A right Royal experience

You know, in the rush of work, shopping, meetings, paying bills and – when there’s a moment spare – sleeping for a few hours, it’s often easy to lose your centre.

But it’s not just unhealthy to miss out on giving yourself time out; when you live in paradise and don’t get a chance to take it in once in a while it’s a farce and a crime.

Luckily, there are places on island which force you to take a breather and let the ozone of the azure tickle your heart whilst the warmth of another Caribbean evening eases into your soul, cuddles it and sighs with shared pleasure.

Royal Palms is one of them. Since an extensive revamp that includes the absolutely beautiful pool and swim-up bar, the beachside venue has kicked island treasure up a notch. It’s always been a wonderful ambience, with the waves lapping at the delightful shore, and a long-time favourite for drinks and the occasional meal.

And now, there’s a new menu which befits the occasion. It’s casual dining in a beautifully elegant upstairs location (you could also sit by the pool, or indeed in the bar area).

Rum and coke duly ordered – a margarita for Suzy – we sit back and await dual appetisers of calamari and onion rings. The portions are probably big enough to share and the jalapeno mayonnaise with the squid is just bitey enough to give the seafood a counterpoint to play against.

To be honest, I’d be happy just with that and a few beers and I file that away under the ‘interesting concept’ file in my bruised brain for future use.

There’s just enough chatter and laughter to let you know that you are, indeed, in a holiday destination. It’s not fine dining, thank goodness, which makes it all the easier to relax, gaze out over the water and let your senses remind you what life is all about.

As a Welshman, I’m hardly going to turn down the opportunity to get up close and personal with anything to do with sheep, so I opt for the signature Palms lamb and beef burger, which our server Mike tells us is a very popular choice. I can see why; the sweetness of the brioche it’s served in plus the juiciness of the lamb makes a great nosh. The sweet potato chips are equally good with it.

Suzy meanwhile has moved on to a Pinot Grigio to accompany another popular menu choice – the sea bass in a red Thai sauce. I nick a couple of forkfuls – marriage is all about sharing, I remind her – and find it buttery, rich and surprisingly complex. (That’s the food, not marriage, although the point still stands.)

The pudding is some profiteroles but the true sweetness of the Palms is in taking the time to sit back and breathe in the rare atmosphere of relaxation. Cayman is an incredible place, when you’ve got a moment to realise it. This place truly is a gift which forces you to consider your priorities. So, yes, I will have another rum: paying the electric company can wait a few hours. And thus time is back under my control. WH

For more information call 945-6358 or email info@freefgrill.com

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Stephen Clarke