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balter being built

If you have been to Christiansted recently you have undoubtedly seen the construction taking place at the intersection of Company Street and Queen Cross Street. Here, in the heart of historic downtown Christiansted, an original 250 year old building is being restored and converted into the island's most anticipated new restaurant - balter. As a collaboration between award-winning chef Digby Stridiron and award-winning sommelier Patrick Kralik, balter is in a promising position to live up to the hype it is already generating.

Scheduled to open in early April, with a possible soft opening at the end of March, balter plans to focus both it's food and beverage menus around fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Staying true to his Crucian roots, Chef Digby Stridiron is crafting menus that will offer creatively composed contemporary West Indian dishes utilizing old-fashioned techniques. If you are not familiar with Chef Digby, he was born on St. Croix and is the “Culinary Ambassador of the US Virgin Islands.” He makes a point to establish sustainable working relationships with the local farmers because growing up here on the island increased his awareness of the importance of locally sourcing ingredients whenever possible. Chef Digby is an official member of the Slow Food Movement and the James Beard Foundation, and he hopes that balter will make St. Croix a culinary travel destination here in the Caribbean. 

balter Chef Digby Stridiron & Sommelier Patrick Kralik

balter Co-Owners: Executive Chef Digby Stridiron & General Manager/Sommelier Patrick Kralik

When it comes to using local ingredients, it's not just about the food at balter. The bars (yes, there will be two!) will offer a "Farm to Glass" program which will utilize locally sourced, unique island ingredients in house-made craft cocktails. In fact, balter will even be bottling some of their house-made cocktails for retail purchase. With sommelier Patrick Kralik designing the bar menu, you can also expect an exquisite wine list. In fact, balter will feature varietal specific glassware and a Cruvinet system (a temperature controlled system keeps wines as fresh as the moment they are uncorked for up to six weeks) which will allow for a nice menu of wines by the glass, or by the ounce. As Patrick told me when pointing out the benefits of the Cruvinet system: "We can have very expensive wines that guests can taste by the ounce. I mean how often do you get to try a $1000 bottle of wine?"

Building the balter Kitchen & Dining Room

Building of the balter kitchen, dining room and indoor bar, including the Danish brick oven

As for the restaurant itself, balter is designed to offer both elegant indoor seating, as well as beautiful courtyard seating. The indoor and outdoor areas will each have their own bar, as well as different menus. Inside, the dining room will offer the more upscale dining experience, and will also house a retail space where guests can purchase balter's homemade ready-to-cook pastas, chutneys and sauces. For those who wish to dine alfresco, the courtyard area will be surrounded by balter's onsite gardens, and will house a stage for live music and a community table. The balter building has been designed to keep the facade and building structure in it's original Danish style, but has been repainted and is being renovated with all modern conveniences inside. The design also incorporates some of the original building materials into the renovated space, as well as adding native and locally made accessories and details wherever possible including beautiful mahogany beams, a Danish brick oven, and custom plates handmade by Don Schnell of St. John.

balter Restaurant Sample Dish

I don't know about you, but my mouth waters at the mere thought of enjoying one of Chef Digby's creations paired with one of Patrick's unique craft cocktails. Currently, balter is slated to be open Tuesdays - Saturdays for dinner from 6pm - 10pm, with the bar being open from 4pm - 11pm; and, Sundays for brunch from 11am - 4pm, with the bar open until 6pm. Stayed tuned to for updates on the opening of this unique new restaurant. In the meantime, you can see a sample menu for balter, learn more about the balter family, and follow the progress of their building on their website at:

- Jennie Ogden, Editor




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