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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

FLAME TREE
RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS

This is the best restaurant on the beautiful island of Rarotonga.  It features a typical South Pacific ambience with lots of tropical adornments.

Tropical drinks are very popular here, especially after a hot day in the South Pacific sun.

Seafood is prominently featured at this upper class restaurant although dress is extremely casual.  All of our hungry diners started with various tropical appetizers and then moved on to a fresh fish main course.  The sauces they use are outstanding.  Flavorful, creative, yet not too "way out" and overpowering.  They do an excellent curry here and if fresh parrotfish is on the menu on the night you visit, you ought to give it a shot.  This is a tasty fish but it must be eaten soon after it's caught so when you see it on the menu, you know it's gonna be fresh.  I snorkel a lot and whenever I eat parrotfish I wonder if it's one I've seen earlier in the day munchin' on coral in the lagoon!  They are beautiful fish!  They have large beaks used to munch on the coral and that's how they got their name.  While snorkeling you can actually hear the coral crunchers before you see 'em.  In crunching the coral they almost sound like an Alka Seltzer going off under the water.

They've got some really nice desserts at the Flame Tree.  By the time your party of four adults leaves, the bill will probably come to just over $100 with wine.

The proprietor of the Flame Tree (at the time of our visit, anyway), Sue Carruthers, has written two cookbooks and you can usually buy both of them at the restaurant.  One is The Vegetarian Adventure Cookbook.  The other one is called The Flame Tree Cookbook which features seafood, meat and other dishes.  Unfortunately they were out of the latter book when we visited so I guess we'll just have to go back again to get the book!  Actually I'm not sure whether Sue is still there or not.  They have a new web site and it lists the owners as being "Alan and Laura."  Hopefully they still sell the books!

Rarotonga is a wonderful island.  When we were there, there wasn't even one, single stoplight.  The stars were brilliant and the people were extremely friendly.  And unlike some other islands in the South Pacific, even during the peak of the tourist season, this little island never feels crowded or rushed.

The Flame Tree is located on the main drag on the Muri Lagoon side of the island and is within walking distance of some major motels including the Muri Beachcomber, The Pacific Resort and Sokala Villas.  I would suggest making a reservation.  Enjoy!!!

Update - The Flame Tree now has a nice web site here.

ADDITIONAL RESTAURANT REVIEWS FROM RAROTONGA:

Portofino
Trader Jack's
Tumunu


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