I stayed at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki this month, and I dined Rapae Bay Restaurant every morning for an included breakfast, and on two of our seven nights on the island. The other five nights we went to Tupuna's whom I have also reviewed. On the left I am in their outdoor lunch cafe looking at the thatched restaurant, on the right I am having breakfast in the thatched restaurant looking back at the cafe. Stunning setting!
They have a reasonably new Chilean chef here, and I suspect he has not seen good examples of many of the dishes he is creating on the breakfast menu.
There is no excuse for English muffins to be served untoasted at a small luxury hotel member restaurant. It does however look very pretty. I heard in my head though 'if you can't eat it, what's it doing on the plate'.
Ditto for pancakes being flat and unappealing.
In case you think it was a mistake, here it is again - untoasted muffins with Eggs Florentine, side of grilled onions. It is possible they think waved under a grill suffices for toasting. It does not.
By the way, grilled bananas don't come with everything, you could add on a side, and I was obsessed with these island bananas so I had them pretty much regardless of what I was eating for breakfast. As a result I can say conclusively, there is nothing that grilled bananas can't make better on this breakfast menu.
His fruit salad was excellent drizzled with nice passionfruit sauce.
Baked good were undercooked.
The French Toast was perhaps one of the best choices due to good, crunchy bread.
If you think I sound ungrateful, I am not. Food at this price on a simple meal like breakfast should be of a minimum standard at a luxury resort. Criticism made, watching the Indian Minors try and steal jam at breakfast was highly entertaining; and seeing Humpback whales breach over your french toast - well you can't beat that. Also, all the breakfasts do look visually appealing, and the ingredients are all good quality, they just need to work on the technique.
We tried one lunch at their cafe (same kitchen) on our first day in Aitutaki. The Cheesy Philadelphia Sandwich was a winner. Nicely cooked meat, but buttered bread is such a simple thing... The cocktails had the best decorations I have ever seen made from leaves and bougainvillea flowers.
The fish and chips was good, but beaten by a tiny island outet down the road who did better batter and tartare for about a third of the price.
In terms of dinner, we tried out two types - the fire show night, and a private dinner on the beach. The first was disappointing because entertainment was too far away, and not viewable seated at our table (we should have been warned) and the food wasn't good enough for the price.
While a beef and scallop carpaccio was unique (though not entirely successful, beef dominated scallop too much)...
...the crab 'pie' turned out to mean unset, sloppy quiche. Paw Paw Daiquiris however are always good.
Seafood pasta was good, but Tupuna's version of the same dish is better.
The profiterole swan made me laugh, and in a good way. It was more swan massacre than swan lake, but I guess blue fruit are hard to come by.
The saving grace though here is how this chef cooks seafood. Our dinner on the beach was lovely, and the cooking was the best I have seen from this chef over the course of our visit. More of these items should be on the Fire Night menu.
There was an entree platter, a dinner platter (with a bowl of carrots each, somewhat odd) and a dessert platter, and it was great in terms of value for money (something say the Fire Night failed to be). On the entree platter, I loved the tuna sashimi and appreciated the excellent oysters being left au natural. One of the main reasons to dine here would be to get things like oysters, which you wont find in the non-resort restaurants as they're air-freighted from New Zealand by and large.
On the main platter, the seared tuna was a particular win, and I didn't see it anywhere else on the island.
This is the dessert platter, I really liked the presentation - unfussy but pretty.
There is definitely room for improvement in this restaurant, but if you are staying at the Pacific Resort, do the dinner on the beach experience. It's like no other, and the food is good enough to not spoil it. Staff are lovely, with particular credit to the ones who lugged our table and food to the beach. Nothing was too much trouble. It is a gorgeous place to dine too, both their beach and their restaurant.
As for the rest, I probably would have all breakfasts at Cafe Koru and all bar one dinner at Tupuna's if I traveled here again, but remember I am all about the food by and large. Service is more formal at Rapae Bay Restaurant and the setting is better, so if you're after elegant fine dining you'd be better to choose here.
Rapae Bay Restaurant
Pacific Resort, Aitutaki
The Cook Islands
Ph: +682 31720