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Golden Spoons Review: Calypso Grill

| 06/04/2016 | 45 Comments

(CNS Foodie): When I go out to eat, I’m super critical. But let’s face it, serving is not rocket science; a good personality will get you a long way, and if you have common sense, you’re in the money. Add a little time management skills and you have the perfect dining experience. Well tonight I went to Calypso Grill, a Cayman Staple (so they say), one of the best (so they say). I beg to differ.

After being seated, I waited for my friend to arrive, but in that time I also waited for a server. My friend arrived and after we had a nice catch up conversation, we realized that the server hadn’t even been over to us yet.

About ten minutes after being seated, she whizzed over with the overbearing “Specials” board, tossed it on the chair and told us, “If you have any questions, let me know,” and sprinted off.

Ahh, excuse me … What’s your name? Hi, how are you tonight? Would you like a cocktail, a glass of wine? Nothing like that came from her mouth. She literally dropped off the list, stormed off, came back a minute later, asked us if we had questions, if we were ready (which we were not) and left.

The whole interaction with her was terrible, down to every detail. I mean, what kind of server doesn’t even introduce themselves to their tables? By the way, she had three in total that I saw: our 2 top, another 2 top and a 3 top—hardly a busy section.

And the food …

Mediocre at best. The plating is atrocious. The sides are exactly the same no matter what you order — and they are terrible! A handful of shoestring fried potatoes with some tasteless steamed vegetables. This place is busy, so they obviously don’t care about creativity or plating — bang it out, turn and burn. I get it, but I can’t fathom how anyone in this industry would come here and think it’s amazing.

Back to the steamed vegetables. Is it really that much more time-consuming to at least humour the customer and put a bit of effort into anything? A little butter, oil, some garlic, or maybe just some salt and pepper?

My friend had the catch of the day ($30) and I had the ginger tuna ($36). It’s just a shot in the dark, but I guess the extra $6 was for the ginger soy glaze and a dollop of seaweed salad on top of the slab of tuna. Unbelievable! To top it off, we didn’t have any wine with the meal because the server didn’t bother to check on us until the food was almost finished.

I’ve never gone to a fine dining restaurant and not had a glass of wine with my meal, ever! I watched her closely, and she had so many opportunities to check up on us and see if all was okay, but she never did.

“Do you ladies want dessert?” the server asked, and we said, “Sure, we’ll take a look.” She walked away and a minute later she flew over and threw the obnoxious dessert board on a chair. “There you go!” she said, and walked off.

I avoided the sticky toffee pudding for dessert since I know that’s legit and always a crowd pleaser. Instead I had the ‘millionaire shortbread’. The presentation was okay — a little whipped cream with a few blueberries, a strawberry and piece of kiwi on the side and the shortbread and ice cream to follow. The shortbread was covered with caramel and chocolate sauce on top. It was enjoyable, but nothing I’d think about and want to go order again. My friend just had ice cream and there’s not much to say about that; it was fine. She ordered an espresso and when the server dropped it off, she put it in the middle of us. I guess she forgot who ordered it.

Bottom line, there are so many better options out there. The food tasted fine, but that’s just not good enough for “fine dining”. The service was terrible, the table was lovely and comfortable, but it was extremely noisy and the tables around us were not impressed. My martini was the highlight of my experience.

Our tables were so close to each other I could reach out and touch somebody. It’s a shame this place gets packed every night and the real gems of the industry are just half full.

Calypso Grill website

Readers’ rating for Calypso Grill:

Category: Golden Spoons Review

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Calypso had its days. I visit this restaurant many times for business and pleasure. Now to cramped rude service and management..,The blackboard menu written in permanent makers is almost the same as the printed one. Food is pooooooring. Undercooked tasteless vegetables and stingy cold hard fries for almost for every dish usually served with tasteless fish or meat. Desserts a very sweet and flavor less. I took it of my list.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I find it amazing that there are this number of negative reviews of Calypso Grill. In the course of our 7 years on island, we have probably eaten there 50-60 times. My food has always been VERY good. I have never experienced rude servers. ONCE was the service was quite slow but it was due to a large party on the deck and our server came by our table several times to apologize for the wait. Yes, it is a little pricey and yes, the tables are close together but this does not diminish my overall dining enjoyment because the food, the ambience and service are always just excellent!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I applaud restaurant reviews that aren’t “fluff pieces” for a place. When every review is glowingly positive it makes me question whether the person is truly reviewing the place with a critical eye, or providing free advertising. I recognize that it is one person’s opinion and that I may disagree with it.

