evening we visited, local musician Craig Archibold combined his accomplished keyboard skills and silky smooth voice in a melange of melodies that was the perfect accompaniment to our meal. We learned that Craig is a regular on Friday nights performing “Motown” and “island feel” music, while the husband/wife duo NaDa plays international and easy listening music on Wednesdays and Perry Delancey jazzes up Saturday nights.

While none of us had room for dessert, we eyed the interesting dessert menu and earmarked the fantasy that was warm chocolate moulleux with lime/ginger sorbet for a future visit. Again, the chef treated us to a plate of tiny, delectably flavored cheesecake bites to complete the sense-satisfying experience that was dinner at Parallel23. I suspect that on a weekend evening, several of our male companions would have preferred to retire to the softly lit bar for a vintage rum or brandy and fine cigar.

Rogerio Guerreiro, The Regent Palms’ Food & Beverage Manager, notes that the quieter summer and fall months are an ideal time for TCI residents to partake of the pleasures at the restaurant and bar. With a new chef due shortly, and the possible re-institution of movie nights on the beach and concerts in the courtyard, the community is sure to find Parallel23 and the Green Flamingo Bar a fresh new option to add to their social schedule. Planned for the last weekend in May was “An Evening at the Opera,” featuring music by The Three Tenors and Andrea Bocelli, along with a champagne and caviar bar and prix fix menu.

As well, the stately Messel Ballroom is a wonderful venue for weddings, fund-raisers, meetings and conferences — recently hosting such events as the Le Reve Ball and TCI Museum Night. Rogerio promises special rates to TCI residents and businesses for rental space, which can accommodate as many as 100 people for dinner.

Our carefully constructed bubble of inspiring food, attentive service, lively conversation and lovely ambiance eventually had to end. As we drifted home in a dreamy mood, thoughts turned to planning another visit to this paradise under the stars.

For more information or dinner reservations, call 649 946 8666 or visit www.RegentPalms.com.



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German photographer Georg Roske took this interesting image as part of a series of photos for the new South Bank development on Providenciales. And although he takes his pictures intuitionally and spontaneously, he realizes the “perfect moment” must be well calculated. For more of his work, visit www.georgroske.de

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