Food is an incredibly important part of your stay at Gili Lankanfushi and I was lucky enough to meet Executive Chef John Bakker while I was there. Canadian-born, John has worked in starry kitchens all over the world including the Ritz in London, but he found paradise at Gili Lankanfushi in The Maldives. John is utterly passionate about fresh and local produce and this dedication and love comes across in his absolutely wonderful food. In this post I’m excited to tell you all about the wonderful dining experiences and the incredible settings at the resort.
I met John on his home turf, the hotel’s Organic Leaf Garden where he grows all the produce used in the hotel’s restaurants.
Here John is incredibly proud of having a quarter of an acre of the freshest possible ingredients to put into his dishes.
Eco-friendly practices and sustainability is always at the heart of the ethos at Gili Lankanfushi. John showed me the Rocket Composter, a tool that means there is very little waste on the island and anything that can be is reused.
Destination dining is one of Gili Lankanfushi’s fortés and John told me there’s basically no limit when it come to creating a romantic dinner set up for the guests. Eating among the bed of the beautiful garden is a popular choice in itself. Also located in the garden is 360°, almost like a crow’s nest, this platform sits above the trees, gardens and beaches and allows diners to enjoy a panoramic view of the island.
Meals at Gili Lankanfushi are always extra ordinary.
Literally is there any better way to start the day then a crisp glass of champagne and a plate of mango with a view of the Indian Ocean? No, I didn’t think so…
Breakfast is served at the Main Restaurant, where most of the tables are right on the beach with a totally uninterrupted view of the Indian Ocean. The food here is gourmet and by night it turns into the hotel’s fine dining restaurant and while the setting is elegant it’s still casual – no one looks out of place in shorts and barefoot!
There’s a small but perfectly formed buffet inside the restaurant. With a selection of freshly made bread and pastries.
We could choose from fresh salads, delicious cereals with an array of toppings, a fresh fruit station, even sushi and sashimi! There was a also selection of hot dishes on the buffet and if this wasn’t enough you could order from the à la carte menu too.
And surely pour-your-own champagne is the sign of a good buffet!
Isn’t that one of the best things about being an adult? You can order exactly what you want for breakfast… including waffles, ice cream and a glass of champagne.
Or a beautifully prepared local Madivian reef fish.
At Gili Lankanfushi, lunch takes place in the location of dreams…
Perched on stilts above the lagoon, the Over Water Bar is perhaps the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever been to.
A short stroll along the boardwalk from the Main Restaurant you’re soon in the cool shade of this beautiful place.
Before we move on to the food itself, I want to give you a quick tour of the interior. You can perch up at the bar, chatting to the friendly bar staff over a signature cocktail.
Or you can stay right by the water’s edge with out even going outside, sipping a cocktail with the fish swimming just under your feet.
You can sit in a comfortable booth in this side unit.
Take a table by the water’s edge.
Or if you want to stay in the sun and enjoy a panoramic view of the resort, head to the end of the jetty for a sun lounger, hammock or table.
I’m a big fan of restaurants with a view, everything just seems to taste even better! Especially when that view is of such a beautiful turquoise ocean.
There’s two options for lunch at the Over Water Bar, on our first day we went for option one. That’s a perfect buffet of organic salads followed by a choice of the chef’s specials.
Of course, everything is from the Organic Leaf Garden and is as fresh as can be! It was the perfect light way to start a meal in the hot weather.
Chef’s specials that day were pork ribs, a favourite for Mr S.
And fish tacos for me…I was seriously spoilt by the quality of the fish during our stay in The Maldives. Chef John told me at Gili, they particularly benefit from their proximity to the main island meaning the fish is even more fresh.
If you’re willing to wait a little longer, you can forgo the buffet at lunch time and opt for the à la carte.
With tuna being a firm favourite in the Maldives, the salad nicoise was excellent, as was the sashimi.
Our ham pizza had a perfectly crisp base and still felt light, and our seafood pasta was beautifully prepared. There are also local Maldivian curries and soup on the menu but I asked Chef John what was the most popular dish – Ceasar Salad and the Club Sandwich he replied. That’s the thing about being on holiday – sometimes you do just want that comforting taste of home.
But what ever you do – you must order the ice cream!! My dad has a thing about ice cream and hates it when restaurants only serve chocolate, vanilla and strawberry so I had to send him a copy of the extensive list served at Gili. Probably the most ice cream and sorbet flavours I’ve ever seen including options such as red wine, avocado, green tea and honey. At the bottom of the extensive list it even said ‘additional flavours are available. There’s every topping that you can think of too!
By night, the Over Water Bar turns into a super chic dinner venue. A soft pink purple glow fell over the island and Mr S and I headed there for sunset drinks.
The Jetty on the Over Water Bar is the perfect place to go for sunset drinks, honestly did you ever see a sky so pink?
We chose one of those gorgeous hammocks to enjoy our cocktails whilst watching the sun go down.
The Over Water Bar plays host to different themed nights inspired by street food markets such as Asian, the very popular Fisherman’s Grill or the Passage Through India that we tried.
There’s a choice of Gili Lankanfushi’s sumptuous signature salads, as well as live cooking stations and perhaps the best naan bread I’ve ever had, prepared right in front of me.
There’s a whole host of authentic Indian desserts or you can do as we did and opt for one of the restaurant’s special sorbet cocktails.
Another option for dinner is heading back to the Main Restaurant for an à la carte menu of Michelin quality. It’s the most fine dining option on the island and incredibly romantic, definitely a venue to save for a super special meal.
Unfortunately romantic lighting doesn’t lend itself to great photography but the food was truly sensational! I love my crab salad starter and Mr S went for the gnocchi on Chef John’s recommendation – it’s his favourite dish on the menu and I can certainly see why!
The menu is an East meets West fusion so there’s sure to be something for everyone. I loved my tuna steak, which had just the right amount of pink on the inside. And Mr S was a huge fan of the incredible shell fish on the island – everything was so fresh it was like tasting the sea!
Finally is the By The Sea Japanese-fusion restaurant which we absolutely loved! I was also super impressed that there were so many diverse dining choice on such a small island and everything was of the utmost quality. The restaurant is only open in the evenings but I took a few pictures during the day so I could show you properly.
The restaurant is located in the beachside forest, very close to the water’s edge and standing on stilts with gorgeous views out to the ocean.
The dining room is incredibly intimate and there’s room for only 26 guests. There’s the choice of the main dining room, sitting comfortably in these sunken booths.
Or there’s a semi-private room at the end where we sat at the sushi counter to watch everything prepared right in front of us.
There’s the choice of a tasting menu of tuna or there’s a large selection on the à la carte menu. Regular readers will now how much Mr S and I love Asian food especially Japanese, so we went ahead and ordered a selection of our favourites.
A beautifully dressed avocado salad.
Tuna tartare and avocado, made even better than usual owing to the quality of the tuna.
A superb sashimi platter.
And the sushi of course, made by the sushi chef who hails from Vietnam. Seriously we’ve eaten Japanese food all over the world (including Japan) and this was some of the best I’d ever had.
For the main course we moved to one of the cosy booths…
For lobster cooked to perfection.
Lamb chops for Mr S.
And some incredible desserts!
Now, there’s one more foodie space at Gili Lankanfushi that I’m just dying to tell you about but I’m aware that this post is already far too long – so I’ll just leave that one for my next post. I think it’s easy to see why I loved the food at Gili Lankanfushi. From start to finish everything was delicious and fresh as can be!
Watch aa video of my time at Gili Lankanfushi!!
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Our stay at Gili Lankanfushi was complimentary on a full board basis