    The sever giving their name is a very North American thing, I agree. It doesn’t bother me one way or the other, but I do expect to have someone take a drink order within a few minutes of me sitting down so that I can enjoy a cocktail while looking at the menu.

    I used to really like Calypso Grill when I first went there, well over 10 years ago. After a break from visiting the island I returned and took friends there and was disappointed – it was cramped, the service was slow and absolutely not present, and the food selections were, well, rather boring. I don’t expect to get the same sides with every dish that is ordered. That shows a lack of interest in making a truly interesting, integrated plate. It was ok, but probably my least favourite meal of the trip.

    But, I don’t believe in giving up on a place based on one experienced, and so returned 6 months later. The experience was very similar, and I will not return again, and have not recommended it to friends since then.

    Grand Cayman offers a broad selection of world-class dining – so much so that you are spoiled for choice. Calypso Grill has allowed themselves to get left behind. There are plenty of other places to go on the island that do a far better job.

  4. Bob says:

    I’m glad someone else agrees with me. Whilst there are good points to this place – it’s clearly living off a reputation that was earned many years ago. I agree entirely, those shoestring what ever they and sides taste disgusting. The tables are far too close together and small, the service is often rushed and for the love of god… please put some shade up on that patio… who wants to eat on a patio in the baking direct afternoon sun? I’m glad Catch has opened (with shaded patio) and now eat there at least 5:1 versus the amount of times I visit CG.

  5. Finest Diner says:

    The fact that there are 37 comments on a restaurant review story in a small town newspaper shows how preposterous this “review” is.. XXXX I found it odd that the writer railed about not being offered a drink but could later be read “sipping a martini” .. Inconsistencies aside — This restaurant offers the best dining in Cayman. I would rank it number 1 in a group of the 3 best restaurants on island. The Chef here is possibly one of the best chef’s ‘ever’ in Cayman and would truly be a best in London, New York or Paris. Cayman (and the establishment) are truly lucky to have him. My lifestyle sees me dining out 350 nights a year for the past decade and I am consistently surprised by the flexibility of the kitchen here to try off-menu requests for my guests and I. During the Cayman cookout at the Ritz I saw the chefs from the event sharing a table at Calypso Grill .. that speaks volumes for me. If anything I hope this review makes it easier to get a table. I’d likely not have commented save for the fact that it was so absurd.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, and we notice how similar this comment is to the one several comments down. Stinks of bs. The number one restaurant on the island? Oh my!

    • Anonymous says:

      best in London, New York or Paris???!! Seriously?? haha! That’s a good one!

    • Anon says:

      You really should go to London, New York and Paris…. Calypso Grill couldn’t even compete with gastropubs, let alone Michelin starred fine dining restaurants (and the price would be fairly similar)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I went there 2 years ago with my family. We had a very similar experience. Not to mention the price. I grew up here and have been to many of the restaurants on island, throughout the years. We try visit a different one whenever we can. Knowing what other fine restaurants are on island, it was a no brainer for us to permanently cross them off the list.

    The only good thing was the view, and then there are the memories of playing video games at Bordens.

    Amazing to see others have similar experience and they are still in business.

    Anyway, CNS nice Job!

    I look forward to more reviews.

  7. Island loverz says:

    This is honestly one of the three best restaurants On the island. As a frequent visitor who eats out 340 nights a year I have to tell you that no restaurant has better quality ingredients, prepared in such a way that’s so lovely and decadent but not fattening as the Calypso Grill. I love the place and if we could all eat everywhere completely for free this place would consistently be among the best .. I’m astonished by the review frankly and hope if nothing else that it keeps a few folks away so we can actually get a table!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I found the most surprising thing about the review was the insistence on the waiter giving his/her name. I have no interest in a waiter’s name, and would never EXPECT to be given it – although it is frequently volunteered, unasked for. This is a North American thing, it only began in the 1980s anyway to put at their ease people who weren’t used to eating in restaurants, and it is still viewed by many as an intrusion. You don’t find it elsewhere: has the reviewer ever eaten in a restaurant in Europe?

