THE BEACH HOUSE
At the Westin Casuarina Hotel
West Bay Road
Grand Cayman Island
Cayman Islands, BWI
Story and Photos by Senior Staff Writer: Les Noteworthy
Food: Service: Since its opening in 1994, the Westin Casuarina Hotel on Grand Cayman’s beautiful Seven Mile Beach, has been a culinary flagship of beautiful presentations, clever combinations and perfectly prepared ingredients. This story could literally stop here, as anything that will be said afterwards could be anti-climactic. Expecting a marvelous meal and experiencing a marvelous meal are not always the same thing.
I was invited to join some friends, who have been like family to me over the past few years, especially a chef friend who is leaving this lovely paradise of an island. We arrived at the Westin, his choice, and were immediately welcomed by the Executive Sous Chef and the Junior Executive Sous Chef. We were ushered to an inside table on a beautifully cool Caribbean evening, when the majority of the guests opted for outside seating. The Chefs had planned to entertain us with brilliant offerings, but suggested that we select our individual entrées while they supplied other tasty offerings. Sandy Tuason is the Executive Chef in charge.
The menu was divided into two pages, small plates…which the server explained could be either share plates or more traditional appetizer portions…and large plates, which were the entrée sized portions. This was fairly obvious to industry people, but none the less a thoughtful explanation.
Many of the small plates were intriguing, mostly seafood items…after all, we were at a restaurant named the Beach House specializing in what they themed, “Coastal Cuisine“, and located on the Beach in the Caribbean. The small plate items were all so enticing I wanted to order one of each, but settled on a Seafood Charcuterie Platter, simply because it sounded so very interesting. We also ordered a bottle of LaCrema Chardonnay, thinking the pairing would be especially accurate with the seafood items, yet still palatable with meat items should they be selected.
The talented Chefs had lots of treats up their sleeves this evening, and I felt honored to be invited to such a fabulous outing. The first plating we were each gifted from the kitchen was a beautiful trio sampler. First was the mango ball, created through the wizardry of molecular gastronomy, and resembled a quail egg yolk, but tasted like mango purée. Each was served in a tiny white cup on a black stone plate, making each dish seem to leap off the plate. The second item was a fried oyster, served with a foie gras crouton. It was crispy and briny, but not overly so.
The foie gras crouton was a small crostini, brushed with foie gras then toasted. The final taste was local wahoo ceviche; bright, citrusy and tender as a well prepared ceviche should be. Each was quite different, yet equally delicious.
The next course to arrive was our Seafood Charcuterie appetizer. This was a sight to behold, beautifully displayed upon the black stone platter, with small tastes of several seafood items, including Salmon Rillette, Yellowfin Tuna Belly pate, Octopus Carpaccio and Lion Fish Ceviche. These were accompanied by a small bowl of cornichons, green olives and pickled fennel bulb, pickled mustard seed, course sea salt, crostini and lime wedges. All the items were scrumptious, including the garnishes and accompaniments. Unfortunately the Tuna Belly Pate was fairly void of flavor.
The chef then graced us with another amuse bouche, a duo of octopus with a sweet potato fries and sliced duck breast with foie gras and a beet root rosette. Each of the proteins featured their own sauce, the oh so tender octopus was accompanied by a Dijon aioli, and the duck which was cooked perfectly, a delicate orange sauce. The plating was as beautiful as the flavors!
For the entrée selections, one of the guests had selected the Beef Tenderloin, with onion rings, a pot of truffle mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Another opted for the herb crusted boneless rack of lamb, pea purée and grilled goat cheese-potato cake. The lamb was beautiful in presentation, and cooked perfectly to medium rare. I had opted for our only seafood selection, the Jerk Marinated Wahoo. This was the tenderloin of the filet, marinated, cooked to medium rare, then sliced into 3 pieces. It was joined on the plate by sweet potato gnocchi, which were both firm yet tender. Once again, the plating technique was beautiful and cleverly executed.
Our dessert course was a delightful sampler of chocolate truffles, sponge cake, sorrel sorbet, sliced raspberries, edible flowers and ground pistachios, beautifully arranged on the plate atop a bed of sorrel sauce, and garnished with a sugar coil and edible gold flake. As a side note, I must state that I rarely eat sweets, but I left nothing on my plate. The combination of sweet and savory was a perfect balance for the palate, while the textures varied from bite to bite, keeping the mind guessing while waiting for the next mysterious bite! This was an incredible capsule of sweet, savory, colorful and creative.
The meal ended with an appreciative conversation with the Executive chef’s team, and of course strong espresso. This was an impressive treat presented by a remarkable culinary team. The food was delicious, thoughtfully plated, and efficiently served. Waters and wines were refilled in proper fashion, and all plates and cutlery removed and replaced when required. If I were to delve into any negatives of the evening, it would include the service. While attentive, some of the tactics were a bit off putting. For example, when pouring both my water and wine, small amounts of both were spilled. This created pools beneath each of the glasses, yet no attempt was made to clean them. Our principal server also reached in front to me to clear plates and cutlery without excusing himself. The odd thing is that both sides were accessible to him. The final observation is that one of our entrees was placed on the table with the protein facing away from the diner, which is to this writer is a major faux pas. The protein is the single most expensive and important item on the plate. It is the featured item…the STAR of the show, and should be placed before the guest with that main item closest to them.
Beach House has a strong wine program offering a full selection of mid-range, select and boutique wines from around the world. Let the service staff use their extensive knowledge in recommending the ideal wine pairing to enhance your experience.
As always, I ask myself, would I return. The answer is absolutely yes! While this is easily considered a venue best reserved for special events, the casual elegance and ambiance would lend itself to making any evening a special event. Would I recommend this to a friend? The answer is once again, yes! I think that I would opt to graze more of the small plates on my next visit, as the selections were somewhat unusual and intriguing, utilizing some techniques of molecular gastronomy, combined with beautiful plating and delicious ingredients that peaked my interest a great deal. They are open from 6:00pm – 10:30pm, seven days a week.
Yet, however you should decide to explore the menu definitely make plans to treat yourself to a special evening at The Beach House restaurant at the Westin Casuarina Hotel on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. We are sure you will enjoy it thoroughly, and be sure to tell them that Les Noteworthy from DinnerReviews.com sent you!