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Grand Cayman Dining

s
sibeats Dec 23, 2009 04:54 AM

We will be in Grand Cayman for 6 nights...haven't found a whole lot of info other than on Grand Cayman web sites about restaurants, reviews, etc.
So I made dinner reservations at: Hemingways, Blue, The Brasserie, Luca, Reef Grill and Agua. We are looking for delicious food in a nice setting. Do you think these fit the bill? Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations other than these places? Thanks for any help!

  1. s
    sibeats Jan 8, 2010 06:41 PM

    Here's my report from our trip. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Hemingways for dinner - nice atmosphere, we sat outside. Started with caesar salad, BBQ turtle, duck spring roll, mussels. Entrees were paella, braised lobster w/ lemongrass sauce and garlic mashed potatoes, pork tenderloin with fried sweet potatoes, chicken w/ chipotle sauce and peruvian potato cake….dessert mango sorbet w/ strawberry ice cream, key lime pie, sticky toffee pudding….desserts were the best part, other than that, nothing special, food was okay.

    Reef Grill for dinner - beautiful setting, we went up to the 2nd floor overlooking the water, and were seated against the back so we couldn't see the water…asked to sit at one of the tables in the front, were told they were all reserved, and then sat there all night looking at all the empty tables with the beautiful view. Annoying to say the least. Apps were tuna spring roll, soft shell crab "maki" roll (very good), fried calamari and caesar salad. Everything was cooked very well. Entrees grilled tuna steak w/ sticky rice and bok choy in a cucumber vinaigrette which I really liked, ribeye w/ fries..meh…gnocchi w/ red pepper sauce and herbed ricotta, scallops w/ lobster mashed potatoes…tuna was the best in my opinion. Desserts lemon bar w/ strawberry ice cream, chocolate mousse cake (not very good) profiteroles w/ ice cream and chocolate sauce very tasty. Nice setting, decent food, did a good job with the fish, other items seemed a little haphazard.

    Cracked Conch for lunch…a very nice surprise. We were at the turtle farm, walked over for lunch with low expectations. Sat on the deck overlooking the water, very beautiful spot…menu choices seemed basic but the executions were really really good. I had a "vegetarian" sandwich…it was thick cut grilled bread with roasted tomatoes, brie, thinly sliced marinated fennel, avocado and a perfectly poached egg on top…it was delicious. We also had the tuna nicoise salad, nicely rare seared tuna with another perfectly poached egg, fingerling potatoes, haricot vert and a really nice chopped tomato vinaigrette. We also had the burger and a caesar salad, I didn't try either, but they looked good. Also they brought a basket of some kind of bread…it almost seemed like fried bread or something…little torpedoes warm with butter…yum…we wanted to take a basket home for breakfast!

    The Brasserie for dinner…beautiful room…weird location…empty restaurant…only 2 other tables occupied all night. Interesting menu, lots of small plates to share. We had the cheese fondue, devils on horseback, argentinian BBQ, tuna ceviche and prosciutto manchego flatbread. Flatbread was pretty meh, nothing special. Fondue was good…served with german pretzels and whole grain mustard, but nowhere near enough pretzel to sop up all the cheese. Devils on horseback were delicious, as was the tuna ceviche in a coconut milk broth. Argentinian BBQ was 4 pieces of toast, each with some grilled steak and sausage with a little bell pepper dice on top…tasty but a little salty for me. Entrees were very nicely plated, but very heavy on the meat choices. Only one fish, one pasta. I had tuna with papaya slaw, breadfruit salad and haricot verts. Everything was very good…tuna was a little overcooked (I asked for it rare). We also had the open face burger which was okay…the lamb shank which we didn't like…it was very gamey and fatty…and the beef duo - filet and short rib with asparagus and potato galette. The potato was delicious, meat was okay. The entrees looked way better than they tasted…I think if I were to go back, I might just order more small plates and salads to share and skip the entrees. Desserts were okay…lime tart was good…chocolate cake a little bland.

