Just like with the accommodation and activities on offer, Velaa Private Island takes food to another level of luxury in The Maldives. Think Michelin-standard cuisine, stunning locations and impeccable service…
Let’s start with Aragu Restaurant and Cru Lounge, the hotel’s signature restaurant and fine dining experience.
For starters the restaurant’s location is simply perfect. Hovering directly above the lagoon, you’ll be surrounded by endless Indian Ocean and one of the most romantic destinations that I can think of. The restaurant is only open in the evenings but the decor is so gorgeous that I had to pop there during the day to get some photos to show you.
Dining is incredibly romantic and private as couples can enjoy their own jetty with only the sound of the ocean to interrupt them.
Inside is also gorgeous as flying fish hang from the ceiling of the Cru Champagne Bar and Lounge. We were incredibly excited to eat at Aragu and chose our first night to try the very special cuisine there.
In the evening, the interior of Aragu glows with light and the flying fish sculptures are even more dramatic. You can start with a glass of champagne at the Cru Bar or head straight across the jetty for your romantic meal.
Now at our first hotel Gili Lankanfushi, casual attire and a barefoot policy was encouraged at all meals but at Velaa the restaurants have a more elegant dress code. It was jeans and smart shirt for Mr S and a floaty dress for me – just another example of how different these resorts were and they work really well as a combination.
The kitchen at Aragu is overseen by executive head chef Adeline Grattard who has worked at two Michelin Star Bo Innovation in Hong Kong and Astrance in Paris. She won her own star at the age of 32 for Yan Cha in Paris. Though the Michelin-inspector doesn’t come to The Maldives, this restaurant would easily be the recipient of a star for it’s gourmet European food. Crab salad starter for Mr S and sashimi for me to kick off were the perfect choices.
We loved the seafood main courses here too with grilled fish for Mr S and prawns for me – I’ve already mentioned how incredible Maldivian seafood is! I will say that though I was impressed with the quality, portions were tiny and I didn’t think great value for money. But coming to Velaa and The Maldives in general is all about treating yourself and you do need to expect high prices for the atmosphere and levels of service too.
After our wonderful meal we settled into the Cru bar for a last drink and to the mellow sounds of the piano player, the perfect way to end a night!!
Athiri is the island’s most casual restaurant, located right on the beach and where we had our breakfast every day!
You can grab a table by the pool right on the sand…
Or in the water!
Though even if there weather’s bad (which it was one day sob!) you can still dine with your feet in the sand even inside the restaurant!
Beautiful vibrant colours and comfy cushions characterise this space and the views to the ocean are spectacular! I’m told you even sometimes see dolphins go past your eyes in the morning.
Breakfast can be chosen from an extensive buffet, packed high with mountains of fruit…
And plenty of fresh bakery items, salads and juices.
Or you can order from the à la carte menu. Personally I cannot start the day in a tropical location without my beloved mango, so a heap of fruit and good steaming coffee were on the cards for me every morning.
We had lunch at Athiri twice and the menu is casual yet very refined…
Beautifully prepared sushi and seafood dim sum made fantastic light starters.
And this whole seabass with grilled vegetables was probably one of my favourite dishes our whole time in The Maldives.
Another day it was a deep glass of wine, a bowl of mussels, seafood pasta and a ham and egg pizza that hit the spot. Ice cream was also a daily occurence and though at Velaa there isn’t quite as much variety as Gili Lankanfushi, it is all excellent quality.
Athiri is the only one of the hotel’s three restaurants that’s open all day and one evening we returned for dinner to try fresh summer rolls, the very best Maldivian tuna as well as a spicy beef curry.
The final restaurant on Velaa Private Island is the almighty Tavaru, which at 37 feet high is the tallest restaurant in The Maldives. You can climb the stairs to the top of the Asian-fusion restaurant… but you’re on holiday and that seems like a lot of effort, so fortunately there’s also a lift. Either way you’ll be treated to incredible views from the top.
Waving palm trees and the boardwalk of villas can be viewed from the window.
Tavaru isn’t open every day but when it is you can pop there both for lunch and dinner.
It’s a very small restaurant with a Teppanyaki kitchen, so service is personal and food is prepared with the utmost care. For lunch the menu is divided into raw or earthy for starters…
Kicking of with delicious avocado sushi canapes…
My starter was Maldivian sardine with quinoa, a really delicious dish and such a light and healthy start.
Yuzu infused reef fish ceviche with pineapple, avocado and mustard micro cress was Mr S’s fresh and sunny starter. As you can see presentation was gorgeous and the taste was every bit as good as some of favourite Japanese restaurants.
There are fish or meat options for main course, prepared with a bit of theatre right in front of you…which you can see more fully in video on my new YouTube channel.
I loved the way that the chef also fashioned the egg-fried rice into a heart!
And we enjoyed the show whilst sipping on our miso soup and enjoying a seaweed salad.
My salmon was utterly faultless and Mr S loved his prawns, both presented with perfectly al dente vegetables.
Desserts were amazing too and I enjoyed mango and passion fruit maki with raspberry and soya sauce sorbet. A clever dessert version of a sushi roll.
Mr S loved his pineapple dessert with blueberry sorbet and both were refreshingly light palate cleansers.
There’s something very special underneath Tavaru too and once we descended the tower via the lift we had the chance to get a sneak peak! The wine cellar at Velaa Private Island contains the largest champagne and wine selection in The Maldives. There are more than 500 bins was a vast selection including rare and vintage wines to sample and the room itself is rather gorgeous too!
We loved the food at Tavaru and returned that night for dinner which was a set tasting menu – again costs are high but this really unavoidable at Velaa. We kicked off with soy glazed salmon aburi nigiri, the fish was seared to perfection but it was a little heavy on the rice.
Fragrant betel leaves with aged beef, fermented anchovy and dried tomato essence.
And mixed sashimi including yellow fin tuna and reef fish was beautifully presented in a bowl of ice.
You could just taste the incredible quality of the wagyu beef gyoza with teriyaki truffle sauce.
We got another chance to see the chefs at work over dinner.
And in this beautiful intimate space, Mr S and I were the only couple dining which made it feel even more special and romantic.
Next on the set menu was an exploration of flavour and texture and we loved the vegetable and cuttlefish tempura with a sweet sauce.
Five spiced quail with freshly cooked baby spinach with tamarind sauce and confit of bell pepper came next.
Followed by Presa Iberica cooked on the teppanyaki grill and served with pineapple dressing for me.
And salt marsh lamb with peach and kimchi dressing for Mr S.
Everything served at Tavaru is light and refreshing including the desserts and we loved the finale of saute pineapple with cheese cream, lime couli and jasmine ice cream. Along with some Japanese bon bons!
As you can see for a small island there was plenty of variety and quality was always at the top level!
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