When you’re dealing with waterfront dining you almost expect fresh seafood to play an important role. However, few restaurants can boast that the fish put on a show for diners. Yet that is just one of the elements that make The Wharf a unique dining experience.
The setting sun presents a perfect backdrop for pre-dinner drinks from the outdoor bar on the expansive deck. This is also the perfect time to see the tarpon feeding before settling in for dinner.
The massive silver tarpon that erupt from the surface during the nightly feeding may not feature on the menu, but there is plenty of seafood, locally caught wherever possible, and prepared with a fusion of local and international flavours.
According to Sous Chef Umang Rastogi, the menu is built around pleasing the palette of local diners as well as tourists.
“When people come to here they do not want the same food they can have anywhere else in the world,” he says.
The menu features local produce wherever possible, although not often in the form or a traditional dish. It also features traditional preparation methods with unconventional ingredients – a true fusion of styles, but one that manages to avoid descending into confusion. The intention is always clear – combine flavours and ingredients to created the best tasting dish possible.
This ranges from the jerk-spiced salmon steak, which combines local flavours and local sides like sautéed pumpkin, sweet potato and grilled pineapple, to pork tenderloin stuffed with callaloo, bacon and Gouda with a tamarind sauce – all offering unique applications of familiar flavours and ingredients.
Then there are the specials, which vary depending on what’s in season to bring something special to the table. The choice of locally caught fish also varies with the season, whether it is wahoo, mahi or snapper.
Although the menu relies heavily on seafood, Umang is also very proud of their vegetarian menu items.
“To make a nice vegetarian dish you really have to think, so it has to be perfect. Every week we have a different vegetarian dish. Today we have quinoa cakes, which we serve with Mediterranean salad, artichoke and tzatziki. Then we also have raviolis, we have quiches, so there are options for vegetarian diners to. People want to eat healthy but they want it to taste good,” he says.
On Thursdays, the restaurant holds a special family night which has become very popular, featuring dishes served up family style.
“When you eat as a family, you put the dish in the centre, so we put the dish there, along with the potatoes and vegetables. We have seafood curry, we have seafood pie, we have fish three ways which is three different kinds of fish, cooked three different ways and with three different sauces and then we also put three different sides so you have spinach, asparagus and potatoes,” says Umang.
The wine cellar at The Wharf is also a matter of pride, having held the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 2004. It is also the only underground wine cellar in Cayman.
The dessert menu is as diverse as the entrees, also featuring a liberal sprinkling of local produce and flavours throughout.
Pastry chef Sigrid Posarnig is especially proud of her mango cheesecake which was inspired by the warm, tropical flavours of the Island. However, one of the other favourite menu items, the apple strudel, draws on her Austrian heritage.
Add live music by harpist Eugenio Leon and you have an atmosphere that is impossible to beat.
The deck is also the perfect venue for receptions and weddings, with Sigi specialising in creating the most extraordinary wedding cakes, while the chefs will prepare a menu that will be at least as memorable as the view.
For more information, call 949-2231 or visit wharf.ky