Great effort has been expended by hotel and restaurant chefs in developing an ostensibly ‘traditional Bermudian cuisine’, although this has usually meant adapting other cuisines, from West Indian to Californian, in line with the expectations of visiting clientele.
Most pubs serve a typical British Pub fare, although the number of these establishments has diminished in recent years as premises are lost to development, or establishments are redeveloped to target the tourist market.
While lobster and other seafoods are often featured on the menu, virtually everything is imported from the US or Canada. This shows in the price of even casual dining and groceries: locally produced foodstuffs are typically less varied, of poorer quality, produced in smaller quantities, and more expensive. Most bananas, for instance, will have a ‘Chiquita’ sticker, and are larger than those grown locally (which do have the advantage of ripening on the plant).
A law in Bermuda prohibits most multinational fast food chains (such as McDonald’s) from opening restaurants on the island – the only one allowed to operate is a KFC owned by Bermudians in the City of Hamilton.
Local specialities include:
- Salted codfish, boiled with potatoes. The traditional Sunday breakfast.
- Hoppin’ John. Boiled rice and black-eyed peas.
- Cassava pie. Farine is an alternate base. Traditionally eaten at Christmas, but becoming more commonly found in local markets year-round.
- Bay grape jelly. Bay grapes were introduced as a windbreak. Although, like Suriname cherries and loquats, they are found throughout Bermuda and produce edible fruit, none of these plants are cultivated for agriculture, and their fruits are normally eaten from the tree, primarily by school children.
- Bermuda bananas, which are smaller and sweeter than others, are often eaten on Sunday mornings with codfish and potatoes.
- Fish is a common feature on restaurant menus across the island: local tuna, wahoo, and rockfish.
- Fish chowder, made with fish, tomatoes, and other vegetables, and seasoned with sherry pepper sauce and dark rum, is a local favourite. It enjoys the status of national dish.
- Shark hash
- Fish cakes. Traditionally eaten on Fridays.
- Hot cross buns are an Easter favourite.
Restaurants and dining options:
Restaurants can be found all over the island, with the largest concentration in Hamilton and St George’s. Also, there are several at some of the hotels which are outstanding, although pricey. At Elbow Beach Hotel, Cafe Lido is excellent, and Southampton Fairmont Waterlot Inn, although sometimes crowded and noisy, has excellent dining.
With most restaurants, the closer you are to the cruise ship docks, the more expensive the menu will be. Most cruise ship passengers have a short time in which to experience Bermuda, and if they don’t eat on the ship, most will be reluctant to leave the town to eat. The restaurants in proximity to the cruise ship docks in, say, St. George’s can be as much as three times as expensive as a comparable one in, say, Somerset Village.
The Pickled Onion was formerly a British-style pub called the Cock and Feather.
Bermuda’s first and only Irish pub is Flannagan’s.
Bermuda has two popular drinks:
- Rum Swizzle is a rum cocktail made of Demerera Rum (amber rum) and Jamaican Rum (dark rum) along with an assortment of citrus juices. Sometimes brandy is added to the mixture as well. It is quite a strong drink. According to local lore, it was named after the Swizzle Inn (although swizzle is a term that originated in England, possibly in the 18th century), where it is said to have been developed.
- Dark n’ Stormy is a highball of Gosling’s Black Seal, a dark blend of local rums, mixed with Barritt’s Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer.
Both drinks are comparatively very sweet.