Fern Winter Tasting Menu

winter-tasting-menu-2016

During our recent four-day stay at the St Regis Bahia Beach Resort, we ate a fantastic meal at Fern restaurant:  a six course Tasting Menu with wine pairings for a Friday night dinner.

What is a Tasting Meal?

A Tasting Menu is a multiple course meal (in this case six courses) chosen by the Chef to showcase the wide range and creativity of the Chef.  A Tasting Menu may include a variety of courses including, but not limited to, salad, soup, fish, pasta, red meat, and desert.  Portion sizes are small and typically start with the lightest dish to the heaviest, with desert to finish.  Many restaurants are able to accommodate food allergies and vegetarian options, always confirm when ordering (or call ahead to ask).

Fern’s seasonal tasting menu showcased seafood with salmon, grouper, and octopus courses.  The menu will vary between seasons, and more often based on supply of fresh ingredients.  I would expect to find different courses and preparation for the tasting menu on another night.

Wine pairing is usually available for an additional fee.  Specific wines are served with each course.  Occasionally, a beer or liquor may be paired with a certain dish to bring out a unique flavor combination.  The serving sizes, like the food dishes, are smaller than normal.  Each wine (or beverage) is selected for you, no need to look at the wine menu after selecting the wine pairing option!

What is an Amuse Bouche?

Literally it means, “mouth amuser.”  The amuse bouche is a small, often single bite size, nibble of food served before the meal.  The amuse bouche is a way for the chef to tease and show off his skills with this free off-the-menu morsel.

Six Courses for Dinner

Dinner started with a slow warmup.  The Salmon tartar was pedestrian but well executed, presented on a bed of avocado and topped with radish slices.

I love a little theatrical flair in a tasting menu. Fern did not disappoint!  The mushroom soup was presented first with a bowl of grated Parmesan cheese and sliced chilies.  Then, the mushroom broth was poured at the table for the fragrant release of the mushrooms and chilies.  The menu describes this as a mushroom tea to better name this lightweight broth, as “soup” understates the delicate dish.

Octopus was perfectly executed, tender, firm, not chewy.  Eating an intelligent, alien, unsustainable octopus makes me sad, and the mixture of emotions makes the dish that much more delicious.  I will not specifically order octopus, but it is a delicate treat that I have a hard time turning down.

fern-grouper-relish
Grouper with bean relish from Fern Winter Tasting Menu

Grouper with bean “relish” was my favorite.  The beans were cooked firm, al dente but not undercooked.  The flavor combinations were hard to describe, each bite unlocked another delight.  Again, the grouper was perfectly executed and lightly crisped.  The Spanish red wine enhanced the flavor of the beans, as the main focus of the dish.

The only choice throughout the entire meal was how we like our tenderloin prepared (medium rare for me).  It was delicious, perfectly prepared, but unremarkable.  It seemed like a mandatory manly course among other more subtle offerings.  Served over savory, smoky tomato compote and paired with thick Cabernet Savignon.

Chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream topped with caramelized crust
Chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream topped with caramelized crust

The chocolate cake oozed with warm fudgy goodness.  Both the cake and ice cream were not overly sweet and paired with a rich port wine.  After five courses, I was not sure if I would be able to finish desert, yet somehow I looked down at a very empty plate only a few moments after taking this photo.

There is a slight, planned pause between courses to complete the accompanying wine and allow diners a moment before the next course is served.  Our six course meal took 2.5 hours, so I recommend an early dinner reservation and allow plenty of time to enjoy.

More Information on Fern

Fern is located upstairs in the unfortunately-named Plantation House at the St Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico.  Fern is open for breakfast and dinner.  Dinner reservations are highly recommended, especially on Saturday night.  Fern small plate appetizers are available in the St Regis bar downstairs for a light dinner, or to sample the Fern flavors without a dinner reservation.

Fern patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean
Fern patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

The Fern patio overlooks the Plantation House lawn and beach leading to the Atlantic Ocean.   The views alone are worth planning a meal at Fern, and the Tasting Menu is must-do splurge for any Foodie staying at the St Regis, or just visiting the Island!

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29 thoughts on “Fern Winter Tasting Menu”

  1. My mouth is watering after reading this. I love set courses with wine pairings. The grouper looks simply amazing. This is just another amazing part of your anniversary. The video was a great addition to the post. I hope to eat here some day.

    1. Glad you liked the review, you will LOVE Fern and Puerto Rico! Check out my other posts on Puerto Rico, and more are added every month since we live here.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on Fern – I haven’t experienced a tasting menu before but it sounds like an amazing night out. Between the soup, octopus and grouper – can’t get a better menu than that! And the chocolate cake, OMG yum – it’s not done correctly unless it oozes 😀

  3. Love paired degustation meals. This one looks awesome. Love the theatre of anything made or poured at the table too. How cool that you start off with some parmesan and then a mushroom broth comes in over the top. Super cool. Loved the addition of the video.

  4. I’ve always been nervous about tasting menus since I am vegetarian, so I am glad to hear you say that most places will accommodate you. Never hurts to ask, right? What a fun way to taste new things. And that cake looks so good!

  5. I’ve never had a tasting menu but I can see the appeal. You get to taste the best of the best. I don’t eat meat but I would be quite happy with that oozing chocolate cake!

  6. I LOVE tasting menus – it is such a great way to taste a variety of dishes from talented chefs. I am the same – after the 5-6th dish, I always wonder how I would be able to finish the rest of the menu. But there is always room for dessert!

  7. I’m headed to Puerto Rico this summer for a work related training. I’ll be there two weeks and just starting to research my food options. So happy I stumbled across this post. It was very informative, I didn’t know about the Amuse Bouche! I am excited to try some of the local seafood there. I love octopus, maybe my favorite food.

  8. The food looks lovely. Tasting menus are great for trying all sorts on the menu. I especially love it as you do not have to think about the wine pairing 🙂
    It all looks really nicely done by the video. Especially pouring in the mushroom broth.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  9. Great video, all the food looks incredible! That salmon tartare looked heavenly! I have always wanted to do a wine paring with a set course meal! It looks like this is the perfect place to do it!

  10. Brilliant! I love tasting menus. I’m not sure about you, but what everyone else orders always looks more appetising – and with tasting menus you don’t get any FOMO and get to sample a bit of everything! That chocolate cake sounds divine…

    1. The chocolate cake was delicious. I want more.
      Yes, the best part of tasting menus is to sample the best of the chef’s creations.

  11. Loved that video – the mushroom soup was basically food porn! I do love tasting menus, anything that lets me try a breadth of the menu is great to me!

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