Bermuda’s eclectic cuisine is a reflection of its history, from the accidental arrival on an uninhabited island by English survivors of sea project Shipwreck, through centuries of the transatlantic slave trade, to the arrival of Portuguese farmers from the Azores.
British, African, Portuguese, Western and West Indian culinary influences and traditional ingredients and methods have shaped the country’s classic dishes, while Bermuda’s mid-Atlantic location ensures an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish.
While it’s terribly unlikely that you’ll find staples that Bermudians have lived on over the centuries, such as shark weed, the contemporary dining scene extends from fusion restaurants and simple grilled fish joints to British-style pubs and restaurants showcasing Italian, flavours. Jamaican, Chinese and other global. The island is also famous for Gosling’s Black Seal, used in Bermuda’s signature cocktail. Here are the local specialties that you can’t miss.
Start your day off right with a cod and chips or a Bermuda fish cake
Usually enjoyed on Sunday mornings these days, cod and chips is a dish that evolved from the 18th century popularity. At that time, ample amounts of bacalao (salted cod) was imported from Portugal as an inexpensive way to feed the enslaved population ever since bacalao stays forever. Today’s breakfast dish comes with boiled potatoes, avocado and boiled eggs, with tomato sauce or onion sauce. Bermuda fish cake is a fun spin on the plate, with bacalaoand peas, rice, crunchy bacon, onions, and thyme mashed into a pie (and served with hot buns during Easter).
Where to try it: Bouchet, Island Kitchen, White Horse.
Eat a fish sandwich
The famous Bermuda sandwich is on most menus and consists of large slices of breaded fish sandwiched between two slices of raisin or whole wheat bread and topped with homemade tartar sauce. Depending on where you get it from, you may have the option of ordering “businesses”: cabbage salad, hot sauce, grilled Bermuda onions, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. It is not a dish that can be eaten deliciously.
Where to try it: Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy, Mama Angie’s, Fish N Tings, and Rosa’s.
Chow on fish soup
Bermuda’s hearty fish stew is similar to Louisiana’s gumbo, the island’s national dish. The composition varies from house to house, but you’ll likely find chunks of fish, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and green peppers, with the added black rum and sherry pepper ring in Otterbridge adding extra flavor and fire. Chowder is allegedly as old as Bermuda, with survivors of sea project Shipwreck makes soup out of anything they can swish.
Other soups with a proud history to look out for are Bermudian onion soup, similarly seasoned with Outerbridge sherry pepper sauce and Portuguese red bean soup.
Where to try it: The Lobster Pot, Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio, St David’s Seafood & Grill, Tom Moore’s Tavern, Hog Penny.
Wipe it with Johnny Bread
The Bahamas will recognize this simple Bermudian dish because they also make a version of Johnnycake or Johnnybread (generally cooked cornmeal). Fishermen would live out at sea for days on the stuff, cooking it inside the boat in a box full of sand, and it’s still served as a side dish in restaurants around the island.
Where to try it: Almost every restaurant in Bermuda serves this classic.
Order grilled rockfish
The Atlantic waters around Bermuda are particularly rich in many species of beach and ocean fish, including yellowfin tuna, mahi, wahoo, and snapper. Rockfish (Black grouper) is arguably the most popular and you will find it in any seafood restaurant that is worth their salt in various forms. Get it the Bermuda way: stir-fried in a lemon butter sauce, served with toasted almonds and roasted bananas (although steamed, baked, or grilled are delicious, too).
Where to try it: Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio, Barracuda Grill, Fourways Inn.
Add help from Hoppin’ John
Hoppin’ John (also known as Hop ‘n’ John or Peas ‘n’ Rice) is a regular accompaniment to Bermudian main dishes and a tasty dish in itself, a mixture of cooked black peas with bacon, Portuguese sausage, brown rice, Bermuda onion, garlic and thyme. . If you like Hoppin’ John, also look out for Peas ‘n’ Plenty – another black-eyed pea dish that includes salt pork, rice, Bermuda onions and the occasional addition of boiled sweet potatoes.
Where to try it: Mad Hatters (although most restaurants have their own version).
