Tag Archives: restaurant review

Rarotonga, Cook Islands — Dining at Charlie’s and Trader Jacks

Me at Charlie’s

Today is a twofer — two Rarotonga, Cook Islands restaurant reviews. The first one on today’s menu (see what I did there?) is Charlie’s in the Takitumu District on the south side of Rarotonga. Charlie’s was easy to get to from our rental in the adjoining Muri District, about a fifteen-minute walk. Ursula read about this place before we arrived, and she told me that Charlie’s is famous for their fish sandwich. So, after seeing one walked by, we opted to split a sandwich and order of fries. A good thing, because it was massive! But first you have to go to the ordering window to place place your order:

Charlie’s ordering station

What you get when retrieve your order is an enormous amount of wonderfully fresh fries and a huge sandwich with a delightfully crisp fillet of fresh island fish. We included with our shared dinner a couple of Bundaberg ginger beers, which we fell in love with during a prior trip to Australia:

Charlie’s HUGE fish sandwich, fries, and our favorite ginger beer

Now, normally, a restaurant review wouldn’t be worth much with only one item in the review. But you’re in luck. We shared a table with a charming Australian couple who allowed me to photograph their dinners and who shared with me their impressions. First up is the New Zealand grilled rump steak with island vegetables, which smelled wonderful and was proclaimed by the diner a winner:

Charlie’s — New Zealand beef

Her husband opted for the fish platter, which didn’t look to me very appetizing. Apparently, our dining companion agreed. Good, but not great was his take.

Charlie’s Fish of the Day

One great thing everyone agreed upon were the sunset views from Charlie’s, which I showed you during last week’s Fun Photo Friday. An even more spectacular sunset from Charlie’s awaits you this Friday.

Sunset at Charlie’s Café

Now it’s off to Trader Jacks in Avarua, the largest town located on the island. It’s on the north shore of Rarotonga.

Trader Jacks in Avarua

This place was good enough to warrant two visits, so you’ll see four different meals reviewed here.

Ursula ready to chow down at Trader Jacks

Trader Jacks has two dining areas. One is inside, but what’s the fun in that?

Trader Jacks indoor dining

The other offers great views of surf, sand, and even the rusting remains from an old shipwreck dating back to 1916.

Trader Jacks covered outdoor dining

Wreck of the S.S. Matai (1916)

But we’re here for the food, starting with my fish and chips. Neither fish nor chip was anything to write home about, but they were passable. The fries were obviously of the frozen variety, and a quick conversation with the waitress confirmed that. They were good, but not great. The fish fillet was moist and tender, but when you fry up a piece of fish this thick it becomes difficult to achieve a crispy coating. If you do achieve it, it doesn’t last long.

Trader Jacks fish ‘n’ chips

Ursula’s seafood chowder was a better choice. She loved it, and I concur with her assessment. It was creamy, and chock-full of seafood and root vegetables. Accompanying this tasty chowder was a generous serving of buttered garlic toast.

Trader Jacks seafood chowder with garlic toast

Unfortunately, Trader Jacks does not serve our favorite Bundaberg, so we opted for a ginger beer from Schweppes. Again, okay, but not great.

Ginger beer

Two days after this visit we again found ourselves taking the local bus around the island back to Avarua. We’d already tried Muri Night Market a couple of times, so we decided to head back to Trader Jacks. Having learned my lesson on fish and chips, I opted this trip for the pizza. I was not disappointed. This particular one was their Traders Supreme, which came with pepperoni, Italian sausage, smoked ham, onion, capsicum, tomato, an olives. I ordered the pizza extra crisp, and that’s exactly what I received.

Trader Jacks “Traders Supreme” pizza

Ursula ordered this time a dish that is native to Rarotonga. It’s called ika mata, and it’s kind of the Cook Islands equivalent to poke, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the shared Polynesian ancestry of the early Hawaiian and Cook Island settlers. Trader Jacks‘ version is called Te Ika Mata, and it includes fresh raw island tuna marinated in lime juice from Mauke. This is topped off with coconut cream and fresh vegetables. Steamed taro root is served as a side.

