When you’re trying to think of somewhere wonderful to dine, you might automatically only consider the Seven Mile Strip, but if you take the coastal drive to Breakers you’ll find a treasure overlooking the water known as The Lighthouse Restaurant.
The Lighthouse is a legendary dining establishment in Grand Cayman; in fact it celebrated 20 years in business on New Year’s Eve, 2012. The owners Giuseppe “Captain G” Gatta and his lovely wife Susanna remember that first night in 1992 as though it was yesterday.
The opening had been delayed for weeks, and just before New Year’s Eve they were informed that everything was ready to go. “We decided to open,” recalls Captain G, “and with no advertising whatsoever we still ended up with 98 covers. The word of mouth spread like wildfire.”
Since then this wonderful restaurant has won fans locally and abroad for its excellent cuisine, warm, friendly service, and stunning views. The deck over the water has been rebuilt since it was destroyed in Hurricane Ivan, and there is no finer seat in the house than at a table on that deck.
My friend Lynne and I headed to The Lighthouse on a cool January evening, and when we arrived we were taken to one such table. We sat down and then looked out over the beautiful clear sea to the sun that was beginning to set. The waves lapped the shore beneath us, and the breeze lightly blew around us as we were given menus by our server Chowtee, originally from Trinidad.
Chowtee has been with The Lighthouse for about 10 years. In fact a number of the staff members have worked there for a long time. It’s the mark of a good Captain when his crew is happy!
We started with some cocktails. Lynne had a cosmopolitan and I decided to go with the signature strawberry and raspberry mojito. I like me a good cosmo (which hers was) but I was thoroughly enamoured with that mojito. It was just the right level of sweetness and delicious. When you go, you should try at least one.
As we enjoyed our beverages we were brought complimentary bruschetta – crisp bread, baked in-house, topped with a three-cheese spread and chopped tomatoes and olives. Honestly, I know I sound like a castaway that has just been given proper food for the first time in months, but that bruschetta was dee-lishus! I could have eaten just that all night long!
Of course woman cannot live on bruschetta alone (although I would have been willing to give it a try), and so we ordered our appetisers and main courses. I went with a classic starter: the caesar salad. Lynne chose the more exotic Tuscan sausage, which I decided I would be tasting as well.
For my main I went for the seafood curry, and Lynne (after much backing and forthing, she wanted so many of them) finally landed upon one of the vegetarian options – the cannelloni filled with sundried tomatoes, spinach and ricotta cheese.
As we awaited our appetisers, we once again marvelled at the sight before us. Even though both of us have lived in the Cayman Islands for decades, we had forgotten how stunning and unspoiled the south coast of the island can be. If either of us had been dating someone we would have made a Valentine’s dinner reservation right there and then.
The appetisers arrived, and they were marvellous. My caesar salad was just right with a good balance of dressing, garnished with a long flat crispy crouton. Lynne’s was absolutely divine. Earthy yet sweet with a bit of a kick, this sausage became an instant favourite for both of us. Order it; trust us.
We finished off our appetisers, had a sip of drink and chatted with other guests who seemed to be having as good a time as we were. It wasn’t long before the main courses arrived, and they certainly did not disappoint. The seafood curry was fabulous. Fragrant jasmine rice with hearty chunks of seafood heaped on the plate, and I’m talking shrimp, lobster and the like. It wasn’t one of those seafood dishes where you had to go hunting for the goods, no sir!
Lynne’s cannelloni was wonderful (vegetarians will be thrilled) especially as the dish was accompanied by marinara and alfredo sauce. We both had to have bites of each other’s choices, and by the end of the mains we were pretty full. Of course we still had to make room for dessert, because…
…one of The Lighthouse’s signature items on its menu is a huge martini glass of original or chocolate beignets served with sauces, mousse or ice cream, depending on your choice. This is definitely a dessert for two, and the perfect end to a romantic dinner along with one of the best cappucinos you have ever had.
We rolled out of there by the time we had finished, sated and happy. We vowed to return again sooner rather than later, as there were so many more dishes we wanted to try.
You need to go back to The Lighthouse with friends, family or that special someone in your life. You’ll find it’s possible to truly fall in love with a restaurant, and The Lighthouse is that restaurant.
You might say that you’ll see the light.