The blending of cultural influences that make up Bermuda’s unique identity also meld beautifully in the island’s cuisine, resulting in intriguingly delicious dishes.
As a British Overseas Territory, the United Kingdom’s influence on Bermuda is undeniable. Here, you can enjoy an authentic British meal at one of the island’s English or Irish pubs, where you’ll find classics on the menu like fish and chips, bangers and mash, steak and ale, shepherd’s pie or carved roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. Wash your dish of choice down with a local pint for the complete English pub experience. The British custom of afternoon tea paired with finger sandwiches, cookies, cakes and pastries is followed by many Bermudians; and there are plenty of venues where you can enjoy the ritual, from eateries with lush garden settings to upscale hotel lounges.
Of course, Bermuda’s proximity to the U.S. ensures you’ll find American fare in dining establishments across the island. Bistros and cafés serving sandwiches and casual restaurants offering up burgers, soups and salads are plentiful.
If you want a no-frills homestyle meal, a good place to start is at the neighbourhood diner, many of which have been open for decades and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner specials as well as homemade desserts — and all at a reasonable price. For a quick bite on the go, stop at one of the food trucks parked in the City of Hamilton or even at an attraction like the Bermuda Golf Academy & Driving Range in Southampton. They offer burgers, codfish cakes, steak-umms and locally made pies; or you can even try a Portuguese speciality.
As you might expect, Bermuda’s distinction as a geographically isolated island in the middle of the Atlantic means the seafood is plentiful, readily available and incredibly fresh. The island’s spiny lobster, which doesn’t have claws, can only be harvested September through March, so
if you’re on island during this time frame, be sure not to miss this succulent dish. Whether broiled and served with butter or made into a deliciously creamy lobster bisque, a meal of spiny lobster is a must when you’re in Bermuda.
Other seafood caught off Bermuda’s shores and their most popular preparations include pan-fried rockfish, baked snapper, pan-seared tuna and grilled wahoo. One of the most popular and uniquely Bermudian seafood preparations is the fish sandwich. Flash-fried and served on raisin bread, this dish is an institution, and several local establishments proclaim theirs is the best. Even more iconic than the fish sandwich is Bermuda fish chowder, the island’s national dish that’s been a mainstay of the local cuisine since the 17th-century British colonisers developed the hearty soup. Though the recipe varies by chef, the agreed-upon ingredients include fish stock, fish fillets and tomato puree. Generally, the fillets are rockfish, and other ingredients often include onions, celery and carrots, spiced with bay leaf, thyme, allspice and Worcestershire sauce. Two final undisputed ingredients are sherry pepper sauce, made with Bermuda-grown sherry peppers, and black rum. Like the fish sandwich, there are plenty of places on island to find fish chowder; and of course, each establishment touts theirs as the best.
Another dish that’s uniquely Bermudian is found at the breakfast table. The Bermudian breakfast of salted codfish with a side of boiled potatoes and eggs, bacon and onion cooked with stewed tomatoes and slices of fresh banana and avocado is a well-balanced meal that’s sure to fill you up. Salted codfish was a staple of the Bermudian diet in the 18th century, when the fish was salted for preservation. Myriad cultural influences, from the British Isles to Portugal to the Caribbean, came together in the evolution of Bermuda’s codfish breakfast. This dish is generally served only on Sundays, so plan ahead and enjoy this island tradition.
If you’re after more of a fine-dining experience, you’ll be spoilt for choice — there are historic homes converted into romantic restaurants with classic European cuisine; modern bistros that source their produce from local organic farmers; and upscale hotel restaurants offering a weekly chef’s table.