Have you ever vacationed somewhere and wished that you could live there permanently? Well, that is the story of Chef Scott Cole and his wife Kate. In 2006, the couple decided to move from their home in Raleigh, North Carolina and establish a restaurant in the island of Vieques called El Quenepo. It would prove to be one of the best decisions in their life.
For those of you who may not know, Vieques is a part of Puerto Rico and it is located 8 miles east from the mainland. Considered a tropical paradise, its beaches are hands down some of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. Having heard so many good things about El Quenepo, I decided to check it out on a recent weekend getaway Fernando and I made to Vieques.
El Quenepo is located in the Esperanza waterfront surrounded by various bars and restaurants. Its facade is modest, yet elegant. The restaurant’s candle lit tables and the light ocean breeze which entered through its open doors provided the perfect atmosphere for the dinner to follow.
We were quickly seated at the table and given the dinner menu and wine list. Aside from the appetizers and entrée options available, our waitress informed us of the daily specials which consist mainly of fresh seafood caught by the local fishermen. As an added bonus, many of the greens on the menu are grown on the island. So this is as fresh as it gets people! We decided to go with the specials for the day and ordered the lobster bisque as our appetizer. For the main course, Fernando ordered the Curried Goat (Cabro al Curry) and requested that the chef prepare it extra spicy (we love spicy food!). As for me, I ordered the Queen Triggerfish (pez peje puerco) with the chorizo and parmesan risotto. Although the food did not arrive quickly, it was definitely worth the wait. The lobster bisque was to die for. The succulent creamy broth and the tender pieces of lobster were a symphony to my palate. Sadly, I was so absorbed in the experience that I forgot to take a picture of it.
It was then time for the main event. Fernando loved his curried goat which came with a side of jasmine rice. He particularly appreciated the level of spice added to the dish. He devoured the it so fast that he did not even give me a chance to take a picture. As for my triggerfish, it was tender, juicy, and topped with a light creole sauce. The chorizo and parmesan risotto provided the perfect pairing for the fish.
Even though we were stuffed at this point, the dinner could not be complete without dessert. After evaluating our options, we opted for the vanilla bean creme brûlée. Who doesn’t love creme brûlée right?
The service at El Quenepo is friendly and attentive. It’s a little pricey, but the food is definitely worth it. I recommend this restaurant either for a romantic night out or dinner with friends and/or family. Do not forget to make your reservations in advance since this place is almost always full.
So foodies, whenever you have the chance to visit Vieques do not miss out on this amazing restaurant.