Oct. 26, 2001- Villa Olga has long been one of my favorite haunts. It has one of the most beautiful pegged bars in the territory. The site on the end of the peninsula is well removed from the downtown hustle and bustle, and one is left to focus on one's companions and the food.
The establishment there today is The Pointe at Villa Olga. The word pointe comes from ballet and means that position of being on the toe — obviously referring to the restaurant's position "on the toe" of the peninsula.
The wine menu is well developed with some very nice items; prices appear to follow the 200 to 300 percent markup which restaurateurs feel is necessary to compensate them for providing a couple of glasses, a napkin and, maybe, a bucket of ice. Drinks are relatively generous and priced to compete with the finer establishments on the island and in Manhattan. If you have time to kill waiting for someone, the bartender is personable and conversation-worthy.
The Pointe has streamlined the old Chart House salad bar, added tapas and priced it as a side dish. The Caesar salad is very good and mixed in small quantities, which keeps it crisp. The raw items are plentiful, appear fresh but are not very exciting. The tapas are hard to pass up but a bit bland. The mozzarella is chewy and almost tasteless.
To go with the mixed greens is a choice of additives guaranteed to bring your taste buds to life. Almost spilling over the edge of the table beyond are a couple of spreads super rich in flavor that bring the bread to life.
Salad suggestion: Explore the entire buffet before making your selections, then mix and match a medley to your taste. (You may need to experiment a bit, as there are many items you most likely do not have on the shelf or in the fridge at home.)
Among the tapas, the stuffed eggplant is the highlight, with an array of flavorful olives next best. I do not know of another salad bar on the island that begins to compare with The Pointe's. There is something for everyone, including the heart-health experts.
Different breads — all four I tried are delicious — are offered at the salad line, along with pats of butter and bean/garlic spread. The spread is good and strong, so taste it before slathering it on. I particularly like the black bread, with its strong molasses flavor with random plump raisins.
Our table tried the swordfish, stuffed pork chop, and ribs. The meat portions are adequate to satisfy most eaters, and the rice has a very nice flavor. The pork chop is stuffed with a wonderful cheese mixture that brings the entree into the arena of ambrosia.
Dessert includes coffee/mocha mud pie with an Oreo crust, topped with chocolate sauce and mounded with whipped cream. If you are not yet overwhelmed by the quantity of food, you can go for the Cruzan-crusted reinvention of the mud pie. My companions and I decided servings of the "normal" pie would do us, and we were able to walk out of the establishment under our own power.
I was surprised at the number of Virgin Islands residents dining at The Pointe the night we were there. The food is plentiful, and the setting is one of the best. For us, the overall price per person came to about $45 for two small glasses of a less-expensive wine, the least expensive entree, salad bar and mud pie. This is relatively good for St. Thomas and very good given what you get.
For a better deal, you used to have to arrive early to order the "early bird special" dinners — salad bar, limited entree choices and dessert. But now the "specials" are available all evening, and they've added six more entrees. Any and all come complete with the same unsurpassable ambience, good service and superbly prepared food. It does it for me. Oh, yes: The restrooms are well designed, roomy and clean.
The Pointe is a participant in the Rotary East Dine Out Program. The 2001 book of coupons — which entitle the holder to a free second entree, drink, or dessert, depending on the establishment — is valid until Dec. 15. You can save the $15 cost at one sitting, and your money goes for a good cause — the Rotary's scholarship program for Eudora Kean High School students. For details, see "Coupon books let you dine well and do good".
The Pointe at Villa Olga
Ambience: 5 stars
Food: 5 stars
Service: 5 stars
Value: 5 stars
Frenchtown, southeast end of peninsula
Dinner 5-10 p.m. daily
From the grill
Amex, Visa, MasterCard, Discover
Editor's note: The Tottering Taster is a senior citizen dedicated to enjoying good food who periodically dines in local establishments to bring Source readers unsolicited assessments biased in favor of an ultimate eating-out experience. The individual uses a pseudonym so restaurant personnel will not be able to identify the reviewer and try to influence the review.