BY Nadia Hall
Art Mel’s is an institution. A dear friend that I’ve known for over half of my lifetime had finally made the trip over from London. A dream guest, an easy-going, low-maintenance sort of guy – his demands had been simple: he just wanted to catch up, relax and eat some good food. The only real specific: a fish sandwich and a ginger beer.
Naturally, we went to Art Mel’s. I chose the newer, St. George’s location, Spicy Dicy, to allow time to explore The Olde Towne. Arthur Smith, Art himself, is a taste of the old Bermuda and I’ve often heard him described as a “Real Bermudian,” a role model, hard working, honest and open-hearted. Averse to promotion and advertising, he operated for years in his Monica’s Road branch without even a sign above the door, with faith that the quality of his product would draw a loyal crowd. “If you do it well, you don’t have to do anything at all,” he instructs.
His daughter Jade, a mighty girl, self-labeled multitasker, and force-to-be-reckoned-with was at the helm, taking care of all orders and the till. We came in after the lunch rush and she took a break from her post to entertain my son while I sat in a booth to feed both belly and brain, gaining important life lessons from her father. We spoke of a Bermuda past that valued community and a greater purpose.
We both opted for the classic fish sandwich, a hefty doorstop, with hot sauce, tartar sauce and coleslaw on the softest homemade raisin bread. It was, quite simply, the best. My friend, I have to tell you, has a relentless sweet tooth. No meal is complete without dessert and the torrential downpour provided another excellent reason to stay for more. Their almost-but-not-quite-as-famous ginger bread is everything you want a cake to be. Moist and fluffy with the perfect balance of ginger and sweet.
It’s been such a full afternoon that I tell Mr. Smith I’ve enjoyed our time together more than his celebrated fish sandwich. “Really?” he asked me, surprised. Well, I reassess, it’s a close second.
9 St. Monica’s Road, Hamilton
441 295 3965
Water Street, St. Georges
441 297 3965