Art Mel's Spicy Dicy
$, Fish Sandwich and†Bermudian
The Restaurant and Ambience
The original eatery (a small one) is located in the residential neighborhood in Pembroke (in outskirts of Hamilton city). It's named after its owner Arthur ('Art') Smith. It takes some effort to find the place.
This place is known to serve the best fried fish sandwich in Bermuda, some even go a step forward to bet that it serves the best fish sandwich in the world. And that too quite cheap. Well when you look at the price, you may not initially think it's very cheap but reasonably priced. However when you end up sharing one between two of you and get quite full eating just half, then you realize that it actually turns out to be quite cheap.
Photo: Peter Burka, flickr, cc by-sa 2.0
Located on a small hilltop neighborhood, while scooter would be most convenient to reach, you can also walk down (about 1.5 miles from Hamilton ferry terminal), though be warned the walk is mostly uphill, or take a bus from Hamilton bus terminal (refer to my section below on 'How to reach' to get full details on reaching Art Mel's).
This is a take-out place and there is no seating place to eat. And you are not supposed to eat standing inside either. You need to place your order, wait, take your order and move on. We took our order and sat alongside the water at the Ducking Stool Park
. It was a great experience!
The moment you enter the place you realize that you are in a typical local eatery. The menu posted on the walls isnít extensive, but thatís not a concern as tourists and locals alike come here for one reason only ó to get their famous fish sandwich! Almost everybody you will see and meet there are locals waiting to collect their orders. And then the order will come nicely wrapped in foils. Now what can you expect inside the foils?
First I would recommend that you order the fish sandwich with toasted raisin bread. Although soft wheat bread and gingerbread flavoured with fresh ginger and molasses are also available, the sweetness of the raisins actually add†to the taste of the sandwich.
Art Mel's Fish Sandwich in raisin bread
It is moist and tender and the fish crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. They make their own breads here. Coleslaw adds nice crunch and tang. The home-made hot sauce is exceptional too. However, if you are not very fond of spicy food, opt to take the hot sauce on the side as it is indeed hot.
They mostly use fresh snapper, fry it with flour in soy bean oil along with their secret mix, and serve it with tartar sauce and colesaw.... as you bite deep into the sandwich you can feel that its already melting in the mouth. The fish is lightly breaded so you get the full flavor of the fresh fish. It is scrumptious, succulent and piled high.
However ask if the fish is fresh, or otherwise half the fun may be lost. They sometime use imported fish as well which too tastes good though. But knowing what you are having adds to the fun. After all you came here to eat the best fish sandwich in the island.
And the sandwiches are really huge, and I mean that. It's not possible to bite into the full cross-section of the sandwich in one go. You can easily share a sandwich between two of you.
Like to mention here that although Art Mels has earned a huge reputation for its fish sandwich, it offers several other items in their menu which too are quite good. The menu includes items such as soups and†salads, burgers, fish cakes, peas and†rice (a typical Bermudian dish), macaroni and†cheese, full or half fries topped with onion n cheese, sweet potato fries if you like them savory, kids' meals, homemade desserts, ice creams, sherbets etc.
The staff is excellent that works hard to make the delicious food here. The owners are quite friendly and service is courteous and fair.
They do not accept credit cards, so carry cash on you. Call ahead and place your order as this will save you a lot of waiting time.
So, all the hype around the legendary fish sandwich at Art Melís, is actually true! Art Melís is known to have set the standard for the Bermudian Fish Sandwich for many years now. Fresh, flaky and flavored just right, the portion size is huge. So make sure to build up an appetite before you get introduced to this local staple. Pair it with coleslaw, sauce, pick up a cool lemonade or ginger beer and head to some place nice in town to enjoy a hearty meal. It is definitely one of the best and cheapest meals in town.
Update April 2016
Arthur Smith, the owner of Art Mel's has recently passed away. His family now runs the two outlets. Arthur mentioned last year that he never believed in any kind of promotion. They never had a signboard for the first 17 years of running the original outlet in St. Monica's (in the outskirts of Hamilton). Although people complained about the location being not easy to reach, they still came in volumes. Art Mel's won the Best of Bermuda Award 15 times. The fish sandwich using raisin bread became so famous that a well known food blog even mentioned that it was "the best fried fish sandwich on Earth".
Art Mel's at St. George
The second eatery of Art Mels has come up in St. George's in 2013 which is managed by the owner himself. His son now manages the original eatery in Pembroke (Hamilton). And the one in St. George serves the same delicious fish sandwich. And here they have a small patio at the backside with limited seating arrangement.
Fish Sandwich: $11.50
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 am to 10pm, Saturday 12noon to 8pm.
How to reach Art Mel's at Hamilton
Art Mel's is located at the outskirts of Hamilton, near the North Shore road in a place called St. Monica's. Despite many complaints on remoteness, Arthur (the original owner) never changed the location. But tourists and locals kept pouring in for the fish sandwich.... a true example of how quality and taste can reign over barriers of hardships.
From Hamilton Ferry Terminal (Front Street), you can walk to Art Mel's. Takes about 25 minutes (1.5 miles). Take Cedar Avenue, then continue along Marsh Folly Road and then turn into St. Monica's Road.
To get there by bus, walk down to Hamilton Bus Terminal (7-8 minutes from Ferry Terminal on Front Street). Take bus#5. Ask the driver to drop you near Art Mel's (i.e. at the crossing of Glebe Road and St. Monica's Road, 6-7 minutes by bus). It's only a few steps from there. While returning, take a bus back from the bus stop at Glebe Road.
Address and Contact Info
Art Mels Spicy and†Dicy
At Hamilton (original outlet): 9 St. Monica's Road, Pembroke. Phone: 441/295-3965
At St. George: Water Street.
Share your experience.