Dominica’s Desiderata: Delightful Dining in the Capital City of Roseau

Le Cafe Desiderata is centrally located at 8 Old Street (entrance on King George V St.) in Roseau, Dominica. It's found very close to the historic Old Market in the French Quarter of town.

Le Cafe Desiderata (448-6525) is centrally located at 5 Old Street (entrance on King George V St.) in Roseau, Dominica. It’s found very close to the historic Old Market Square.

During the unrelenting oppressive heat wave in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean in May 2015, I have been fortunate to

The colours and decor in Desiderata invite patrons to sit down, relax and escape the noise and haste of the city while enjoying a delicious meal.

The ambiance in  Le Cafe Desiderata invites patrons to sit down in comfort, relax for a while and escape the noise and haste of the city while enjoying a delicious meal.

escape  some days to the cooler climate of the mountains. But that is not possible everyday, as it is frequently necessary to do business or run errands in Roseau, the main commercial center on the Nature Island. Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to ‘sweat it’  in the sweltering heat for hours in the city without a cool break, thanks to the offerings at  Le Café Desiderata  –  a restorative oasis –  in more than one way!

That’s what I have been doing at least once a week to cope with the extremely hot weather when running around Roseau.  Sometimes, I may start  with breakfast at Desiderata before I hit the streets, and other times, I’ve finished all tasks and go there for a tasty lunch.

The ingredients in the substantial omelettes change every day. Have you tried one with brie? How about artichoke?

The ingredients in the substantial omelettes change every day. Have you tried one with brie? How about artichoke?

If I arrive around 8:30 a.m., I am often the first client, which is perfectly fine with me.  While I wait a short while for a delicious omelette with brie, or a mouth-watering smoked marlin and cream cheese bagel or a perfectly-made- to-my-liking creamy cappuccino, I  get a little writing  or reading done on my laptop or tablet, thanks to wireless in this serene setting. And the comfortable climate-controlled temperature seems to be conducive to creativity! I am usually amazed at the number of words I can churn out before I eat, or when sipping on my coffee or herbal tea afterwards.

The Breakfast menu offers selections for a light meal, or one that will last all day!

The Breakfast menu offers selections for a light meal, or one that will last all day!

Whenever I look at the specials on the board, I am always amazed by the diverse dishes that are offered, and even more surprised to see that they change every day!

I enjoyed this delicately seaoned mahi-mahi with mixed mashed potatoes and tender-crisp vegetables.

I enjoyed this delicately seasoned ginger-sesame mahi-mahi with mixed mashed potatoes and tender-crisp vegetables for lunch.

My friend Nacny enjoyed this delightful goat cheese/beet salad.

My friend Nancy really liked this delightful feta (goat cheese)/beet salad.

Look at all those choices for lunch, at great prices too.

Look at all those choices for lunch, at great prices too.

Lunches are definitely a gastronomic experience, and as a person who does not each much meat, I am always thrilled by the variety of vegetarian and fish offerings.  But I also appreciate that if I want a soup, salad or sandwich/wrap, I can order it off of the regular menu.  As the staff well knows, I love the fish wrap, and the generous salads are filled with goodness! I am not the only one to say that Chef Nickie assembles the best salad in Dominica – the ingredients are varied and the end results are exceptional!

Chef Nickie Esprit, Dominica's Island Chef 2014 is an exceptional culinary talent, and is recognized as such.

Chef Nickie Esprit, Dominica’s Island Chef 2014 and 2015 has an exceptional culinary talent, and is recognized as such.

Chef Nickie Esprit, the mastermind behind these creations, is a young lady with a real talent in the kitchen.  She’s the reigning (2014) Island Chef in Dominica, but I knew she was special long before she was awarded that prestigious title. I have consistently enjoyed her savory concoctions for several years, in fact, from her early days in the food service industry.  It was always evident to me that she had a real knack for making an ordinary plate into something extraordinary.  Call it a gift, but in terms of her cooking, she is a natural!  She is the perfect fit at Le Café Desiderata.DSCF6052

I also enjoy conversation with Dominique, the lovely and knowledgeable wait-staffer.  If I don’t know what I want, she is always ready to make a suggestion.  It amazes me that I am never disappointed with her idea. Then she follows up to ensure that I am

Dominique is a lovely wait-staffer who 'raises the bar' in terms of impeccable service!

Dominique is a lovely wait-staffer who ‘raises the bar’ in terms of impeccable service! She is seen here in the tapas bar section of Desiderata.

satisfied with what she has recommended.

Proprietor Portia Bird-Astaphan has definitely got a

Gwendominica often wears outfits that seem to blend into the serene surroundings at Desiderata. At least, that's what Proprietor Portia says!