    Otherwise interesting, if a little immature in its over-dogmatic tone.

  9. Tiny Whiny says:

    The first 2 times we dined at this restaurant it was so great and left us wanting to go back again and again. This is when the restaurant was fairly new, 17+ years ago. However as years went by my friends kept wanting to go back and each time I went with them the Experience was the same, boring and mediocre. Sad.

    Now they try to jam in as many people as possible and then would rush us out if we weren’t ordering wine, it seems. It was obvious they wanted us out to turn the table and it was a rushed feeling and certainly not a cheap meal either.

    For some reason or another people assume I love this place and continually give me large gift dining certificates. It’s difficult to use them as I don’t care for CG any longer. Their prices have doubled, portions sizes have reduced from what they were when, in my opinion, Calypso was at their best, oh so long ago. If you want to hear surrounding diner’s conversations I would suggest that is your place. Just don’t go there wanting a great evening dinner, with great food and service. You’re not going to get any as it is today.

    Remember, people will pay for good service and food, I just don’t know why there.

    Anyone want cheap dining certificates for the CG? ?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think the CNS critic was fair. I have certainly had less than 5 spoon experiences at Calypso Grill over many visits but the location is magical and has always drawn me back. One memorable experience was having the large menu board blown over by the wind, hitting me in the head and knocking over my full glass of wine. Losing the wine hurt more than the knock in the head but did Calypso Grill offer me another glass on their tab as an apology for my headache and loss of my glass of wine? Hell no! I have had rude servers, i.e.,servers who have rushed my meal so they could get another sitting in before closing time and other negative experiences so I do not think the food critic at CNS exaggerated anything. If it were not for the lovely spot right on the North Sound, they would have been out of business a long time ago in my view.

  11. cmgparsons says:

    I have had similar experiences at Calypso Grille & refuse to return. I hate the same boring sides….. they’ve been the same for YEARS!!! Service is abrupt at best, tables too crammed together. Many other options on the island, including — but not limited to — the former Morgan’s Barbour & present Catch directly across the street!!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I understand that the craft of preparing food requires criticism in order to push the field forward—I’m not calling for an end to smart, incisive writing about ingredients and technique. I know that evaluating shoddy service and uncomfortable chairs provides a valuable incentive for restaurants to improve themselves. But as a reader, I’m not sure I want my local critic concocting new identities just to trick some chef into serving them a mediocre meal. I would rather know where a restaurant gets its chicken, why they aren’t using local tomatoes, and whether they’re paying their employees fair wages. And I want my critic to play a critical role in this extremely important public dialogue about food. So I’ll take the critic who is comfortable placing her opinions, and herself, in the spotlight, leading conversations about bringing fresh, responsible food into our kitchens. I don’t want anything to do with the one who’s hiding in a dark corner, wearing a prosthetic nose, judging some overpriced bisque.

  13. Gordon Ramsay says:

    Where is Calypso Grill? I’ve never heard of it
    I agree with the comment about Americanisms.
    I don’t understand the ‘reader’s comments’ section with the stars and bar-graphs.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The writer is clueless and clearly arrived with a chip on her shoulder. You want to be legit, write about your experiences over the course of a several visits.

    The best thing about this review is that it is on this forum and it just does not matter. It won’t influence anyones choices for dining out.

    • Anonymous says:

      the problem is that at most restaurants in Cayman good customer service and waiter personnel with some sort of personality is hard to find. Many seem to think they are entitled to a tip just because they showed up for work

  15. Anonymous says:

    Lets face it, there aren’t many poor places to eat in Cayman. Over priced perhaps, but food is usually spot on. I think CNS should do the reviews in different categories. For example fine dining, casual dining and take aways restaurants like burger king etc. You cant really compare calypso grill with somewhere like legends or coconut joes. They need to have their own category so that the spoon rating is fair.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the reviewer should have behaved as she normally would when eating in a restaurant, and then the meal would have conformed to her expectations? You know, ordering a glass of wine if you want one, not waiting to be asked… Who does that?

