Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Frog and Onion Pub, Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda - Restaurant Review

The Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda
My wife and I just recently got back from a combination road trip to Boston and cruise to Bermuda.  I decided to kick off my series of posts with a restaurant review, this one of the first restaurant we visited in Bermuda, the Frog and Onion Pub at the Royal Naval Dockyard.  You might be wondering why we're eating in a restaurant when we came to Bermuda on a cruise ship, where your fare includes the right to stuff yourself silly 24/7.  Well, this particular itinerary gave us from 11 A.M. Sunday to 5 P.M. Tuesday on the islands, and to get the most out of your time, it's best to get an early start and not have to keep going back and forth to the ship.  Therefore, we made plans to have lunch off the ship each day.

A reminder of my proprietary, double secret rating system:

5 - I Would Walk 500 Miles (And I Would Walk 500 More) to visit this place
4 - Worth a visit when in town
3 - Meh; I won't object if a friend suggests it, but I wouldn't recommend it on my own
2 - Only if nothing else is open
1 - Run, Sriram, Run!

The Frog and Onion Pub

Royal Naval Dockyard, Somerset Island, Bermuda
Lunch 11:30-5:30, dinner 5:30-9:30, bar 11:30-midnight, 7 days a week (in season)
Price - $30-40 per person (includes 1 pint of beer and a soda)
Directions:  Between the Bermuda Craft Market and the Bermuda Arts Center, across from the Bermuda Maritime Museum; in an area of the Dockyard known as "Victualling Yard".  From Hamilton, take the ferry or the #7 or #8 bus to Dockyard.

Before I start, a word about restaurant tipping in Bermuda - with very few exceptions, restaurants in Bermuda automatically add a 15-18% gratuity to your bill, regardless of the number of people in your party.  Don't be fooled and double tip, unless you found the service so awesome that it deserves a 30-35% gratuity.

The Frog and Onion gets quite a bit of publicity on cruise review board such as Cruise Critic, primarily due to its proximity to the cruise ship dock (a 5 minute walk), but also because it has a reputation for good food and fun.  When walking to the Bermuda Craft Market from the ferry dock, the Frog and Onion is right there as you enter the building.

The place has a very British-pub feel to it.

We went in a little after 12, and were surprised to find not that many people here.  I was later told that the crowds would be a lot worse tomorrow, with a Royal Caribbean ship scheduled to arrive in the morning.  Something to consider if you are planning a trip to this part of Bermuda - try to stay away when two ships will be in at once, as the Dockyard can get congested.

The British pub feel is appropriate because the food consists of some very British fare, along with an on-site microbrewery (hence the Dockyard Brewing Company).  We started off with the red onion rings.
These were good - nice and crispy without being excessively greasy.  The dipping sauce, which they call "Bermuda Jam Storm Surge Dip", was really good, kind of like a sweet & sour sauce.  I just wish there was more of it.  (Incidentally, don't be scared off by the bottled water - tap water is safe to drink in Bermuda.)  For the main course, I ordered the Ploughman's lunch, and my wife had the baked salmon.

What is a Ploughman's lunch?  Welcome to the British version of the smorgasboard - pork pie, cheese, apple, pickled onion, carrots, tomatoes, pickle condiment, butter, and a baguette, set up for you on a cutting board to mix and match as you please.  This was a deceptively small looking dish; in fact, the pork pie is REALLY filling, and this meal will stuff you pretty good.  The pie of course is the center of the dish, and is something of an acquired taste.  It is served cold, and was kind of like eating a ginormous cold cut sandwich.  I couldn't quite decide how much I liked it.  The pork was tender and well-seasoned, but something seemed just a bit odd about eating a giant slab of meat cold.  My wife said she thoroughly enjoyed the salmon.  I'm not a fish person, but I have to say, it did look pretty good.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the Frog and Onion features an on-site microberwery, the Dockyard Brewing Company.  I tried the Somers Amber Ale.  I like the occasional amber beer, and this is a good one, if not a great one, if you like ambers.  Prices are high, but not outrageous - $4.75 for a half pint (9 oz), $8.25 for a pint (20 oz.), or a 6 oz. sampler of each beer on tap (5 beers, 30 oz. total) for $12.95.  The big gimmick promotion here is if you order a 50 oz. beer or a gigantic (probably the equivalent of 3 cocktails) Dark 'n Stormy (a Bermudian cocktail made with ginger beer and rum), you get to keep the glass.  You can also get Bermuda's more well-known signature cocktail, the rum swizzle, here.  Just so you know, much as is the case with mai tais in Hawai'i, having a rum swizzle is mandatory when you visit Bermuda.

You might think service would suffer given the automatic tipping (I have seen this to some extent in Europe, depending on where you are).  I found the service to be just fine, though admittedly, the restaurant wasn't very full when we were there.  Our waiter periodically checked in on us, and was a friendly fellow.  We were in and out in just around an hour.  They did have some live music starting at 1:30, and the website advertises music every Monday night from 9 P.M. to midnight.  Both NCL and Royal Caribbean are in town Monday night, so if you're heading here via cruise ship, you'll have the opportunity to check this out if you're in to live music.

Rating:  4 stars.  Good food, not terribly expensive, and a good atmosphere.  The pub looks like it would be a lot of fun in the evening.  Just be cautious if both cruise ships are in town at the same time; I've heard the place does get a tad busy.

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