dining out in Trinidad & Tobago

dream ultra lounge & bar review

dream menu closeSo, I’m excited about this one;  Dream ultra lounge and bar has been open for less than one month now and I’m getting the opportunity to do a review!  I’m not in any way, shape or form affiliated with Dream Ultra lounge- again, simply went there, ordered, dined and left (remember Bacco Pizzeria Italiana review?)

My good friend called me up out of the blue and invited me out for lunch, with limited ideas but a plethora of excitement (we hadn’t seen each other for months!), we called up some people and asked them for ideas.  It was my husband who suggested Dream- we’d heard of it but hadn’t gotten the opportunity to dine there since it’s opening- my friend and I were game.

So this is the low down- the location is good, it’s pretty central- I mean everything is central in South- the parking is sufficient and the opening hours acceptable.  The one problem I had right off the bat was the entrance.  There isn’t proper signage and the heavy industrial gates make you question whether you’ve found the right place. There were no directions saying this way or that so it’s just a little bit confusing.

dream lounge entrance

dream wall dream lounge

Once inside you’re greeted by a hostess who shows you to your seats.  The decor is modern and sleek with a very sexy color palette- warm burnt oranges and vibrant cherry reds intertwined with subtle taupes and creams, the smooth jazzy tunes blaring in the background only add to the sultry atmosphere- I mean, it is a lounge!  You immediately notice the ‘lofty’ feel- an open mezzanine with tables and chairs overlooking the open floor space, cable wired stair cases and highly polished tiled floors- you can easily envision a ‘pumping’ Friday/Saturday night after work lime or fete.

The staff are very friendly and somewhat informal- giving patrons a sort of ease of dining if you will.  It took me by surprise since I could very naturally see a more formal type exchange between waiter/waitress and diner in an establishment outfitted to the nines like this one.  Either way, what counts for me is an attentive, clean, well-mannered waiter/waitress- which I had.

Now for the most important thing of all- the food.

menuThe menu is simple offering a few choice items- which in my opinion makes sense for a lounge.  There isn’t much frill or fru-fru  to the menu items- unpretentious and to the point.  It’s almost as though the head chef, when creating his menu was saying “you want Thai red curry?  Well, here it is.  You can get it with shrimp, chicken, fish etc etc.  That’s it. You’re done. Choose and move on.”  I like that.  There aren’t pages upon pages of menu items (in fact, it’s a flat menu card- one for drinks and one for food) and noticeably missing were dessert items.

mojitos at Dream lounge

We weren’t offered or given a ‘soft drink’ menu, which I found a slight bit strange.  Are we meant to have hard liquor only? Well, we did!
We both chose Mojitos- not the hardest hard, but who’s checking?

mojitos

When it came to our choices for food we decided to share everything- there was the Thai coconut mint soup, Emperor wings with sweet/spicy sauce (baked not fried), Chicken alfredo and Thai red curry shrimp.  Everything was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! The tastes were subtle, never intrusive, the spice was perfectly adjusted to suite the discerning Trini palette and the quantity? Nobody could even try to accuse Dream of small portion sizes- I felt like a child at a swinging party- party bag in tow when leaving.  I left with more food in my stomach and doggy bag than I had had when I entered, how could that ever be a bad thing?

Thai coconut mint soup baked wings Thai stir-fry Thai red curry shrimp chicken alfredo Dream lounge chicken alfredo @ dream lounge

As good as the meal was overall, these are the minor adjustments I would make or at least take into consideration:

  • The main Thai meals(and I’m guessing the ‘Western Style side of the menu is the same) don’t come with built in sides so you find yourself ordering a dish and having to ‘add- on’ (aptly named ‘add-ons’ on the menu) rice or vegetables or whatnot.  I find this inconvenient as a diner.  I would prefer to have a complete meal as a main since the brain behind the planning (the chef) will know what goes best with what.
  • Although the items in the stir-fry vegetables were varied and delicious, cooked to perfection, some of them were very salty as though salt was added at the end and not fully incorportated.
  • The presentation could be improved upon.  The soup was brought out with the spoon already submerged- I don’t fancy this- unless it’s some small ‘hole in the wall’ eatery. I’d prefer to have my spoon on the table and as the food is brought to me I’d use it.
  • A ‘soft drink‘ non alcoholic menu should be given to diners.
  • The music could be a bit lower and the lighting a bit brighter.  I’m no authority on ‘good restaurant practices’ but I think it’s safe to say that when one dines, one must be able to visualize one’s food in totality.