    Luca for dinner. Had high expectations, was disappointed. Another beautiful room. Sat outside. Waiter was a little weird. Big menu, lots of options. We started with the beef carpaccio, pear and stilton napoleon, hazelnut crusted taleggio and a salad. Everything was okay, decently prepared, seasoned well, tasty. Problem was that the apps came out alarmingly fast…like within 4 minutes of ordering…weird…but okay, no big deal. Then we waited about 45 minutes for the entrees. That was way too long. Then we tasted them….meh. I had the striped bass special…the fish was cooked well, interesting bread crust, nice brown lobster sauce, roasted peppers were good…a little pile of way oversalted microgreens on top and slices of "confit potatoes" on the bottom that were beautifully brown and crunchy because they were completely undercooked. After waiting that long, you'd think the potatoes would at least be cooked through. We also had the tuna…it was served with spinach, grapefruit, and calamata olives which totally didn't go with the grapefruit…and it was cold. Not good at all. The other 2 entrees were pastas…the lobster ravioli and the pumpkin ravioli…both were pretty bad…the lobster tasted like chopped up claw meat, dried out, no flavor, a little gritty. The pumpkin ravioli was just terrible…it tasted like paste. So, we declined dessert and got the heck out of there, very disappointed.

    Blue for dinner. Only 2 of us went, but we each had a different tasting menu so we could try 12 different dishes. I had the "Blue" menu, hubby had the "Eric Ripert" menu. Started off with an amuse of hamachi in a dashi broth with a yuzu foam. It was good but some component was overly fishy…not sure which one. 1st courses were trio of conch ceviches and a red snapper sashimi. Both very good. 2nd courses were a lobster carpaccio with hearts of palm salad and shrimp a la plancha with a frisee, raisin, fried chickpea salad, both delicious. 3rd courses were both poached white fishes…one halibut, the other maybe mahi mahi (can't remember). Both in light broths with simple vegetable garnishes…halibut was a little dry. 4th courses were a red snapper with a plantain puree in a red broth and a cobia with really interesting citrus and sunflower flavors…the cobia was both of our favorites. 5th courses were a seared tuna with celery root puree, iberico ham and some microgreens in a beef broth sauce and the other was swordfish with picholine olives. We thought both were oversalted…I liked the tuna better, but had trouble eating either of them because of the salt. Last course was dessert…a chocolate mousse cake with caramelized bananas and then a mango white chocolate cheesecake. Both good. The atmosphere was very nice and the service top notch, but in no way does this compare to Le Bernadin. Most refined food of the trip, but maybe lacking a little local "flavor".

    Agua (not Aqua!!) for dinner. This place has only been open 5 weeks, seems to have a Peruvian feel running through it. Lots of ceviches and tiraditos. Food was very good. Service started out very good but kind of fizzled as the night wore on and the place filled up. For starters we had the chicken satay, the peruvian causas (potato dumplings), a sampler of 3 ceviches and the scallop tiradito, which we thought was the best of the bunch. The ceviches were okay, flavors were good but the fish was very unevenly cut in too large pieces. Since I got the sampler, I had one spoon of each, which wasn't enough to get a sense of all the ingredients in the different preparations. For entrees we had the grilled lobster with mashed potatoes, the osso bucco, the wasabi tuna with potato croquette and the red snapper. All were very good, the tuna was a beautiful piece, perfectly cooked. Desserts were okay, nothing great.

    Other than that we had breakfast at Eats twice...good classic diner fare, tasty eggs and pancakes.

    Great trip, good food!!

    5 Replies
    1. re: sibeats
      capeanne Jan 8, 2010 06:49 PM

      Thanks for reporting back and you sampled alot of places! We will try Aqua next trip.Tx

      1. re: capeanne
        s
        sibeats Jan 9, 2010 04:49 AM

        Just make sure it's Agua, not Aqua...two different places!!

      2. re: sibeats
        d
        dreif Jan 17, 2010 04:01 PM

        Thanks. We're going back over next Christmas and will use your recommendations. My wife also had the swordfish at Blue and she, too, found it a little salty. So it"s an intentional preparation choice, not just an accidental overseason.