Te Ika Mata — local tuna, lime juice, coconut cream, vegetables, served with taro

Next week this blog leaves behind the marvelous Cook Islands for Sydney, Australia, which is precisely what we did this past February. From Sydney we’ll be jumping aboard a cruise ship for a complete circumnavigation of the Australian continent, with a follow-on cruise around New Zealand. Hope to see you there!

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Post Cruise — Lunch at Crabby’s Bar & Grill in Clearwater

Crabby’s Dockside

Time for a late lunch along Causeway Boulevard at Crabby’s Dockside. That 37 Causeway Blvd. address is actually a bit misleading. The restaurant is more easily approached from Coronado Drive.

One look at the menu sold us:

Crabby's Dockside lunch 10-21-2019 4-29-16 PM

Crabby’s menu

Alas, the air conditioned spaces had a wait, so we went up to the open air third floor deck:

Crabby’s open-air dining on the upper deck

Despite the warmth of the day, and the touch of humidity, we enjoyed both the meal and the views:

View from Crabby’s upper deck

Ursula opted for one of her favorites, the stuffed flounder:

Ursula about to dive in to her stuffed flounder

It was rather tasty, and came with a choice of two sides. For this Ursula chose the coleslaw and the mashed potatoes:

Ursula’s stuffed flounder — Yummy!

I went with the fried grouper and shrimp, and I paired those with slaw and fries:

Grouper and shrimp for me

Let’s take a last look at Crabby’s from the Coronado Drive approach:

Crabby’s Dockside as approached from Coronado Drive


Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker, Restaurant Review, vacation, Wine & Food

Fall Foliage Cruise — New Brunswick; St. Martins Sea Caves and Lunch

St. Martins Sea Caves at high tide

Another place we visited twice this day was the area of the St. Martins Sea Caves. As with previous places we visited twice, the purpose was for Diane Howarth of Go Fundy Tours to show us the same location at both low and high tide. The other purpose for our visit here was lunch, which we’ll get to shorty. But first, let’s take a look at the caves during that morning’s low tide:

Low Tide at St. Martins Sea Caves

As you can see, the Bay of Fundy waters along this stretch of beach have receded considerably. Here is a close up of the caves, which you to walk to during low tide:

Low Tide at St. Martins Sea Caves

So, how did this scene look just three hours later? Let’s take a look, first at the beach:

St. Martins Sea Caves at high tide

No way you’re going to stroll over to those caves now! Here’s a telephoto view of the caves:

St. Martins Sea Caves at high tide

On this beach are two restaurants. One is famous for their fish and chips, the other for the seafood chowder. Ursula got out voted by the group, so we headed over to the Seaside Restaurant & Takeout:

Seaside Restaurant for fish & chips

But, oddly enough, Seaside advertises outside that their seafood chowder is award winning, so Ursula was not too disappointed. She opted to give this chowder a try, but we both found it a bit lacking. It looks rich, and the pools of butter on top appeared inviting, but the chowder itself was a bit watery. Fortunately, the taste was good (not great), and seafood was abundant:

Seaside Restaurant’s seafood chowder

Most of the rest of our group had the fish & chips, which also came with cole slaw. The slaw was yummy, and the fish both tasty and crunchy, but the chips left a little to be desired. They came not quite fresh from the fryer and lacked the hearty crunch one craves with such fare:

Seaside Restaurant’s fish & chips

We’re about to finish up our fall foliage cruise, but we’re not done yet with Adventure of the Seas. Not only was this a fall foliage adventure, it was also a repositioning cruise that would soon take us south. Our last views of the fall foliage portion of the cruise will appear on this week’s Fun Photo Friday. Wednesday we’ll made a quick return to Quaco Head Light, then take in a scenic overlook of Saint John. Until then, here’s one last look at the St. Martins Sea Caves and the Bay of Fundy at high tide:

St. Martins Sea Caves on the Bay of Fundy at high tide

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