In all fairness to Dream Ultra Lounge and Bar however, they are newly opened so these little details might well be fixed in due course and my lists are my own and based on my dining preferences so that’s something to bare in mind.

However this is my verdict…

I would definitely recommend Dream Ultra Lounge and Bar!

Here is the breakdown:

Pros

  • Very clean and furnished to a high standard
  • Very reasonable prices especially for the large portion sizes- Dream, don’t get bright and change this!
  • Very romantic (although I would quicker say, sexy) atmosphere- turn on the charm gentlemen
  • Very tasty, well cooked meals- the chef certainly knows what he/she is doing
  • Affable staff
  • Menu is simple without too many distractions
  • The food was brought to the table very quickly
  • Bathrooms are highly sanitized

Cons

  • Card machine was giving trouble- slight inconvenience but no big deal, I think they’re working on it- the manager was extremely apologetic and I see this as a minor con, for now.
  • Could be a bit brighter during dining hours
  • Music could be a bit lower during dining hours
  • Non-alcoholic menus should be given as well
  • Main dishes should be served with at least one side
  • Entrance should be clearly marked and signed

Overall I would give Dream Ultra Lounge and Bar a rating of  8.75/10

Dream Ultra Lounge & Bar: Gulf View, Trinidad
phone: 868-223- CHIC (2442)
dream facebook
Find Dream here on the web

bacco pizzeria italiana review

 

bacco pizzeria

Good day all!

Hope everyone is fine and had a good night’s rest.

Today I am doing my very first food review! I’m pretty excited about this because I’ve been wanting to do one for quite sometime.  So without further delay here is my review on a newly opened Italian pizzeria called Bacco.  You should know that I am in NO WAY affiliated with this restaurant and did NOT inform the owners/staff that I was conducting a review.  I simply went there, dined, took a few photos and left with a heap load of thoughts and ideas.

Bacco is located in Duncan Village in South Trinidad (for those of you who don’t know Trinidad very well, or South Trinidad very well, Duncan Village is located just before Palmiste if you’re going towards Penal/Debe from the flyover intersection by Cross Crossing).  I will try to put in a map if you comment on this post and indicate a need for one.

bacco1bacco2

The owners of Bacco relocated a couple of months ago to Trinidad, their fist pizzeria called ‘La Cantina’ was originally located in Crown Point, Tobago.  The restaurant is extremely no frills.  If you’re looking for a place with fancy tables and place settings, stuffed crusts with dipping sauce, deep pan pizzas, meat lovers, 1000s of toppings, side orders and jungle gyms for the children then Bacco is NOT your place!  If however, you are looking for pizza made with passion and skill, cooked in an open wood fired oven, simple fresh ingredients and a huge variety to choose from, some new to us here in Trinidad, then Bacco is where you need to be!

The selection is seemingly endless- with pizzas consisting of modest single cheeses and marina sauce to ones with anchovies and artichokes, whipping cream and ricotta, buffalo mozzarella and parma ham; you will be very confused the first time you get there.  The doughs are sublimely thin, with a crunchy bite and a floury base.  The pizzas arrive to your table piping hot and sizzling, fresh out of the oven.  The ambience is simple and bright allowing the patrons to view straight to the back where you can witness the whole process from start to finish.  The black boards located at the back showcase fresh cheeses and deli items as well as other Italian delights like eggplant parmigiana.

Bacco menus

Now for my opinion on perhaps the most important thing of all- how does it taste?

Divine!

