Picture in your mind a classic gondola ride with an opera-warbling operator.
A serene ride in a water taxi as your pilot bellows out O Sole Mio.
At lunch dine on sumptuous Tuna Carpaccio with basil oil or Spaghetti with Duck Breast and Radicchio. Top it off with Venetian Cherry Compote and your imaginary trip to Venice is complete.
But while you may have to travel to Venice to experience the opera-warbling gondola operator or the talented water taxi operator, you don’t have to go far to tantalize your taste buds with delicious Venetian fare.
The above menu is on offer this Sunday at the Lighthouse Restaurant at Breakers.
Each Sunday Guiseppe Gatta, or Captain G as he’s known, and his crew at the Lighthouse Restaurant take diners to a different venue around the world. Last week the menu offered a taste of India.
It’s Captain G’s way of welcoming back his customers after more than a year of cleaning up the Hurricane Ivan-ravaged restaurant.
When Hurricane Ivan unleashed its fury on Grand Cayman in September 2004 waves taller than the power pole that sits on the street outside the Lighthouse relentlessly slammed into the restaurant.
What Captain G saw before him when he was finally able to make it to Breakers made him stop and rethink his lifelong dream of running a restaurant. He’d been at the helm of the Lighthouse for more than 12 years and what he saw before him was destruction. He questioned whether the eatery could ever be reborn.
Waves had eaten into and taken away parts of the car park. The deck, a favourite spot for diners, had been completely washed away. The wall along the patio had caved in and the two feet of water in the Lighthouse was just enough to ruin all of the appliances and most of the furniture.
The future looked bleak.
But faithful patrons and friends urged Captain G. and co-owner Nik van den Bok to accept the challenge and rebuild.
The process wasn’t easy and ‘soon come’ became Captain G’s pat answer when queried about the restaurant’s reopening.
Soon come came Saturday, 22 October, when the Lighthouse Restaurant finally re-opened its doors to the faithful and the new.
‘It’s been fantastic,’ said Captain G. ‘We’ve had a really great response from the locals, tourists and folks from Morritt’s, the Reef, Rum Point, George Town and even Seven Mile Beach.’
Captain G. and staff opened the Lighthouse the Friday before the real opening to friends, partners and family for a soft opening to make sure the Saturday event would go smoothly.
And smoothly it did go.
Many patrons found comfort in the new bar and lounge area where they sat and sipped while waiting for dinner.
Many have taken the opportunity to dine in the new area.
Those who frequented the Lighthouse pre-Ivan will be pleasantly surprised by the feeling of openness to the revamped restaurant.
Diners on their way to the dining patio can catch of glimpse of Chef Remy whipping up his specialities. He cooks and performs in the special Chef’s Kitchen, which is open and accessible to visitors.
‘Ono of the most exciting innovations that we have been able to install has been a show kitchen whereby part of the kitchen is open to the public via a glass window,’ said Captain G.
The special kitchen allows staff to see their customers and vice versa.
The dining patio feels larger.
‘It has been more aerated and provides a much more open feeling,’ he said.
The patio can hold 86 diners comfortably.
Captain G’s Port Room, which once housed a wide and interesting display of wines and ports, has been enlarged to offer seating to 18 diners.
Diners will find menu prices are the same as pre-Ivan, but the menu has been updated and expanded to offer a delicious array of fare featuring seafood and Italian dishes.
Those who fall in love with the Lighthouse atmosphere can take a bit of it home by making a purchase in the Lighthouse gift shop.
‘In the gift shop we sell everything related to lighthouses,’ Captain G. said.
On offer are original plates, tableware, jewellery, Christmas decorations and more.
The Lighthouse is open for lunch from 11.30-3.30 daily and from 5.30-10pm daily for dinner, seven days a week.
The Lighthouse still provides catering and specializes in private parties, especially Christmas parties.