Restaurants shook things up in 2009

Grand Cayman saw a bevy of new restaurants to dine at in 2009.

The new and the improved

From entirely new establishments, such as Osetra Bay in Morgan’s Harbour opening in November and Café del Sol adding another branch to its roster, filling a space in the former Fort Street Market location in June, to former restaurants re-branding themselves, there was no excuse for residents’ taste buds to become bored.

Café Mediterraneo re-opened just last month as Agua, while Little Tokyo Mongolian Grill did a 360º turn to re-open in September as Carlos and Martin’s Tex-Mex Cantina. The Post, known for its popular southern Italian cooking classes which continued to be sponsored by What’s Hot magazine, re-opened in October as Dolce Vita.

More offerings

Luca restaurant in Caribbean Club started the year out by adding a Sunday brunch to its offerings in January, and in November the Ritz-Carlton’s 7 restaurant provided an addition to its popular Sunday brunch with a champagne breakfast on Saturdays, meaning people can brunch the whole weekend long.

Mezza introduced a tapas menu in May after hiring a new chef, all the way from France, who dove in feet first, revitalising some parts of the menu while keeping the restaurant’s classic favourites.

Culinary education

The Lighthouse relaunched its cooking classes led by its executive chef Remy Azavedo, at first offering the lessons to the general public on Saturdays but soon expanding, offering some free school classes for both primary and high school students.

Fun food fundraisers

The restaurant also launched an event in September that is sure to become annual, called the Celebrity Chef Cook-Off, which involved local celebrities such as Barefoot Man and the Governor cooking their favourite meals as a fundraiser for the Cayman Islands Humane Society.

A new fun event for foodies popped up at the end of January with Big Brothers Big Sisters hosting their first Soup-er Bowl fundraiser at the Marriott Beach Resort. A number of restaurants across Grand Cayman were represented and attendees sampled soups and voted for their favourites. Bacchus restaurant’s roasted pumpkin soup came out on top. The event was so popular that the organisation has scheduled for a rematch to take place in February 2010.

Gastronomic events

The farmer’s market, Market at the Grounds, turned two years old in August and became a regular at Camana Bay from April, with quarterly appearances as an Evening Market, including a specially-themed Christmas market.

The international phenomenon of dining in the dark came to Grand Cayman with Bacchus restaurant hosting the dms-sponsored Blind: Dining in the Dark in April. Several courses are served by waiters wearing night goggles. Night goggles are not given to diners, who instead eat all food given to them in the dark, so that other senses, such as taste and smell, are heightened. The event has occurred on a regular basis since it was first launched, and is almost always a sell-out.

The Marriott Beach Resort took the fun outside with a Texan-style beach barbecue in May.

Cayman Cookout

The Cayman Cookout in January, which was a huge success, welcomed international chefs such as Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and Michael Laiskonis. The Visual Arts Society joined in the fun with an Art for the Palate exhibit, featuring food-themed works, to complement the event. In July it was announced that January will be dubbed Culinary Month, and the next Culinary Month looks to be just as big of a success, as the event is already selling fast for January 2010. An impressive roster of culinary experts set to return: both Mr. Ripert and Mr. Bourdain will reprise their roles in the event.

Competitive streak

The Chili Cook-Off at the Reef Resort in July sent one lucky team to the World Chili Cook-Off in Las Vegas in September.

Meanwhile, beverages were not forgotten on the competition front. Westin bartender Khi Leonard blew the competition away not only at the local semi-finals but also in London at a global bartending competition known as the ‘Liquid Oscars’. Mr. Leonard walked away from the global finals with second place overall and a winner in the classic cocktail challenge.