When you’re offered the opportunity to eat at one of the premier hotels on the island, ‘no thank you’ are not the words that spring to mind, especially when it’s Italian food that’s on offer. It stands to reason then that when I was asked to check out the newly re-opened Primavera at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Resort & Spa, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve never really been one for the ultra-contemporary look but I was instantly charmed with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the beautifully appointed hotel gardens, glass-fronted kitchen area affording a peek into the workings of a busy kitchen and minimalist modern décor.

Adding to the charm of the restaurant are its staff who are warm, welcoming and attentive and extremely knowledgeable about every item on the menu.

Perusing (because in a restaurant like Primavera you don’t just ‘look’) through the menu, each item seemed more enticing than the last but after much deliberation and changing of minds, to the amusement of the very patient staff, we finally settle on our first courses.

It wasn’t long before our starters, marinated salmon with soft cheese mousse and candied lemon for myself and cous cous salad, basil pesto and tomato gazpacho for my companion, arrived to whet our appetites but sadly that was the point where our delightful fairytale of a meal started to fall apart.

The first thing I noticed was the contrast in portion sizes. While my salmon was a very generous portion, the cous cous salad was more a have-a-taste-and-it’s-gone sized tease. Unfortunate really since it was the tastiest of all our dishes combined and pretty much as good as the meal got.

While plentiful, my salmon was remarkably bland, with a wilting salad and soft cheese mousse that was the consistency of cottage cheese. I can’t say it was bad, because it wasn’t, it was just simply mediocre. And not a candied lemon in sight.

Unimpressed with the first course, I looked forward to the next. Having ordered a firm favourite of mine, ossobuco Milanese with saffron rice and vegetable sauce, I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy it but, much like the first, this course disappointed. In all fairness the veal was fall-off-the-bone tender and all but melted in my mouth but unfortunately that’s where the positive ended. Taste-wise it was pretty unremarkable with every mouthful identical to the last and the saffron rice was so over-cooked that it was mush in my mouth.

My companion didn’t fare much better with her vegetable ravioli with gorgonzola and walnuts.

It was hard to find much filling in the ravioli and the gorgonzola sauce that swamped the dish was so over-powering, it was impossible to taste anything else.

Two courses down and one to go. As disappointed as we were with what we’d eaten so far, we remained optimistic for dessert and, after a quick review of the menu, we settled on the three chocolate creme brulee with ice cream and a tiramisu.

To be fair, while it appeared this was a dessert that had been made in advance and left to ‘sink’ in the fridge until called into service, both my white chocolate and milk chocolate crème brulee were delicious, if a little stodgy and topped with speckles of very burnt sugar. Sadly the dark chocolate one was just grainy and unpleasant. By contrast the ice cream, pistachio on the white chocolate, vanilla bean on the milk and raspberry on the dark, was very tasty indeed and a definite boost to the meal.

As for the Tiramisu, a staple of any Italian restaurant, what we actually got resembled a cup of cream with a very small amount of coffee-soaked sponge at the bottom.

I’m sorry to say this was a meal that had fallen far short of our expectations but as we got up to leave and headed for the door, a charismatic smile and a gifted rose each as we left was all that it took for us to forgive and forget (almost) and as we walked to the car, we did so with big smiles on our faces.

We’ll be going back to see if this was just bedding in but, to be honest, until we do so, we can’t really recommed this to anyone else.

The bill (for two)
Marinated salmon
Couscous BD3.500
Ossobuco BD15.000
Ravioli BD6.500
Tiramisu BD3.500
Creme brulee BD3.500
Total (inc tax and service) BD47.000