Gwendominica often wears outfits that seem to blend into the serene surroundings at Desiderata. At least, that’s what Proprietor Portia says!

good thing going at Le Café Desiderata.  Her vision of creating a true oasis in Roseau, with complete consideration for her clients’ comfort,along with the presentation of a varied, tasteful menu at reasonable prices make Le Café Desiderata a ‘must-go’ when spending time in the city.  And if you’re in a rush and need to get out-of-town, they do take-out orders too!

Would you believe I have only just scratched the surface?  Check Le Café Desiderata’s Facebook page here to learn more – you might also enjoy the tapas bar on Friday nights and Saturday evening dining!  They are closed on Sundays for a well-deserved rest – but you can enjoy their offerings on the six other days of the week.

I can’t wait for my next taste of something extremely special at Le Café Desiderata!

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The Marvellous Tastes, Sights and Sounds of Creole Day 2014 around Roseau Dominica

This prety Chapeau Paille (straw hat) is symbolic of Dominic`s Creole culture.  It was displayed on the stone wall of Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau.

This pretty Chapeau Paille (straw hat), adorned with madras fabric is symbolic of Dominica`s Creole culture. It was displayed on the thick interior stone wall of Cartwheel Cafe (448-5353) on the Bayfront in Roseau.

Every year, I look forward to the last Friday in October in Dominica.  That’s when Creole Day is celebrated, in recognition and honour of the

The Kai K Boutique adjoining the Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau displayed a simple and elegant dress with a Creole accent!

The Kai K Boutique (440-6922) adjoining the Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau displayed a casually elegant dress  with a Creole accent  by the door for all to admire!

Nature Island`s traditional culture, comprising food, language and fashion.  This year, I decided to focus on a Creole Breakfast and  a Creole Lunch – both near the seaside – but at two different locations.

I was a little early for Creole fashions on the street that morning and I did not stay in Roseau for too long because I would be savoring Creole Lunch closer to home.  But I did enjoy the glimpses of colour and design that I observed on others  around me who proudly dressed in Creole wear.

When I arrived at Cartwheel Cafe at around 8:30 a.m., I was one of the first diners on that special occasion.  It’s a familiar place for me: I know that staff and they know my meal preferences without even asking.  I always enjoy its congenial, comfortable and casual atmosphere and the historic architectural setting close to the Cruise Ship Pier in downtown Roseau.

Flavian is one of the friendly servers at Cartwheel Cafe who always welcomes me with a warm smile.

Flavian is one of the friendly servers at Cartwheel Cafe who always welcomes me with a warm smile.

As usual, I devoured the generous serving of codfish, seasoned with herbs, which was accompanied by breadfruit (a starchy ‘provision’ that grows on a tree of that same name), a boiled egg and garden fresh salad fixings.  A cup of coffee complemented the large meal perfectly.

My Creole Breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe included boiled egg, breadfruit, salad fixings (including avocado) and seasoned codfish.  Coffee complements the meal perfectly.

My Creole Breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe included boiled egg, breadfruit, salad fixings (including avocado) and seasoned cod (salt fish). Coffee complements the meal perfectly.

This traditional meal is still a favourite in the Caribbean.  Of course, the salt fish (cod) is imported from countries where it is plentiful and  it has to be ‘unsalted’ by soaking it  overnight in cold water.  Then it is shredded and stewed or fried with various seasonings, including onion and peppers.  For me, it was an acquired taste and now I must have it at least twice a week! This filling food combination gives one energy and following this hearty dish, there is no need for a mid-morning snack.  (But if tempted, or in need of  a take-away to enjoy later in the day, I highly recommend Cartwheel mini-quiches (meat and/or vegetarian) and a slice of their incredibly moist  homemade chocolate cake).  And the price is right too!  You don’t have to wait for Creole Day to eat at Cartwheel Cafe.  At this dining

Simone at Kai K Boutique has a flare for fashion.  She is adorned in a vibrant and sexy outfit for Creole Day.  Find her at this shop and she''ll help find something new that is just right for you in quality natural fabrics for a fabulous price!

Simone at Kai K Boutique has a flare for fashion. She is adorned in a vibrant and sexy outfit for Creole Day.Go say hello and she’ll help you  find something new in quality natural fabrics at a fabulous price!

On Creole Day, it's always possible to buy a hand-made creation at varoius shops or from vendors right on the street.

On Creole Day, it’s always possible to buy at the last-minute a hand-made creation  from vendors  on the sidewalk.

establishment, you will always get a taste of Dominican-style fare.  Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

The only other item on my Creole agenda this morning was a ‘sitting’ for my annual Christmas photograph to insert in greeting cards for my Canadian relatives.  As with the last couple of years, I walked over to Lasting Images Photo Studio on King’s Lane.  It was still early in the day, and I had not worked up too much of a sweat yet.  The pleasant photographer arranged me in a few ‘standing’ poses, took the shots and then showed me each one.  I was pleased with his results, which serve as  souvenirs of  my dress-up for Creole Day every year.  While my outfit was not new, I felt like a different person in my mix of madras coördinates that I had gathered over the years.  Someday, I will look back at my participation in this important local event and smile even more broadly than I  did in the photos!

