Drive to The Crane Resort, enter the Asian minimalist lobby of Zen, and you’ve left the Caribbean. Sometimes this is a welcome departure, and not just because you long for different taste sensations.
It’s the ambience that first strikes you. Spare, low-lit and dramatic, the long dining room has a view over the cliff to Crane beach. Wait staff in Thai dress glide through on slippered feet, ready to give service that’s attentive, informed and smiling. If it weren’t for the tables and aromas, you might expect a massage.
Japanese and Thai cuisine share the spotlight, and taster menus give good samples of each. For good reason, Zagat rated Zen as tops for food in 2009 and 2010. It remains delicious.
Except for udon (plebian noodle dishes) the Japanese menu offers everything you’d expect in a major metropolis. Sushi and sashimi are superbly prepared and presented, and range from well-known to more exotic items. With tempura and teriyaki chicken and beef, those who don’t like fish or prefer their food cooked will find plenty to please as well.
Noted for its intriguing aromas, good Thai cuisine balances five fundamental tastes, often including a flash of fiery spice. Zen does it superbly, and gains extra points for texture too, especially in dishes like crispy beef toast or nutty Thai fried rice served in a pineapple. Redolent of lemongrass and ginger, the traditional chicken in coconut milk soup is utterly divine.
The wine list provides familiar favorites as well as lesser-known choices that pair well with the menu.
There are several seating options, each offering a different experience. For views, request a cliffside table. For comfort and privacy, get a booth. For a party, book a tatami room. For sociability and something to watch happening, choose the sushi bar.
When it comes to exotic dining in Barbados, Zen is close to nirvana.
- Be sure to make reservations.
- Be prepared to spend.
- Seating varies a lot; reserve accordingly.
- Dinner only: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Closed on Tuesdays)