The West Bay Diner, open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., is the latest eatery to make its home in the district of the same name. The small and homey diner, owned and managed by Danny Lamarca, offers a no-frills, no-fuss menu, featuring nine options for all-day breakfast, fresh local delicacies and traditional diner staples.
Soup of the day, poutine and West Bay fries make up half of the starter choices, and salad selections have been pared down to the most popular two, with seven types of hot or cold sandwiches available.
Dinner specialties have also been trimmed down to fish and chips and fresh catch (served Cayman style, blackened, steamed, pan fried or grilled). Daily specials include chicken curry, fish curry, chicken stir fry, 8-ounce steak dinner and local catch fish.
On the West Bay Road just past the four-way stop, the West Bay Diner has been open six weeks and has already gained a loyal following among residents, particularly when it comes to its take-out service. With on-the-go snacks, lunch and dinner, the diner seats 34 guests indoors and 10 outside for those who want to catch some rays while enjoying their meal.
True, the diner is not looking to compete with the island’s fine-dining establishments in terms of elaborate decor and artistic food; rather, it aims to fill a gap in the market for budget-priced meals, which offer hearty portions and great taste.
Lamarca has always worked in the restaurant trade, and he managed several local restaurants before deciding to dive in and set up his own.
With starters, entrees and desserts to appeal to all tastes, this reviewer and her family plumped for two shared appetizers, namely nachos and quesadillas. For mains, everyone suited themselves with one daughter choosing a stack of pancakes, the eldest opting for a Caesar salad, the youngest wanting a bacon, lettuce and tomato (BLT) sandwich, while my husband and I ordered the 8-ounce steak with fresh garden vegetables and the Caribbean chicken curry.
Pleased with the hearty portions making their way to us, courtesy of Chef “Papa” Joe, the nachos and quesadilla did not disappoint. The crispy and satisfyingly crunchy nachos, topped with a mountain of cheese and onions plus a zesty salsa and sour cream on the side were soon wolfed down. As huge nacho fans, this plateful was one of the best we’ve tasted locally. The chicken quesadillas, loaded with plenty of cheese, peppers, onions and chicken pieces and accompanied by a serving of French fries were also well-received, tempting us to stop just shy of ordering another helping as our main courses were on their way.
The Caesar salad, though an easy fix, is so often underwhelming. The West Bay Diner’s version, however, lived up to its royal title and was a huge bowl full of crunchy Romaine leaves, heaps of freshly grated Parmesan and a generous dousing of dressing. Accompanied by two lightly toasted rounds of French bread, it was marvelous. Mopping up the last traces of the tasty dressing from the bowl, we were all beginning to see a theme at work there: big portions at low prices (heck – even the steak meal came in at just under $17).
The BLT didn’t skimp on the bacon and was subsequently polished off down to the last satisfying crumb. The pancakes ordered as a nod to the all-day breakfast menu were light and fluffy – no complaints there.
Then on to the real test: my 8-ounce flat iron steak – served medium rare. I was a little skeptical at first, as this cut – known elsewhere as an oyster blade or butler’s steak – is a cheaper cut than its more expensive and better known counterparts. Like most steak, it can be tricky to cook nicely – all the more so since it also has a reputation of being highly tasty but sometimes a bit tough. My steak was thick, succulent and very flavorful. Little wonder that a lot of chefs are wising up to the potential of this particular cut when prepared properly. For those who like sirloin, Lamarca said they usually keep that in too.
We also all agreed that the Caribbean chicken curry was pretty good, which means the entire meal was a success.
Too full for dessert, like cassava and rum cake, we headed off for home happy and sated.
For further menu details and daily specials, visit the West Bay Diner Facebook page.