Very hungry traveller Raff road-tests an array of the impressive culinary offerings of offer in his comprehensive Plantation Island Resort Dining Guide.
There were a lot of things about Plantation Island Resort that had me smitten almost at first sight. There was the incredibly warm and lovely staff, the insane location on gorgeous Malolo Lai, the unbelievably blue water, all the amazing activities in and above said water, and the resort’s openness to marine conservation initiatives. The list just goes on and on. But, as everyone knows, the fastest way to my heart is via my stomach, and I’m happy to say that all of Plantation Island Resort’s dining offerings scored a direct hit.
I have to admit, I don’t usually expect all that much from resort dining, because it’s often a little ordinary, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the abundance, quality and variety of food spread across Plantation Island Resort’s three unique restaurants. I also loved that we could go from fine dining to casual in only a short stroll. And with awesome live guitarists and singers at every restaurant from breakfast to dinner, the vibe across all three was amazing.
So, what exactly is on offer for hungry guests at Plantation Island Resort. Where do I start?
Tavola Restaurant and Bar
The newest of Plantation Island Resort’s dining offerings, Tavola dishes out some of the best food on the island in breezy Fijian style on a spectacular ocean-front setting, which just happens to be one of the best spots to watch one of those famous Fijian sunsets. There’s an added bonus of a gorgeous blazingly blue infinity pool sitting right inside the Tavola restaurant complex, so you can get some much-needed splashing in while you wait for your order.
But back to the food. This restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I tried them all. An a la carte breakfast menu had plenty of enticing options, but I grabbed a massive brekkie burrito stuffed full of eggs, beans, sausage and chopped greens, and packed full of flavour, my sister dug into some truly decadent French toast with passionfruit lassi cream, seasonal fruit, raki raki honey and toasted almonds toast.
But mum won breakfast with an enormous platter of well, everything! satay chicken skewer, mushrooms, poached eggs, bacon, spicy sausage and fritters. Lucky for me, she has a smaller appetite than me so I got to polish off half of it.
As good as breakfast was, it’s at lunch and dinner that Tavola really shines. There’s literally something for every palate. And a comprehensive kid’s menu for little diners with simple tastes. That’s not us though so we dove into the main menu.
At lunch my sister grabbed a simple sounding chicken and mushroom fettuccine which was way, way better than we could have imagined. Bathed in a white wine sauce with roasted garlic, bacon, parmesan cheese, and drizzled in basil pesto it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a while. How would I know? Because the servings are huge, and I helped my her clean the bowl.
But mum and I were in the mood for curry and decided to try a few different types, which was an excellent decision as it turns out that Fijian Indian style curries are flavour bombs. I had the lamb masala curry. Served on a tray the earthy lamb curry was melt-in-the-mouth delicious and made even more flavoursome with the accompanying tamarind and chilli condiments, homemade chutney, achaar, a bowl of the fluffiest steamed rice, and soft and steaming roti and papadum.
Mum ordered a chicken curry with perfectly cooked chicken and a rich complex sauce. Hers was also accompanied by a variety of carefully matched condiments, rice and roti. It was so good she wouldn’t let me near and though she gave me a tiny taste, for once I didn’t get to lick her plate clean as she polished it off herself.
At dinner, having been taunted by mum’s chicken curry lunch, I had to order that. It was equal to the lamb in flavour and execution, and I’d be happy to eat it all day. Every day. My sister hit repeat on the pasta and mum took a menu detour, ordering the seafood hotpot that was absolute perfection.
The huge bowl of seafood delights rocked a succulent slab of grilled reef fish served with huge prawns, squid, greens and glass noodles in a punchy passionfruit and lemongrass broth.
And to finish was an insanely tasty dessert of Vudi Vakasoso, soft plantain banana poached in coconut cream with caramel sauce. Delish!
Black Coral Grill
Open for dinner only, I reckon I had one of the best steaks of my life at Black Coral Grill. Though technically it wasn’t mine. But before I tell you about that, let me tell you about our entrees. Mum and I both had the king fish kokoda (pronounced kokonda), cured in lime juice and smothered in fresh coconut cream, cilantro salsa and served with delicious thick cut cassava chips was dreamy.
Seriously, as a long-time ceviche lover, this coconutty Fijian interpretation may be one of my new favourite things.
Then, as we were serenaded by one of Plantation Island Resort’s talented guitarist and singers under the stars, we moved on to mains. Of course, I gravitated towards the spice and ordered a traditional Fijian chicken curry. First let me say, I have no regrets as it was absolutely divine, taking inspiration from Indian curries but somehow having its own unique flavours that kicked it from good to great.
But Mum’s dish won the prize as the most covetable dinner of the night. She’s not usually a steak eater so I was surprised when she ordered the surf and turf. But this was no ordinary surf and turf. The huge slab of angus beef tender loin was brought to the table raw and served with slipper lobster alongside.
Of course, it isn’t meant to be eaten that way, and is served on a sizzling hot volcanic stone, so you can cook it to your exact liking at the table. Lucky for me, Mum likes steaks the same way I do, medium rare. And because she’s awesome, she let me have half of the perfect beurre blanc smothered steak, and a chunk of the silky slipper lobster too. But I let her finish the potatoes and vegetables that accompanied it. Because I’m generous that way.
Copra Restaurant & Brigham Bar
Last but certainly not least is Copra Restaurant & Brigham Bar. Located in the centre of the resort, it is the beating heart of Planation Island Resort. Open for breakfast and dinner for buffet style dining, and lunch for casual a la carte eats, it’s also where all the entertainment happens after dark with torch lighting, kava ceremonies, Polynesian dancing, crab racing and even talent quests taking place in its lounge area. And the place we loved getting our (virgin) mango daiquiris.
Can anything ever really beat a breakfast buffet? Copra has all the usual stuff… heaps of pastries, breads, yoghurts and fruit. Fresh flipped pancakes. There was an egg station whipping out omelettes to order and perfect poached eggs. Plus, there’s plenty of hot stuff like beans, mushies and crispy bacon. And much to my sisters delights. Donuts.
But the most unusual but delicious brekkie accompaniment I’ve had in a while, was their huge, fluffy spinach pakoras. Yum.
After a morning of water sports, we could take our barefoot, salt-crusted selves to Copra Restaurant for a laid-back lunch. The menu is simple and snacky, with heaps of sandos, burgers, hot dogs, chips and pies. It’s the perfect place for grabbing a quick bite so you can hop right back into the ocean or enjoy one of the many other activities Plantation Island offers. My sister delved into a bowl of vegetarian nachos topped with spicy jalapeños and tangy salsa. Mum devoured her Steak Ciabatta, piled high with onions, eggplant and mayo and accompanied with crispy fries. But I think my soul may be part Fijian, as once again I couldn’t go past the local dish of Kokoda.
For dinner it’s back to buffet but don’t expect to get bored, as there’s a completely different theme each night. You could literally eat dinner here for a week and still find something new to taste. Whether it’s Euro, Mediterranean, Singaporean, Sunday Roast or a barbecue buffet, expect a huge variety of flavourful food to be bursting from the bain–maries. My picks though are the Pacifika Magiti night for local Fijian delights, and the curry buffet… which is utterly irresistible to this dedicated spice lover.
Reviewed by Raff – 14
Plantation Island Resort
Disclosure: Raff was a guest of Planation Island Resort, curry consumption, buffet binging and opinions are his own.