Sunshine Grill – hard to beat

It may be somewhat off the beaten path, and small-scale, but that does not stop the Sunshine Grill from being a highly popular eatery both inside and outside of the competition ring.

In fact, The Sunshine Grill, the restaurant at Sunshine Suites off West Bay Road, won first place two years in a row for their fish tacos, in the Taster’s Choice Award for Best Cuisine at the Taste of Cayman in 2003 and 2004.

In the past couple of years, 2006 and 2007, the restaurant has remained consistent in the prize winners, coming in second place last year for its Jamaican chophouse tacos and this year for its Appleton smoked ribs.

It also won Best Burger in this year’s Best of Cayman awards.

Not bad for a little restaurant competing against all the major hotels and restaurants on the island. And it’s sure-fire proof that you don’t need the best location or the most elaborate cuisine to offer a top notch restaurant experience to people.

Somehow the little Sunshine Grill that no-one knew about a few years go continues to bring in the awards and the diners, simply because the food and service is good.

Restaurant Manager Mike Dill puts the success in the competition down to doing a familiar item, but with a twist, and, of course, doing it well.

‘We do the food and service and all the things a successful restaurant does well,’ he said, pointing out that the restaurant does not even have a prime location. It is somewhat hidden in behind Cayman Falls plaza.

Mr. Dill also noted that the restaurant is known as being good value, or as he puts it, ‘giving a good bang for the buck’ and at Taste of Cayman the portions presented were also very generous.

Lunch main courses hover around the $10 mark and dinner entrée specials are at $16.95.

The restaurant opened back in 2002 but was closed for nine months from September 2004 following damage sustained in Hurricane Ivan.

Mr. Dill, who has been at the helm for the past three years, and came up with nearly all the dishes on the menu, described how to make each of the delicious award-winning offerings.

The Jamaican Chophouse tacos, he explained, are made using a big flank steak, infused with Criolla with vinegar and herbs. Having been boiled up in this mix the meat is then shredded and served with onions, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes, a little jerk seasoning, blue cheese dressing and served with warm tortillas.

The fish tacos consist of fresh mahi cooked on the griddle with olive oil, basting sauce and spices. After the mahi is cooked down, then it is served in tortillas with shredded cabbage, red chilli sauce, guacamole, green onions and Havarti (Danish) cheese.

The Appleton smoked ribs are prepared in Criolla mix and covered and cooked until really tender. They are finished on the grill with a rum-based barbecue sauce.

The juicy, tender ribs are featured at the Thursday night Caribbean poolside barbecue, where, for $19.95 it is all you can eat with pool music from a different local band each week. This special night has been ongoing year-round for the past five years or so. From 6 to 9pm, there is a wide range of mouth watering meats, fish, salads, vegetables and desserts in the tranquil tropical setting.

Then on Fridays from 4 to 7pm there is a special happy hour where parents can sit and relax with each other over dinner and drinks while their children are entertained by a face painter, pool games and prizes. All drinks are $3.50 for the happy hour and there is a special kids’ menu for $5.95 including drinks.

This is a relatively new venture at the restaurant and it is proving very popular with professional families, where kids can meet other kids and parents can mingle together.

‘We really are a local bar and restaurant,’ said Mr. Dill, who added that it is strange to say that as the bar and restaurant is part of a hotel. But 75 per cent of their dinner business is local, he said, and about 95 per cent is local at lunchtime.

And next year their entry in the Taste of Cayman will be Havana Chicken. Sunshine Grill chef Pedro Acosta previously worked at Il Ajibe restaurant in Havana where the famous recipe for the dish comes from.

Featured on the dinner menu at Sunshine Grill, it consists of a half chicken marinated in sour orange, garlic, lime and rich olive oil, roasted crisp.

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