Treat yourself to spiny lobsters
Bisque, thermidor, breaded, curry, in ravioli, with pasta…there are so many ways to enjoy a delicious Bermuda delicacy. Similar to Maine lobsters, Caribbean spiny lobsters are found on menus across the island during the September to March season (the rest of the year, they will feed on their cousins from the East Coast of America.
Where to try it: Patio and Bistro Wahoo, Lost in the Triangle, Bermuda Bistro at the Beach, Fourways Inn.
Keep it old school with mussel pie
Mussel pie is one of the staples of Bermuda’s early settlers who made heavy use of local oysters – a savory pastry filled with mussels cooked in fish broth with potatoes, carrots, onions, thyme and salt. Another variation is a curry mussel pancake.
Speaking of old-school pies, you can also enjoy a pastry filled with Bermuda onions – a sweet onion that can be eaten raw like an apple that locals are so proud of.
Where to try it: The pie factory.
Dress up for afternoon tea
Biting off savory cucumber or smoked salmon, cream sandwiches with chunks of crust and eating a selection of sweet petit fours while sipping on a cup of tea is a classic British activity. Which makes it a classic Bermudian pastime as well, practiced by many hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants between 3pm and 5pm, especially on weekends. dress well; The locals do.
Where to try it: Crown & Anchor, Sweet P’s High Tea, The Dockyard Pastry Shop, Conservatory Bar & Lounge.
Add some sweet flavor with a cassava pie or a black rum pie
We don’t know who were the first indigenous peoples in South America to discover that you can make cassava fit for human consumption if you first squeeze all the poisonous juices from the starchy tuber, but you have to thank them for this wonderful dessert. Cassava cultivation dates back to the early settlers of Bermuda, and the sweet cassava pie is as much a Christmas staple as roast turkey. (Another delicious holiday dessert is sweet potato pudding, which is served as an accompaniment to Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Day on November 5.) Finally, if you’re looking for a sweet, moist, and buttery treat that’s available year-round, look no further than Bermuda Black Fruit Cake.
Where do you experience them: Cassava Pie: Supermart; Black rum fruitcake: Dockyard Company Ltd.
Wash it off with Dark ‘n’ Stormy
Rum has been the favorite drink of Bermudian sailors, pirates, and merchants alike for hundreds of years, ever since Gosling’s dark, luscious black Seal rum was first distilled on the island in 1806. The drink – Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail, which also contains ginger ale lane, which takes its name from the dark and stormy night that left the original colonists stranded on the island after sea project Crashed on the reef.
Where to try it: Rum Gosling Distillery, The Hog Penny.
Sip on a Swizzle
Bermuda’s other national drink and the biggest competitor to Dark ‘n’ Stormy is Swizzle. The Sturdy Nipple includes a blend of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Gosling’s Gold Seal Rum, Falernum (a local sweetener), orange juice, pineapple juice, and Angostura, and most Bermudians have their own recipe they swear by. In fact, after a few Swizzles, some just can’t stop swearing. You can try out the original at the Swizzle Inn in Bailey’s Bay, and you can even try to get your name on the Wall of Champions by throwing as many Swizzles as you can in one sitting (the record is currently 30, apparently).
Where to try it: Swizzle Inn.
Make it sweet with loquat jam and or loquat liqueur
Originally imported from the cold mountain regions of China and looking like little plums, they are small, wild yellow fruits that locals feast on from late January through March in order to make them into jam. Some go even further and combine berries, rock sugar, and Gosling’s Light Rum in order to brew them into an aromatic, amber-colored liqueur that was originally popularized as an afternoon tea in the 1840s; The professionally produced version is known as Bermuda Gold and is used in citrusy fruit cocktails on the island.
Where do you experience them: Jam: Gift Shops in Hamilton and The Dockyard; Loquat liqueur: Gosling rum distillery.
Don’t deny vegans
There are plenty of cafés and restaurants in Bermuda that serve vegetarian and vegan dishes alongside other cuisines, or cater exclusively to the vegan or dairy-free lifestyle clientele.
Where to try it: Devil’s Isle Café, Huckleberry Restaurant, Nonna’s Kitchen, Green Light Café.