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Grand Cayman: Great dining compliments small but impressive golf scene

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Grand Cayman may be a small Caribbean island, but it packs a big punch. Not only does it boast great golf courses, but excellent dining can also be found in the restaurants at resorts such as the Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt Regency.

Grand Cayman - Sunset
Most Grand Cayman restaurants have outside dining areas with great views.
Grand Cayman - SunsetGrand Cayman - Hemingway'sGrand Cayman - Turtle

GRAND CAYMAN - For such a small island, Grand Cayman sure has a mess of good food.

The biggest island in the three-island chain is only four miles wide and 22 miles long, but it has a plethora of restaurants, both for tourists and locals.

If you want to rough it and eat like a local, you'll try johnnycakes, ackee and saltfish, which are popular on any number of Caribbean islands, and pepperpot, a spicy dish made from callaloo, potatoes, various spices and hot peppers.

The island doesn't have as much agriculture as it once did, having long ago decided tourism is more lucrative and shady, but they do grow yams, breadfruit and cassava, which you will likely find in popular local restaurants.

If you're more comfortable with traditional food, there's a big selection of excellent restaurants more geared to tourists. Here are some you cannot go wrong with:

Britannia Restaurant

This is a good place to eat breakfast before you play the interesting, little Britannia Golf Course, which is essentially two courses in one: a nine-hole regulation course that can be played twice, from different tees, and an 18-hole executive course.

They're located on Seven Mile Beach. The restaurant has an open-air patio with views of the golf course and the iguanas that live there. It's also a good place to eat after your round - they serve lunch as well - or get a drink at the bar.

Breakfast is served 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hemingway's at the Hyatt Regency

Hemingway's is a very popular spot, so it's always wise to call ahead for reservations. It's a beach-side eatery with views of those colorful waters you came here to see, overlooking Seven Mile Beach.

The restaurant serves Caribbean cuisine, including fresh seafood, and has a very impressive wine list: Wine Spectator Magazine recently voted it one of the top three restaurants in the Caribbean.

You can eat outside on the patio or air-conditioned, indoor dining is available. Breakfast is served 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner daily from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Periwinkle at the Ritz-Carlton

Periwinkle is adjacent to the excellent Blue Tip Golf Course. It's a Mediterranean Bistro serving simple seafood and grill food, including home-made pastas and parmesan truffle French fries.

It's a good place to take the kids, since they show nightly movies on a blow-up drive-in movie screen. It's also accessible by water for boaters.

For lunch, I would recommend the Mediterranean medley for a starter - hummus, roasted eggplant, olive oil and flat bread - or the Cayman conch minestrone.

Try the sauteed red snapper in extra virgin olive oil for lunch. For dinner, start with Gazpacho soup or shrimp and mango ceviche, followed by artichoke and goat cheese pizza.

For the main course, especially if you like seafood, go with the yellowfin tuna with lemon-scented mashed potatoes. For dessert, I had banana tempura with chocolate, caramel and citrus dipping sauce, and I was very, very happy.

Black Pearl Galley Bar and Grill

The Black Pearl is a good place to go for lunch before you cut the wife loose with the credit card - it's located amidst all the shops at Grand Harbour in Red Bay.

Formerly known as Castaway's, it's open every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's a full-service bar, and you can eat inside or out.

Cracked Conch

The Cracked Conch is an excellent restaurant located on the waterfront at the top of Grand Cayman, and you can eat either inside or outdoors under the stars; I'd recommend outdoors in the evenings.

It's open every day for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For lunch, I'd start with a spicy red or white conch chowder, baby spinach and strawberry salad, wahoo steaks and garlic and lime marinated tiger shrimp.

For dinner, you must - must! - try the jerked baby pork ribs for an appetizer, or the turtle pate.

For the entree, the green plantain crusted grouper, over sweet and sour spring onions and a black bean guacamole, is excellent.

Or, the sea bass, lobster and scallop casserole, steamed in coconut milk with pumpkin, spinach and basmati rice is also very good. Basmati rice is an Indian rice known for its fragrance and delicate flavor.

Other Grand Cayman dining options

- Bamboo is a high-energy, trendy place with what many believe is the best sushi bar on the island. It has Asian-influenced food, "Smiling Buddha" cocktails and live jazz on Tuesdays.

- Rum Point Wreck Bar and Grill is a good choice if you want to get away from the congestion of Seven Mile Beach.

It's located at Rum Point, and you can eat barefoot at the picnic tables, beach loungers or hammocks. You can eat conch fritters, jerk pork sandwiches and jerk cheeseburgers while gazing at the North Sound.

Food service Mondays through Thursdays is 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Great Dining

    Tony Benny wrote on: Jan 4, 2013

    Outside area with outstanding view! I am amazed to read ur post, can an old man like me enjoy the food at these location? I have never been to these beaches in my life, now a days I am thinking to be there soon, looking for grand cayman restaurants which can fetch facilities for seniors I mean old persons.