Grand Cayman prides itself on a variety of culinary offerings, from street-side vendors selling jerk chicken to ultra fine dining restaurants worthy of Michelin stars. On the upper end of that scale is Osetra Bay, one of the most elegant restaurants in Cayman.
As it is with most things, different people like different kinds of restaurants. For some, a great burger or fish and chips with an inexpensive price is what they want when they eat out. Others look for a more refined dining experience, similar to the kind found in the world’s great cities.
But there’s no need to travel to New York or London to experience great fine dining when there are good options right here on Grand Cayman. Osetra Bay is one of those options.
As it has in previous years, Osetra Bay closed during Cayman’s hottest months, taking a three-month seasonal break from the end of July through the end of October.
Just because the restaurant was closed, doesn’t mean the Osetra Bay team wasn’t busy, said co-owner James Sedgley.
“The minute we close the door on one season, we are working on the next,” he said. “Last year Chef [Joseph] Watters spent the summer on a research and development tour of Michelin-starred European restaurants and this year it was American ones. He took in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Napa, amongst others.”
Sedgley said it’s always interesting to see what ideas Chef Watters comes back with from his travels and this year’s Osetra Bay menu displays some Asian influence.
“That’s doesn’t mean to see we’ve lost our Franco-European roots,” he said. “It just means we are spicing things up and… there’s more of an Asian tweak this year. So I guess you could call us Euro-Pacificaribbean!”
A perfect example of this fusion is the Dim Sum appetizer with oxtail, foie gras and passion fruit gastrique. The Asian influence also evident in the East-meets-West Veal Sweetbreads, which is served as starter with kimchi and Granny Smith apple and a fried quail egg.
Osetra Bay not only offers one of the best fine dining experiences on Grand Cayman, it also has the coolest vibe – and that’s not just because of the ocean breezes coming in from the North Sound.
Located in the Morgan’s Harbour area of West Bay, Osetra Bay offers the most stylish waterfront dining in Grand Cayman and takes alfresco dining to a higher level. With natural woods set off by white tablecloths and white curtains [and the wait staff dressed in all white linen], Osetra Bay exudes elegant chicness.
The attention to detail at the restaurant is extraordinary, from the high-quality flatware and Riedel crystal wine glasses, to the beautifully designed finger bowls and unique touches like the reusable two-piece, screw-together chopsticks that come in a tied cloth for the new Asian-influenced menu items.
Then there’s the little mason jars in which Osetra Bay’s whipped mashed potatoes are served, something Sedgley says is a way the restaurant – known for its haute cuisine – almost pokes a little fun at itself.
The service is attentive and professional. As it is elsewhere in the best fine dining restaurants, different staff members attend to different aspects of the meal, from beverages to bread service to food.
Part of the open-air dining area is under an elegant thatch roof, while the deck seating is in under the stars, where clear Plexiglas panels – which block the prevailing northeasterly winter winds – are the only thing separating guests from the waters of the North Sound.
An eclectic mix of contemporary jazzy music – Sedgley says “Buddha Lounge” is the closest genre – plays in background.
“It’s a cool and kind of chilled-out vibe,” he said of the music, noting that some people have remarked that it reminds them of spa music.
Sedgley said he likes to think of Osetra Bay as a “food spa” where people can get a pampered culinary experience that is invigorating to many of the senses.
Some Asian influence isn’t the only change on the Osetra Bay menu, which has been revamped after the summer closure, as it always is.
“I think we are one of the few restaurants in Grand Cayman that completely change the menu every year, whilst maintaining the same quality of service, presentation and ambience,” said Sedgley. “We learn a lot with each passing year about how Cayman diners want to be fed, treated and served and we always try to come back reinvigorated and with a resolute purpose to make sure every guest gets exactly what they expect and more.”
This year’s menu also includes starters like sautéd squid with capers, lemon and garlic; beef fillet tartare with pickled pearl onions, fried capers and brioche crisp; and Laughing Bird shrimp sautéd with vodka, San Marzanno tomatoes, basil and chili flakes. Main courses include two vegetarian pastas, two speciality fishes – Sea Bream and Cobia – and one dish each featuring pork, lamb and chicken.
In addition to the menu specialities, Osetra Bay serves freshly caught “market” fish and several cuts of Certified Angus Beef steaks, all cooked to order and served simply to accentuate the meat.
The restaurant also offers a five-course tasting menu that includes its spectacular five-item amuse bouche for $85.
Osetra Bay has also made some personnel changes. Helping Chef Watters in the kitchen now is sous chef John Taube IV, who worked at the world-famous Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago previously. The new pastry chef, Jurgis Asvydis, comes all the way from Lithuania and is an alumni of the international Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.
“They both add an extra element to the already well established brigade of culinary professionals toiling away in the Osetra Bay kitchen,” said Sedgley.
Osetra Bay also did some remodelling over the summer, turning one of its indoor lounges into a dining room, perfect for private functions or for when the weather is bad.
The room will be used for a new Saturday night offering called Exclusively Gold, which aims to raise the bar for Cayman’s culinary experiences starting in December.
The Gold Service evening starts with a Champagne and canapé reception followed by a multi-course tasting menu paired with fine wines, with all dishes introduced by Chef Watters himself. Each month the tasting menus will take on different themes, with “France’s Greatest Chefs” being the theme for December. January’s “Truffle Month” menu will use truffles in all of the dishes; February’s theme is Tuscany; March is “Medieval Month”; and April looks at the merging of science and cooking with “Molecular Cuisine”, a passion of Chef Watters.
The price for these unique culinary experiences is $250 per person, inclusive of wines and gratuities. The Gold Service is also available on other nights for groups.