So much can be said about the identity of Sails Restaurant and its owners. The first point to note is not difficult to guess, sailing has played a significant role in their lives.
Seiuli Ian and Lyvia Black managed hotels and restaurants in Fiji but Samoa was always at the back of their minds. So when they had children, they made the move.
“We wanted to bring them home to grow up here in Samoa. So we came back and dropped anchor,” explained Lyvia Black.
The name Sails was an obvious choice and the restaurant opened in 1996 where Robert Louis Stevenson originally lived.
In December 2007, the restaurant moved to its current location in Mulinu’u.
This venue was custom-designed and built by the couple. It is clearly inspired by sailing. The bar is the shape of a boat, the decking leads out like the bow, flags swim in the wind and even the roof of the fale curves like billowing sails.
Looking out from your meal the ocean sits placidly just metres away, looking up, sails hang inside the fale.
Back in 1996 when the restaurant initially opened, there were not really any other restaurants around and local products were heavily underutilised.
“The food scene at the time was quite untapped,” Lyvia said. “We really started dipping into utilising the local produce. I know it sounds cliché now because everyone is pulling it out but back in ninety-six it was quite unusual. I think we were the first one to bring in the banana crumble. We brought in the Koko Samoa sauce with the double chocolate cake.
“There was no openness to using the local products at the time. It was breaking new ground trying to introduce new tastebuds, taste sensations.”
However, now many cafes and restaurants pride themselves on making the most of local produce. This is greatly welcomed by Lyvia who has loved seeing this development in Samoa.
“It’s wonderful to see the growth of the local cuisine becoming more accepted. It’s wonderful for us to see. That’s the most pleasing part, is to see how a lot of restaurants now are quite tuned in to the local products, buying from the markets and buying from our boats.”
Another emphasis of the owners is on up-skilling and qualifying their staff. This is essential in “developing staff to understand international standards.”
Lyvia was eager to see what is best for their staff and this training assists them further their careers internationally.
“When they’ve done their time in a certain place they really need to keep moving, new kitchens, go out and try the world, go out and try new kitchens. They need to expand their horizons, different kitchens different owners and chefs. Expand their depth of experience.”
This emphasis on professional development carries over to the fiafia dancers which train at Sails and perform on Friday nights.
“This was another means of employment for some of them. The hope is for us is to get in more work for them, private functions and bookings. Our end target is to have a core group that can work for some of the spots overseas, get them some contracts. It’s a mean of employing young people.”
For Valentine’s Day there will be a three-course menu with a steak and lobster special available.
“It’s going to be a wholesome meal, it’s not too quaint, not too dainty; wholesome fresh Manono lobster.”
Special cocktails will also be available for selection. For the romantics a vibrant red ‘Wicked Lovers Slush,’ and for those who are not fans of the day a fantastic antithesis of this cocktail is available- the blue ‘Anti Valentine’s Crush’.
Next week a new finger food menu will be launched featuring a range of expertly crafted canapé foods.
The Cucumber role of feta cheese and blue cheese with carrot, tomato and parsley, is a delicious vegetarian option and has a balanced and pleasing flavour combination. This masterfully assembled trio is served atop deep purple leaves, effectively contrasting the colours of the roles.
Others include the Mini rare beef on a medallion of eggplant with dried tomatoes and cream cheese and the Sushi with Tuna Slice with Julienne vegetables. These two dishes are also artfully assembled.
For a fantastic fine dining experience on the waterfront, drop by Sails Restaurant for lunch or dinner on Monday to Saturday from midday until late. They are also open for dinner on Sunday from 5pm.
To contact Sails Restaurant for information, reservations or catering ring 7520628 or 20628. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org