When John Harvey, of the Bristol Cream family, built Fourways in 1727, his Bermuda home quickly gained a reputation for extravagant dinner parties, after which guests were welcome to spend the night rather than brave a long ride back to town by horse and carriage. While, 270 years hence, you are more likely to arrive by car or motor scooter, none of the Old World hospitality or indulgence has been lost in the house's conversion from walled garden estate to inn and cottages.
When you enter, greeted by a stately grandfather clock and maître d' clad in the local uniform of Bermuda shorts, blazer with necktie, and knee socks, your own mood will be easily transported to a more civil time. From the look of the photos that line the entrance hall, many notables (George Bush, Richard Nixon, Tony Curtis and a host of distinguished Britishers included) have enjoyed the same sublime sense of decompression. The effect only intensifies as you move into the dining room, a half-timbered hall of cedar and coral stone, with great stone archways, where the scent of island flowers and the tinkle of piano keys mingle. Diners can also choose to eat outside on the hedged terrace.
But a tropical-colony atmosphere alone does not a great restaurant make. What puts Fourways into its own realm on this island is, of course, not on the walls but the menu. One can only hope that those early settlers might have dined so well on Mr. Harvey's largesse. The meal starts with a selection of breads that are so well thought of that the management opened a separate location in Hamilton, called The Pastry Shop, to sell its baked wares. Chef Stephen Young creates a bill of fare of French dishes with an eye toward including the local ocean bounty. A crab and salmon ravioli appetizer ($16.95) is a meal in itself and arrives as one huge tart, about four by four inches, stuffed with meat flavored in basil and shallot cream. While the escallop of veal in lemon-lime butter sauce ($38.25) is the dish for which Fourways is best known, the house also likes to trumpet an addition of vegetarian meals and in general lighter foods (read: salads and fish). A couple favoring an occlusion diet, however, may prefer to order the Chateau Briand ($84) and be left alone with their beef and a tureen of béarnaise sauce.
If ocean islands are doomed to making do with shortages of the finer things, you wouldn't know it by the wine selection here. Sommelier Daniele Cremonini keeps 9,000 bottles in 375 selections in the semiterrato cellar that has received the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. The list is particularly strong in Bordeauxs, with some wines dating back to the turn of the century. In all, there are probably two dozen selections priced between $1,000 and $3,500, but the restaurant also introduces many New World selections for those whose budgets are limited to the $30 to $50 range. Fourways has also instituted special wine evenings for regular clientele.
Though travelers don't face the same transportation limitations that used to cause guests to bunk in at Fourways, you can still stay over in one of the 11 cottage apartments. The Paget property is in an inland area once called Amen Corner for the church that stood here. Fourways takes its name from the entrances facing north, east, west and south that graced the original estate.
Even if you're not staying, you can repair after supper to the redoubtable Peg Leg Bar or the more genteel Long Room for drinks, tea, or coffee and cigars. Despite erratic availability of Havana cigars, the humidor usually has three or four selections of Cohibas and Montecristos, as well as something from Hoyo de Monterrey, Punch and Romeo y Julieta, according to the manager, Gerry Ivers. Davidoffs fill out the non-Cuban side of the menu. While Bermuda isn't known for inexpensive cigars (or anything else economical for that matter), Fourways keeps prices (approximately $8 to $55) fairly close to those eight miles away at Hamilton's retail outlets. As you relax, Siglo III in hand, by the colonial fireplace of the Long Room, with its paintings of clipper ships, this may be the only thought that connects you with the modern world outside the walls of Fourways.
No. 1 Middle Road
Phone (809)236-6517; Fax (809)236-5528
Dinner About $90 per person, without wine