        Where are Agua and Hemingways?. We stay at the Marriott on Southern end of 7 Mile Beach.

        If you go back, definitely try Cimboco for breakfast and, if you have a car or don't mind a cab ride, Calypso Grill.

        Thanks for the insights

        1. re: dreif
          s
          sibeats Jan 18, 2010 09:13 AM

          Hemingways is at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites, very pretty spot. Agua is right down the road, across the street in one of the strip malls. Has a pretty outdoor patio, but not on the water. Both are pretty close to the Marriott.
          http://www.agua.ky/

          1. re: sibeats
            h
            HaveSpoonWillCook Nov 13, 2012 09:53 AM

            Just been to Hemingways for lunch. Lets put it this way: You go there because its on the beach and has a nice ambience, not for the food.
            The lunch menu was given a fancy write-up in local magazine "Whats Hot" in July 2012 ("Making lunch a special occasion") but the writeup bore no resemblance whatsoever to what we saw on the menu and on our plates. This was a mediocre and pricey lunch, and to add insult to injury, 15% gratuity was added to the tab for halfhearted service.
            Pretty spot. Just have your lunch elsewhere!

      3. d
        dreif Jan 2, 2010 04:55 PM

        Just came back from a week in Grand Cayman. Recommendations and comments;

        Calypso Grill - very good meal; high energy (noisy) room (was raining so we didn't get to sit on the porch); had snapper with a somewhat spicy mango sauce - excellent; best sticky toffee pudding we had on the island. Highly recommend it. Caution, though. If you're staying on Seven Mile Beach and don't have a car, get ready for a $30 US cab ride each direction. One of our best meals

        Blue - a real culinary experience, from decor of the room through service to food (although waiter twice served my wife's bread from the right, reaching across). You walk in and the server has your name when he/she approaches the table. Terrific amuse bouche of a tiny terrine of crab, with a layer of avocado, topped by a sweet potato foam. My main course was cobia, a fish I hadn't tried before (not quite as firm as sword, good solid fish taste) , with an asparagus (I think) puree underneath and a lemon vinegre. Great combination of sweet and acidic flavors. Appetizer was a pork belly with a spicy jerk. Delicious, but you have to like pork belly as this was definitely the classic combination of fat and pork. Apparently Ripart sends a team down monthly to do quality control and Chef was the sous for a couple years at Bernardin, so this is not the Wolfgang Puck "Sure, want to use my name, here's the charge" thing. We've eaten in a lot of places and this will be one of the meals that my wife and I kick around when the topic comes up of "where'd you have your best meal."

        Eats - a place opposite the Westin that is pumped for breakfast was okay. (It's basically a luncheonette). Nothing special. A good breakfast place, but not worth going out of your way. Cimboco, see below, was a lot better. .

        A hidden jewel is Cimboco - which is in a little mall behind the gas station across from the Marriott - sorry about the directions (can't remember the name) and the location really isn't the awful thing I make it sound. Serves breakfast through dinner in a really pretty, bright airy room. Not fancy at all, but with great food. I had an omelet with a spicy salsa that was terrific. Dinner was one of our best - service is friendly. Dessert (yes there is a theme here) was a chocolate pie that was essentially creme de pot on a crust - incredible. I had mahi mahi (a Caribbean regular) that was absolutely fresh, delicately sauced and one of the best things I ate on the island. They make all their own breads. This is a place that you shouldn't miss.

        If you ask any of the cabbies where to get real Caymanian food, you may hear Myrtles. I wouldn't bother and would ask elsewhere. It's a local bar with turtle soup and stew, a not particularly good (really bland) set of jerk dishes. There's a lunch buffet that may be better, but I'd skip it next time through. (By the way, if turtle steak tastes like the turtle in turtle soup, it's a pretty hideous combination of fat and gristle. To quote the server at the Wharf, see below, "Don't. It will ruin your evening.")

