The Most Unique Restaurant Dishes and Cocktails in the Cayman Islands

There are only a few qualities that separate a good restaurant from a great restaurant and naturally set the tone for an extravagant dining experience: excellence, ambiance and exclusivity. We’re acclaiming these restaurants for setting the standard of dining in the Cayman Islands, whether for you that equates to white-clothed table linens, formally-trained chefs, time-honoured dishes, creative interpretations of the classics or simply ordering something you can’t get elsewhere.

The Pre-Dinner Mélange

Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is redefining luxury and fine dining with its beach-house-meets-globetrotter interior design and approach to cuisine and everyday experiences. It’s no surprise then that some of the most inspired and imaginative cocktails are created behind the bar at Anchor & Den, an open-concept restaurant and bar centrally located in the resort’s lobby. Locally-sourced herbs and farm-fresh fruit are key players in both the signature shareable plates and cocktails at Anchor & Den.

The Belle Grande transforms a traditional Caribbean cocktail, sorrel, by combining the fruit’s nectar with pomegranate, kiwi puree, lemon, blackberry and a citrus-infused vodka. Bourbon and limoncello are blended with apricot jam and home-grown sage and served as the Prohibition, whilst the Howick Hall nods to the Cayman Islands’ underlying British ruling with its Earl Grey-infused gin, yellow chartreuse, honeyed cardamom and floral bitters.

Sip, Savour and Swirl the Perfect Glass

In the wine room at the stately Grand Old House, the perfect bottle of merlot has been stowed for nearly three decades and, this year, has reached its prime age. The 1990 Chateau Petrus is velvety in mouthfeel, an opulent plum in colour and is rich in mulberry, black cherry and toast flavours. Chateau Petrus is found on an estate in Pomerol in the southwest of France and is especially known for its unparalleled superiority owing to the vineyard’s location, 40 metres above sea level, which is the highest geographical region grapes may be grown in France. The grapes are allowed to ripen perfectly before they are harvested by hand and allowed to ferment gently.

Savour this and other exceptional wines — such as the 1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild and the 2012 Screaming Eagle cabernet from Napa Valley, USA — whilst taking a visual journey through the charm and history of the great house or over dinner as the sun burns the sea at twilight.

A Taste of the Forbidden Fish

What Vivo lacks in traditional fine dining details — white-gloved service, tuxedo-wearing wait-staff and fine bone china — it more than makes up for in ambience, locally-sourced and organic ingredients and inimitable vegan and vegetarian interpretations of classic dishes, all of which are hallmarks of the modern fine dining experience. Whilst other restaurants are serving their take on globally-inspired exotics — imported bone marrow with crostini, elegant escargot simmered in rich butter and herbs and even kangaroo and sage bangers, for instance — Vivo is making one exception to the plant-based diet rule and focusing its attention on the majestic, but supremely invasive, lionfish found right here in Grand Cayman.

Lionfish is conventionally viewed as a forbidden fish; its fan of sharp spines are poisonous and the fish is inedible until they are removed. As a result, certification is required to safely hunt and prepare lionfish, and Vivo is one of only a handful of restaurants to brave this food taboo. Prepared several ways on both the lunch and dinner menu, diners may expand their palate of the bizarre by savouring this delicacy as a fish cake, curry stew, Asian-style fillet and even a lionfish burger.

World-Class Wagyu Beef

Long before the Caribbean became synonymous with stretches of white-sand beaches, startling blue seas and swaying palm trees, many of the islands were inhabited by primitive Arawak aboriginals whose native tongue was Taíno. YARA — the name of Seven Mile Beach’s newest restaurant — is a literal translation of “place” in Taíno, and was used to describe the gathering space where Arawak communities would meet to eat and celebrate; the yara was often regarded as a sacred space brimming with mystery and intrigue.

Already living up to its native name, YARA is a global steakhouse heavily influenced by Nikkei cooking practices, the art of merging traditional Japanese dishes and techniques with the ethnic ingredients of Peru and Brazil. And whilst the grapevine is buzzing with chatter of just about every dish on the menu, the wagyu steak is by far the chef’s choice for the elite epicurean.

Wagyu beef presents with more marbling due to the higher number of intra-muscular fat cells — a prerequisite for Japanese cattle used in agriculture — leading to a more tender meat and the highest sensory experience when consuming steak. The seven-ounce prime cut is perfectly spiced with YARA’s signature steak seasoning, a choice of over 10 carefully selected sides and your choosing of enhancements — such as scotch bonnet butter — and glazes like umami bacon sauce, wasabi hollandaise or a black truffle emulsion.

Ending on a Sweet Note

There is only one restaurant in Grand Cayman that can proudly claim its dessert is so famous a road wears its name like a badge of honour. If that is not enough of a reason to bestow Calypso Grill’s sticky toffee pudding as the most decadent dessert in Grand Cayman, perhaps the 400+ individual Trip Advisor reviews that specifically praise Chef George Fowler’s take on this very British dessert will; or the fact that the restaurant easily serves over a thousand plates of pudding on a monthly basis; or that celebs like Sir Richard Branson, chef Eric Ripert, Cheryl Crow and President Bill Clinton have all shamelessly indulged in this cake.

What separates Calypso Grill’s sticky toffee pudding from its competitors is the lightness and moistness of the date cake itself, which then sits in a bath of warm toffee sauce and vanilla custard and is blissfully paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Spooning this sweet treat into your mouth feels like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night — it is comforting and cosy.

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