Gwendominica dressed the part for Creole Day, October31, 2014.  She is wearing a plaid (madras) jip (jupe = skirt),  a white blouse (bluse), a slightly different patterned head piece and wrist-wrap, matching necklace, earrings

Gwendominica dressed the part for Creole Day, October 31, 2014. She is wearing a plaid (madras) jip (jupe = skirt), a white lace-fringed blouse (bluse),  a different patterned head piece and wrist-wrap, coordinating necklace, bracelet and earrings. The shoulder bag is made from madras material too! Photo credit: Lasting Images, Roseau Dominica

After this pleasant start to my Creole Friday, I drove back home to write for a while before my next gastronomic outing: a long-awaited dining experience at the Westport Tavern (276-9513), a quaint seaside restaurant and bar in Citronnier, a short drive south of Roseau.

Westport Tavern is conveniently located on the seaside by the main road just south of Roseau

Westport Tavern is conveniently located on the seaside by the main road just south of Roseau

Just after midday, I left the car at home, and was quickly picked up  by one of the buses that frequents my neighbourhood.  The main road from the south of the island to Roseau was getting very busy, as  school had finished for the day and everyone made their way to their chosen Creole lunch destination.  Fortunately, I didn’t have far to go, although my friend Nancy from Springfield did got stuck in the city traffic for a while.  Eventually, she made it through, and by that time, we were both more than ready for our festive meal!

Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern in Citronnier, just south of Roseau was a delicious repast for celebrating a  very special annual event.

Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern in Citronnier, just south of Roseau was ideal for celebrating a very special annual event. There were a number of traditional dishes from which to choose on the menu.

I was craving a Crab Back, and Nancy had kindly pre-ordered this popular Creole treat when she made the reservation. This

There's my crab back. Yum!  This delicacy was prepared by Chef Sandra from Springfield. She has a knack for doing up this seasonal dish.

There’s my stuffed crab back. Yum! This delicacy was prepared by Chef Sandra from Springfield for distribution at various venues. She has a  unique knack for doing up this particular seasonal dish.

delicacy is only available during the Independence season, as hunting of this crustacean is permitted for a few months each year.  I also ordered all the side dishes on the menu. How could I resist!?! Nancy enjoyed Lionfish Couboullion ( a type of traditional stew with herbs and other seasonings).  This particular fish has a bad reputation as it eats other types of marine life. There are concerted efforts to harvest it in an attempt to control it in Dominica, as it is very tasty to eat.  Westport Tavern often serves other dishes with Lionfish to great acclaim.  You can read more about this predator here.

The expansive bar at Westport Tavern offers all kind of tempting beverages.  I had unsweetened ginger beer (no alcohol).  Its strong taste perfectly complemented my Creole meal.

The expansive bar at Westport Tavern offers all kinds of tempting beverages. I had unsweetened ginger beer (no alcohol). Its strong taste perfectly complemented my Creole meal.

Chef Jessica knows how to dish up very delicious dinners.  You should go to Westport Tavern of an evening, and find out for yourself!

Chef Jessica knows how to dish up very delicious dinners. You should go to Westport Tavern of an evening, and find out for yourself!

The lovely covered dining room offers lovely seaside views and refreshing breezes. Boaters can anchor nearby too!

The covered dining room offers lovely seaside views and refreshing breezes. Boaters can anchor nearby too! There’s a wharf that leads directly to the dining room.

DJ David Sorhaindo played wonderful tunes in keeping with the Creole season, which complemented the cheery atmosphere at Westport Tavern.

DJ David Sorhaindo played plentiful  local and regional tunes in keeping with the Creole season, which complemented the cheery atmosphere at Westport Tavern.

As we gazed out on the serene Caribbean Sea, we savored every morsel of our delectable lunches. Fortunately, we were there a bit before  other eager diners filled the spacious restaurant.  I lingered over every bite of my Creole lunch, and especially enjoyed the Plantain Madras Pie.

My Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern: from upper right: mixed provisins;  stuffed crab back; plantain pie; salad; pumpkin rice. Yum!

My Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern: from upper right (clockwise): mixed provisions; stuffed crab back; plantain pie; avocado/farine ball; salad; pumpkin rice; red beans in coconut milk. What a feast!

Award-winning Chef Jessica knows how to put a wonderful meal together – and I was fortunate to be one of the beneficiaries!

It might not surprise you that I had no interest in supper that evening.  With two wonderful Creole meals ‘under my belt’, I would say that my 2014 celebration of this aspect of Dominica’s culture was complete!