A new restaurant on Seven Mile Beach will feature green iguana on the menu at its signature dish.
The restaurant, called Iguana Have Some Fun, will also offer Cayman chickens, agouti and “other potential road kill”.
Restaurant owner Newt Lizzi said he got the idea when he heard a Mexican radio ad for barbecued iguana.
“I went to the restaurant and gave it a try and it was quite tasty,” he said. “I figured with all the green iguanas running around on Grand Cayman these days, why not? I might be on a wavelength far from home, but I think I can make this work.” Lizzi said the restaurant would prepare iguana several ways, including barbecued, it’s signature dish.
“We’ll also offer iguana burgers, iguana stew, iguana fritters and Buffalo-style deep fried iguana fingers,” he said. “You’ll be able to get the iguana fingers with three different kinds of sauces: teriyaki, hot and ‘road kill suicide hot’.
As for the taste of iguana, Lizzi said people would be surprised.
“Actually, it tastes a lot like chicken,” he said. “And it has a similar texture, especially when it’s deep fried.”
The restaurant will also have a dish featuring Cayman hens – Cayman Chicken Fricassee.
“It’s taken a while to develop this recipe,” Lizzi said. “Cayman chickens are rather tough and you really need to slow cook them to get them tender. Also, the meat is a little gamier than chicken you buy in the grocery store, so the scotch bonnet cream sauce of the fricassee helps compensate for that. It’s actually quite good.”
The agouti will be served as the “classic Cayman stew” over rice and beans, with a side of plantain. As for the “other potential road kill” that might appear on the menu, Lizzi said they wouldn’t be permanent fixtures on the menu. “In the summertime, land crab will definitely be one of the specials,” he said. “From time to time we might see things like goat, snapping turtle and even snake on the menu.” The restaurant will serve other food as well.
“Our paradise cheeseburger rocks, our wings will fly out of the restaurant and we’ll also do jumbo dogs,” he said, clarifying that they won’t be the local kind. “I’m also working on a ‘Road kill pizza, which will be topped with green iguana pepperoni, agouti sausage and Cayman Chicken balls.”
Lizzi said the restaurant won’t forget about its health conscious patrons. “We’ll also offer wraps, salads and homemade fruit yoghurt for those on a diet,” he said. “But the truth is, iguana is very lean meat and perfect for those counting calories.“
In addition, Iguana Have Some Fun will offer merchandise. “T-shirts, caps, mugs and other souvenir items are a key part of our business model,” Lizzi said. “We will give visitors a unique taste of Cayman and we know they’ll want to tell the story when they get home. What better way to do that than with a T-shirt?”
The restaurant, which Lizzi will operate with his wife Thinn, is scheduled to open in June. “I really wanted to open April 1st, but only fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” he said. “Plus, I’m having trouble figuring out how to catch these iguanas and Cayman chickens. They run really fast, you know.”
Department of Environmental Health Officer Hardy Harhar said the new restaurant would be examined very carefully.
“You can’t just start killing wild animals and serving them to the public,” he said. “These things have to be done delicately and there are rules. For instance, you aren’t allowed to announce plans for this kind of restaurant on April 1st if you expect people to take you seriously.”