GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands – I love all Caribbean food from Jerk this to Jerk that to any kind of coconut crusted sea creature to the fresh catch of the day to conch whatever.
But just how a succulent filet mignon can get old if you eat it everyday, Caribbean food can lose some of its luster when you eat it all the time.
But something happened the last time I ventured to the region. I found something entirely different. Sure, the cuisine was all local but with a very funky, Cajun twist.
Meet Casa Havana, perhaps the Cayman Islands' hottest restaurant since it changed its menu, giving it a New Orleans adjustment. Located inside the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa, Casa Havana has wracked up some impressive accolades from a AAA Four Diamond award to a the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
But perhaps the biggest accolade was when my friend, who has lived in the Cayman Islands for close to three years, proclaimed it was the "best meal I've had on the island since I moved here."
Casa Havana is helmed by chef Michael Farrell, who brought his Southern Coastal cuisine from New Orleans, where he spearheaded an award-winning dining program at the Maison Dupuy Hotel. Although the restaurant opened back in 1999, Farrell's presence and creative tweaks to the menu give it a new, fresh feel.
The meals at Casa Havana are all tapas style, small dishes that are stuck in limbo between an appetizer and an entrée and are good for two people to share.
My buddy and I relished in helpings of a braised pork belly with pumpkin puree, molasses, pickled scotch bonnet peppers; the Jamaican coffee crusted lamb sirloin with sweet potato hash, chocolate demi glace; the jumbo lump crab cake (this was the size of our plate!) with crawfish, avocado, orange; seafood gumbo with crab, shrimp, andouille sausage, and a seabass with bacon and potato.
|Chef Michael Farrell|
And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, our incredibly attentive server, Norbert Szalay, came along with a mouth-watering pistaccio creme brulee. Can there be a more perfect match? For the full menu, click here.
The ambiance was amazing as well. All tables overlook the ocean and Seven Mile Beach, offering some of the most romantic views, which was a little awkward for me and my buddy, but we got over that about two minutes into the experience.
Travel Agent recommends Casa Havana for anyone staying at the Westin Grand Cayman, but also for nonguests as well. It’s in close proximity to the airport and is located in the heart of Grand Cayman’s tourist district. The prices range from roughly $11 to $21 a plate. And Travel Agent can tell you that for the quality of food and the atmosphere, you really won’t find more bang for your buck at any other Cayman restaurant.
Meet the Chef
Westin Grand Cayman welcomed Farrell back in February as executive chef of the award-winning resort. Farrell’s resort cuisine is e inspired by his Southern Coastal style. His arrival is well-timed, as the resort recently unveiled a multi-million dollar renewal project in January.
Farrell has an extensive track record of success, and has been recognized by The James Beard Foundation, Wine Spectator, bon appétit and DiRoNA along the way. Most notably, Farrell spearheaded an award-winning dining program at New Orleans’ Maison Dupuy Hotel that paved the way for his award as one of the "Top Five Chefs of Louisiana" by New Orleans Magazine.