The first time I tried the pizza I went for simple.  I took the 4 formaggi(cheese)- taleggio, parmesan, mozzarella and gorgonzola.  I wanted to ‘taste’ the pizza- without distraction.  The pizza came sizzling, cheese intimidatingly bubbling atop a visibly thin crust.  I dug in.  The taste was (and I have to say it again) divine!  The sharpness of the gorgonzola was perfectly balanced by the mellowness of the mozzarella, the ‘stretchiness’ of the cheese was fantastic- just what you’d expect from good pizza.  I loved the simplicity of the presentation, no fuss, no frills just good, honest food.

capricciosaLast night we returned for a second round.  This time I ordered a ‘salccia’ pizza- tomato, mozzarella and fresh garlic sausage.  My husband chose the ‘capricciosa’- tomato, mozzarella, Italian ham, olives, artichokes and anchovies. Both were delicious!  I must admit the second night could not surpass the first night for me- I don’t know if it came down to just a preference of taste- the 4 formaggi vs the salccia or if the consistency just wasn’t there.  The crusts seemed slightly thicker this time as opposed to the first (I prefer thin crusts) and the pizzas, though hot, weren’t blistering hot this time. Now, I like hot food HOT. I actually enjoy burning the roof of my mouth- I know it’s weird- but it just signifies a true heat to me.  This time and maybe it also had something to do with the different type of cheeses (?) the pizzas weren’t sizzling like the last time.  The taste was great again but to me, not divine.  I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, because I wasn’t, but it was just, different.  The one thing that is a bit of a disappointment however, was that the mushrooms used aren’t fresh but clearly canned mushrooms.  I would have expected fresh portabella(which we grow locally as well) or fresh button or crimini mushrooms.  I think this could be improved upon- and I’m not the first customer to notice this and wish it were different.

salccia

I like consistency.  I think the mark of a good food establishment- whether it’s your little mom and pop place, a doubles stand, a gyro van or a big fancy fine dining restaurant- is consistency.  In all fairness, I think I would need to try Bacco one more time as a ‘tie breaker’ to see if it’s divine or great.  I would have absolutely no issue with trying it again and would have no reservations about spending another TT$200-TT$500 (that’s about US$35-US$83) on the food- because it was satisfying and does actually make me want more!

The staff is also very friendly and accommodating- especially the owner- a very friendly, warm gentleman willing to explain the menu and make suggestions.  They also make fresh-straight off the fruit- fruit juices with a very very small amount of sugar added, sometimes none if the fruits are very sweet.  We tried pineapple, strawberry/banana and pawpaw.  They were all delicious and reminiscent of the fresh smoothies I make for myself and my family.  We also tried the pies-strawberry and pineapple. The crust was good- could have been a bit flakier in my opinion and the filling was fine- though I thought a tad bit too sweet.

fresh juices

Summary

Bacco is a great place to have a meal if you’re looking for a simple, filling, tasty meal and expecting something a bit different than what you might be accustomed to (Pizza Hut, Papa John’s). It’s also somewhere to get fresh cheeses and other deli items- served with authentic rustic Italian breads- the caprese salad is particularly enjoyable.

I would definitely recommend Bacco!

Noteworthy points

  • The pizzas get cold exceptionally soon after they are taken out of the ovens- so DINE IN!!! You won’t regret it and you’d get a much better appreciation for the high quality and superb taste.
  • There isn’t a linx/credit card machine at the restaurant at the moment- so walk with CASH
  • Closed on Wednesdays- very European!
  • The hours are lunch (12pm-3pm) and dinner from 6pm

Pros

Good location
Good parking- parking extends to the lower level
Great tasting food
Large variety to suit many needs
Delicious deli items, cheeses and breads
Friendly staff
Decent prices

Cons

Closed on Wednesdays
Lack of card machines-maybe they’re just waiting for the machines to be installed?
Lack of fresh mushrooms (don’t know what else might not be fresh)
Can be considered a bit pricey

My overall rating for Bacco Pizzeria Italiana is  9.5/10

 
Bacco pizzeria italiana: 183 S.S. Erin Road, Duncan Village, Trinidad
phone: (868) 653-7261
Bacco facebook