Tucked away in a small passage in Gustavia, Fish Corner’s reputation nevertheless allows residents and visitors to track it down. This unique restaurant offers the true taste of St Barts’ marine life, which is not surprising given that its founder and owner Johnny Laplace is a former fisherman.
What was the inspiration for Fish Corner?
I worked as a fisherman for over 1O years and always dreamed of working in the restaurant business, particularly when selling fish to the top restaurants here on the island. After becoming a husband then father, I found it difficult to dedicate time to my young family whilst working as a fisherman. It was thus fortuitous, just after Irma, to be offered the space where Fish Corner is now. My goal was to do something different, so a restaurant featuring new and unusual varieties of fish seemed the obvious choice. We like to surprise our clients with fish that they cannot find elsewhere on St Barts, such as trigger fish – a great favourite at Fish Corner.
Can you tell us how your life began and evolved?
I am from St Barts and feel like a true Caribbean. I love island life, the music, the people, the natural environment and of course the marine world. I left the island for my studies and, on returning, I worked in construction for a short period. However, my path led me to the sea and I began working full-time as a fisherman. Like all my colleagues, I practised line fishing out of respect for the fish population and the underwater environment. I enjoyed being close to nature where I felt a great sense of freedom.
Who are the Fish Corner team?
I am the owner of the restaurant and I have a great chef duo, Guillaume Lafrance and Thomas Lézé, with whom there is a constant exchange of thoughts and ideas. I also have a manager Alaïs Cardot and barman Tédi Magnan, who are both diligent workers with a special client rapport. I prefer staff who are going to stay with me for a long time, rather than seasonal workers. We are like one big family sharing a love of the island.
Can you tell us about your menu?
When I first started the restaurant, I would give my chefs a variety of fish and suggest recipes based on local family cuisine. The chefs then began to propose their own ideas, so together we started to experiment and try new ways of preparing traditional dishes. Our aim is to offer our clients a creative unique and flavoursome menu. Our specials are spontaneous, depending on what has been caught that day. The menu is forever evolving to keep it interesting; and, whenever possible, our fish is accompanied by Caribbean fruits and vegetables such as plantain, mango, pomegranate, avocado and sweet potato. Our pina colada is made with local pineapple and coconut; and, as a digestive, we offer clients local rum from Martinique, Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante.
What is special about your fish?
First and foremost is the freshness of our fish; everything we offer has been caught that morning. Our supply comes from the local St Barts fishermen who are mainly friends, cousins or ex-colleagues from my fisherman days. I know exactly what to ask for based on my knowledge of St Barts’ waters.
Can you tell us more about the restaurant?
Our clientele is a mix of tourists and residents of all ages and backgrounds. We are open six days a week from 12pm to 3pm and have approximately 40 covers with two sittings. We used to be open in the evening, but it is difficult to organise two teams of staff for a small restaurant. We make an exception during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year. We have also recently introduced ‘Fish Corner at Home’, a villa catering service that comes with a chef and waiter. We additionally work with DeliFood offering a takeaway service, which has proved to be popular.
What do you like to do in your downtime on St Barts?
I don’t have a lot of free time, but I do enjoy spending Sundays with my wife and son. My family share my love of the sea, be it boating or at the beach.
Is there anything specific you would like to say to the readers of Coccoloba?
Fish Corner looks forward to welcoming Coccoloba readers to the restaurant where they will have an authentic island experience, savouring local fish that has been caught and prepared with genuine passion for St Barts.