- hipquest Feb 3, 2008 11:37 AM
There is not a lot of info on Grand Cayman so I thought I would share some quick thoughts on our recent visit. Part of our trip was company sponsored (I'll mark those events w/ CS) and we stayed a few extra days. We stayed at the Westin Causarina Resort, great place if you want an ocean view room (as opposed to the Ritz where those rooms/condos are only available to owners.)
1/23-Welcome reception, catered by the Westin-Very nice spread, conch chowder, raw bar with steamed shrimp, mussels and oysters on the half, snapper, chicken, veggies, beef casserole (actually more of a stew), plantains too name a few plus a dessert spread and a bonfire on the beach for smores. Quite good considering they were feeding 200 people. CS
1/24-Dine Around-we had a choice of 6 restaurants and chose The Wharf, we had a limited menu to choose from-Turtle Soup, very good; salad-as advertised and good, Filet and shrimp-pretty good. The service was excellent as was the setting. We checked out the regular menu and decided we might come back again. CS
1/25-Awards dinner-Food was ok. I do not recommend a sit down dinner for 200. CS
1/26-Deckers (based on opinions from those who went for the Dine Around)-WOW! I had lobster rolls(think spring roll) very good, Curry Pumpkin Soup-yum, Pork Tenderloin w/Gnocchi in a pesto cream sauce-excellent! We were all sampling from each other and everything was very good.
1/27-The Wharf-My trio of crab app was great, my husband loved the lobster bisque while our 2 dining companions hated it-this bisque is done in a very traditional way as opposed to most in the US. My steak was very good, my husbands turtle steak was underwhelming , but he had to try it. He said it tasted a lot like overcooked beef. Again service was very good.
1/28-Our own dine around-Eats (where we had breakfast nearly every day) what a deal and great food! Then into the rental car to explore. Lunch at Rum Point, a beach bar-type place, sandwiches-mine Jerk Pork and husbands some sort of fish he liked. Nice service and a great place to people watch. Snack (driving and riding is hungry work) The Lighthouse-we arrived just as they were opening and got THE best table, all alone right on the ocean. Bread, Conch chowder, a caeser salad to share and classic shrimp cocktail, all very good and excellent service. Onto dinner at Fisherman's Reef, another WOW! My husband's mussels app prompted him to say "If that's the best thing I eat here then I'm happy." Then he received his stuffed Caribbean Lobster. (We are now the proud adoptive parents of this recipe and will soon be having a dinner party. :) ) Excellent service and the chef/owner is a charmer.
1/29- One final breakfast at Eats and we have to fly home. If you visit Grand Cayman and would like a snack for the plane have it prepared by your hotel or a place like Eats, the snack bar (there's only one) sandwiches are way overpriced and AWFUL . However, the liquor is cheap.
Things to keep in mind, a lot of food is very salty (maybe something to do with the climate), the people are, for the most part, very friendly. Be nice and they will treat you very well. If going to The Wharf ask for Erich, at Eats ask for Katherine, at The Westin-pool or beach side request ViVi.
We can't wait to return to Grand Cayman.
Perhaps I over simplified, we needed 100+ rooms that had to have a view. Also, we checked out the Ritz and were informed if we were not owners or part of their time share program they could not guarantee us an ocean view room but if one was available on our arrival it would not be a problem.
You can certainly reserve and be guaranteed ocean front rooms at the Ritz and I have done so -- but I agree that it's not likely to get 100 of them available.
Also, the restaurants at the Ritz are excellent. One of them (Blue) is affiliated with Le Bernardin, one of the top restaurants in NYC and has terrific seafood. Their steakhouse, 7 Prime, is quite good. The Wharf is fine for a casual waterside meal. I even have a hat from there. It’s a large, pretty impersonal place. The Calypso Grill is better with the same waterside ambience. Pappagallo's is excellent for Italian.
I am staying at the Westin and was biting into my Tortuga Rum Cake (which is part of the evening complimentary finger foods and drinks at the hotel) when I read the name tag of the server, "Vivi." My memory immediately jogged back to this post and I told Vivi about this review. She was incredibly sweet. After my friends and I had already had quite a few rum cakes and some free rum drinks, I bombarded her again right before she was about to close up and asked her for one more rum drink. She smiled and gave me my rum drink and two more for my companions who were sitting in the lobby. I would recommend her to anyone who wants a warm and thoughtful server.
As for the food. I am fortunate enough to have a friend in the area whose kitchen we use. In Georgetown there is a fresh fish market. This is a unique experience for anyone who likes mingling with interesting local people. The fisherman go out to see the night before they sell it and catch fish ranging from red snapper, yellow-tail snapper, mango snapper (or butterfish) to strawberry grouper, jacks, porgys, and barracuda. They sell the fish in the morning/early afternoon and it is right across from the Waterfront Center where the Dairy Queen is. The men are friendly and are characters. The locals love red snapper and barracuda; it is there candy. I have cooked quite a fish already and they have all been delicious, tender, and moist.
I would give the Lighthouse a 19 if I were to Zagat rate it. We had three cocktails and the mojito was watery at first and when we sent it back for a new one, the second was bitter. Apparently, the best mojito on the island is by the Dive Center in a tiny shopping mall where in the center of the parking lot they roll Cuban cigars. This is on 7 mile beach closest to Georgetown between the Marriot and Ritz. Back to the Lighthouse, we had three appetizers. The conch soup, the garlic bread, and the thai shrimp crab cake. The garlic bread was good. The conch soup was not amazing. My boyfriend was prompted to say that it tasted like Campbell's condensed tomato soup. It was like a Manhattan chowder with the tomato base. The soup had a kick to it and the conch was good. The thai shrimp crab cakes were tasty and it had some fruit on top. The two entrees were a pasta and a fish. The fish was a mahi mahi and it had a nice spice to it and was filleted. The pasta dish I believe was called La Mare di Monti. The spelling is probably wrong but it had shrimp, clams, and wild mushrooms. That was also good with a nice flavor. However, I don't know if I would pay that much for just "good" food if I was in New York. The table was by itself jutting out over the water. It was very picturesque. We had the cardamom creme brulee but that was like any other one.
For good native Caymanian food I am told that Vivien's and Roland's Garden are the best. They both cook out of their backyards. Vivien's is supposed to have the best conch soup on the island. It also has breathtaking views. Roland's Garden is interesting because it is a German man who only takes reservations. It is not really a restaurant so there is no menu. When you call you have to tell him whether or not your allergic to anything.
The Tortuga Rum Factory near the airport has rum and rum cake tastings. These are very good.
Over the Edge was underwhelming, avoid it.
We had a great meal pool/beach side at 7 Prime. Excellent service and a nice location, but it was expensive. Two people, one bottle of red, no dessert was over $200CI. I'd go back though. For an additional fee you can reserve a beach cabana for your meal with dedicated servers.
Also had good meals at Hammerheads, Rackhams, Papagallo, Coconut Joe's, Deckers, and a local Jerk Chicken place in Bodden Town - Tony's. 1/2 chicken with rice and beans for $5CI.