Food and Drink

   

Saint Lucia

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It’s really difficult to stand out in Melbourne these days. Everyone has their own version of single origin/cold drip/international coffee, avocado on toast and food that creates queues down the block. So how do you differentiate?

Pick a market that nobody has conquered and make it really freaking good. Enter Saint Lucia, a Caribbean restaurant that has a touch of Mexican influence and a relaxing vibe that manages to tuck in well — whilst also standing out — on the top end of Chapel Street with the big players like Tokyo Tina and Hawker Hall.

Charlie, our host, is a big part of the lure of Lucia. He’s friendly, informative and has a beautiful energy that makes us feel so welcomed. The space has been created in memory of Charlie and his partner Steph’s travels around the Caribbean and American Gulf Coast and they’ve created a warm, sexy vibe that wraps itself around you the second you walk in — especially inviting  in the last days of a mean Melbourne winter.

The restaurant is small, the walls jumbled with a collection of trinkets collected by the couple during their travel experiences. The lighting is low and the music hums quietly, making for a relaxed vibe that could also trick you into wanting to throw back and spend your school night hollering with laughter, slumped over the bar with a rum cocktail.

We follow Charlie’s instructions and pick something off each section in the menu (separated into starters, tacos, barbecue and sides). We’re first presented with the most tantalising looking food you could possibly imagine — a macaroni & cheese donut. Whilst it sounds kind of ridiculous, they’ve really nailed the portion size and balance of cheese to crunch, so it tastes decadent, but not sickly.

Bit by bit, our spread continues — tender Bajan pork ribs literally drip off the bone (similar to the drool from our chins) and house BBQ wings have a sweetness that compliments their spice.  Whilst we do plan on rolling out of here, we’re mindful of enjoying our feast instead of getting too glutinous and choose to split two tacos: the smoked beef brisket dances with red cabbage, creole remoulade and pickled vegetables, whilst the buttermilk chicken, sandwiched with slaw, corn and scotch bonnet mayo is positively sinful.

If we thought it couldn’t get any better, we round it all off with a serving of roasted market vegetables topped with trini green sauce (a dish that has a distinct shoulder-shaking zest) and the most unbelievable corn bread I’ve ever had the pleasure of popping down my gob. Slathered with chilli butter, my dinner guest tells Charlie it’s ‘even better than my Nonna’s.’

He gets it.

If you’re a rum or tequila fan, you’re in great luck here. It’s a highlight on the menu, featured in many of the cocktails and cocktail pitchers. Try your hand at an Orange Street  — spiced rum, grand marnier, charred orange, brown sugar, cloves — or go the whole hog and order a pitcher of The Super Yacht, with spiced rum, aperol, lime, orange, cranberry, apple, mint and soda.

If you couldn’t already find a reason to visit, the $20 ribs & rum Tuesday special is insanely worth it. You’ll definitely need a booking.

Saint Lucia
78 Chapel Street, Windsor
Open Tuesday to Friday, 5pm to late, Saturday and Sunday, 4pm to late
saintluciawindsor.com.au


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