Restaurant Place Setting
Grand Cayman Island, a British Overseas Territory, is the largest of three islands in a low-lying chain in the central Caribbean
. Grand Cayman has a tropical climate and beautiful beaches
protected by coral reefs, The economy depends primarily on tourism. A severe hurricane in 2004 devastated the island and destroyed many popular restaurants; some of these never re-opened. While tourism has revived (as of Spring 2010), restaurant closings continue; call to confirm.
A West Bay Old Favorite
The Cracked Conch is a moderately expensive seafood restaurant with a popular patio area. Rebuilt after Hurricane Ivan, this large West Bay restaurant also offers booths, several bar areas (some with DJ's) and a once-weekly specially-priced barbeque. It can get noisy. Lunch (as of Spring, 2010) served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., except Sunday. The bar stays open until 1 a.m.
Northwest Point Road
West Bay, Grand Cayman, BWI
Another Favorite, on the South Side of the Island
The Lighthouse, on the south side of the island, offers a fun, inoffensively kitchy take on a real lighthouse, with staff in sailor garb, great views and moderately expensive seafood dishes. Visitors who like it (a majority) commend the consistent preparation (Ref: caribbean-on-line.com/dining reviews); less enthusiastic diners find the Caribbean/Italian food a little generic, a criticism also voiced about Cracked Conch. The restaurant offers cooking classes Friday evenings and Saturday beginning at noon, seasonal menus and a gift shop. The restaurant is open daily, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Breakers Ocean Side
Bodden Town, Grand Cayman, BWI
Grand Old House
Grand Old House survived the hurricane, and serves excellent local seafood prepared according to traditional Caribbean recipes. Diners may dine in the air-conditioned main house, on an ample veranda, or in individual gazebos. Local jazz musicians perform several nights each week. Lunch hours vary by time of year (call for further information); dinner service daily from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Grand Old House
648 S. Church Street
Petra Plantation, Grand Cayman Island, BWI
Celebrity Chef Opens Blue
Eric Ripert, host of television's Celebrity Chef, and executive chef at NYC's famed Le Bernardin, has taken on The Ritz-Carlson's flagship Caribbean restaurant, Blue, with mixed results. Beautifully and luxuriously appointed, and with rave reviews from restaurant critics, the restaurant has also gotten its share of disappointed and even critical responses from diners who found the service uneven and the food inconsistently prepared, according to Fodors.com. But only a very few restaurants at this high level of intended execution exist on the island; although very expensive, it seems worth a try. It's the only AAA five-star on the island. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Seven Mile beach,
Grand Cayman Island, BWI
At the other end of the spectrum, the Calypso Grill looks like a fish shack, but serves locals a well-prepared and varied cuisine in a colorfully informal and relaxed Caribbean waterside setting. As with many Grand Cayman restaurants, menu choices reflect the eclectic population of the island: a little bit of Italian, a little bit of Cuban, some "international", and authentic Caribbean preparations of fresh fish. Open daily except Monday; lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinners from 6 p.m. Closing time depends upon the crowd.
West Bay, Grand Cayman Island, BWI
A "Secret" Restaurant--That Might Not Exist
Chef Roland of Roland's Garden has created a restaurant so special and so off the beaten path that it may no longer even exist. Years ago chef Roland Schoefer opened the now somewhat touristy Lighthouse Restaurant, and left when it achieved success. He later opened several more admired Grand Cayman restaurants--and always left when they became popular. He finally opened a restaurant with no building (he cooks outside; you eat under an umbrella) no advertising, no address other than "Cottage," Frank Sound, and a couple of phone numbers--one disconnected, the other working, but unanswered. Perhaps it became too popular and he's moved on, or perhaps he's just not answering the phone. Locals will know the latest on this ongoing saga of a good cook who apparently doesn't like the restaurant business. Islanders rave about his cooking and his uniquely anti-commercial stance. If you can find it, there's no menu, no set hours and you should bring your own wine or other alcohol. You pay whatever you'd like, cash only, in a pot by the entrance gate.
Frank Sound, Grand Cayman Island, BWI
Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and co-manages a small stock investment fund.
place setting image by Nicola Gavin from Fotolia.com