        The Wharf on Seven Mile Beach is pretty good. It's a fairly standard beach seafood place, but service is good and food is good, not excellent, but certainly fresh, well prepared and very good value. I'm a black bean soup junkie and theirs is one of the best.

        Final recommendation - if you are staying at the Marriott have the mahi mahi wrap for lunch (preferably while sitting on the beach). Whatever they spice it with is delicious and the fish (yes, all five times that I had it) is very, very fresh.

        Enjoy Grand Cayman and please post any more recommendations. We're going back next Christmas. Happy New Year's to all.

        1. ddavis Dec 23, 2009 12:11 PM

          I can't believe no one has suggested Lighthouse. Has it closed? If not, go.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ddavis
            capeanne Dec 23, 2009 12:42 PM

            Still open but last 2 or 3 tries it had declined and certainly was a pale remembrance of the days of Roland..although the setting is indeed magnificent.

            1. re: capeanne
              h
              HaveSpoonWillCook Oct 12, 2012 09:17 AM

              Agree. Casual dining.

          2. capeanne Dec 23, 2009 07:29 AM

            Was there for a week last month Had a not so good meal at Brasserie , we were a larger party ( 8) and my beef entree was served stone cold and service very slow . Neither Brasserie nor Aqua ( which I havent been to) are on the water in fact Brasserie is tucked away in the middle of Georgetown and Aqua is in one of the strip malls. For water view/ beach setting; Luca ( high end elegant with Italian influence) and Reef Grille ( usually good grilled fish) are consistent and good food and I would consider the additions of Calypso Grill (varied menu , good fish , amazing setting if you can reserve on deck) , Morgans Harbor ( next door to Calypso but more limited menu, and much more casual vibe) , Ostera Bay ( brand new , on the other side of Calypso but ultra chic, kinda "it " place vibe with food that varied from very good to ok and quite pricey). I had a surprisingly good meal at Pappagallo this year ( Italian located on lagoon ) If you are looking for less expensive Morgans Harbor fits that bill with water location . Eduardos for very good red sauce and Ragazzi for pizza as long as water view isnt important...I am not a fan of the Wharf which is like a factory to me and everyone should eat at Grand Old House once on a trip to Cayman...it is a classic with generally very good food and again amazing outdoor on the water setting...have a blast. I 've gone 1-2 times a year for past 25 years and like it so much we got married there!!! let me know of you need more

            4 Replies
            1. re: capeanne
              s
              sibeats Dec 23, 2009 10:43 AM

              Thanks for the response. I had looked at Calypso and the Grand Old House a few times...kind of feel like we should go to the Grand Old House as you say....but the menu looked a little stodgy...but I'll look again!
              Had not heard of Ostera Bay and will look into that one as well.
              We've never been to Grand Cayman before and are looking forward to it. Love to hear any other tips in general!

              1. re: sibeats
                capeanne Dec 23, 2009 10:51 AM

                Are you staying at Hotel or condo..if condo, Fosters is for food shopping ( right on main drag) and I think best liquor prices are at Big Daddy's You can get NOTHING food or liquor wise on Sunday ( except minimal staples at gas stations) ..Love lunch at Morgans Harbor and at Ragazzi...GOH is a stodgy and frozen in time menu ( its menu and that of Calypso havent changed in recent or distant memory ) but there are good selections on both and its just an experience you should have ..

                1. re: capeanne
                  s
                  sibeats Dec 25, 2009 10:45 AM

                  Staying at the Beach Suites...hopefully it will be nice. Thanks for the info on liquor stores, we are arriving on a saturday afternoon, so will be sure to stock up before sunday! I assume the dress is casual even at Blue? No jackets required for men? I hope!! Been checking out more of the places you mentioned...thanks again!

                  1. re: sibeats
                    capeanne Dec 25, 2009 10:50 AM

                    so casual it is siily No jacket but if u choose GOH Luca Blu Heminways and Ostera long pants for gents is highly recommended Other spots shorts r ok..I have stayed at Beach Suites fka the Hyatt suites pre Ivan and yes they are fine and especially centrally located..have a great time

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