    • Anonymous says:

      As a diner you are well within your rights to smile at a server and ask their name if you feel it is required. Likewise raise a finger to get eye contact from a passing staff member and please…. What “foodie” does not have the ability to ask for a glass of wine. I have been around the restaurant business for years, chef, server, manager, owner, and now just 100% customer. I can picture these two with their note pads…

  17. Anonymous says:

    I love this new idea for reviews but I’m not very impressed with the first reviewer. She seems very rude, negative and likely to have a bad time wherever she goes! I enjoy Calypso Grill and eat there quite a bit with clients. Great atmosphere and good food but the prices are totally insane. I would not eat there on my own dime.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are in an environment that is not pleasing, you can get angry.

    • Anonymous says:

      THIS IS ONE OF OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS ON THE ISLAND. WE EAT THERE 3 TO 6 TIMES VISIT WHEN THERE. THE FOOD IS HOT, GOOD, AND TASTY. THE SERVICE HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD. WE GO EITHER BEFORE THE LUNCH CROWD OR AFTER. THE PRICE IS COMPARABLE. SHE CAN WRITE ALL THE NEGATIVE COMMENTS SHE WANTS, BUT I WILL CONTINUE TO EAT THERE. WE LOVE THE ICE CREAM AT THE END OF THE MEAL. THE MANAGER IS ALWAYS ATTENTIVE AND VERY SOCIABLE. MAYBE THE WRITER HAD A BAD DAY. TRY IT AGAIN AND BE MORE POSITIVE. HAVE FUN WRITING MORE POSITIVE ARTICLES.

      • Grilled says:

        Why are you YELLING? Shhhh.

        • Anonymous says:

          I have been enjoying the comments, and find it amusing that some readers seem to be upset!…..its only a review!…..one persons experience!…..no need to take offense. I think this is a wonderful idea, not because it might upset a few people, but because these are going to be honest reviews of one persons experience that we can agree or disagree on…..how great is that and maybe the restaurant might see from these reviews a few ways that they could improve things for their business and their customers. Well done CNS!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Who wrote this review and what qualifies them to be a fine dining critique?

    If this so called critique knew anything about fish they would know the market price for yellowfin tuna is higher than say wahoo or mahi which would explain the reason for the difference in price between the tuna and the catch of the day.

    “the food tasted fine” says it all really. The critique really has no idea how to critique food which is why so much attention was spent on bashing the server.

    Good idea CNS but can we have some qualified foodies writing the critiques? Also, I have no vested interest in Calypso Grill. I’m just stating the obvious.

    • Anonymous says:

      non-qualified foodies are fine, lets hear all opinions

    • Anonymous says:

      I am not sure that anyone who uses the terms “fine dining”, “casual dining” etc is likely to give a review to which I would attach much weight. Ghastly Americanisms.

  19. Anonymous says:

    So here’s my review of the place, Having been there many, many times, it may be a bit over-rated, definitely over-priced, but they do great business even in low season and if you haven’t made a reservation a few days in advance… good luck… Clearly, they shouldn’t rely on their reputation, but if the food’s good, its REALLY good, and if it’s not REALLY good, it’s just OK. Service can be spotty, they have a few arrogant servers there. It IS super noisy and yes you are jammed up right next to each other, but yet we continue to frequent it so…

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is awesome, I try to use TripAdvisor to comment on restaurants I like so that tourists and others have an idea but I know if it isn’t that widely used by locals so nice to see a local place for this.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Cool, I like this new initiative. Can’t wait for the next review. I know my favorite places, but want to see what others think about it.

  22. Anonymous says:

    food gets 2 spoons, really, not very honest review………….

  23. Anonymous says:

    It’s just food for gods sake. See what your body does with it in a day and move on. As a species we have waaaay too much time on our hands.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are obviously not passionate about what you put into your mouth so why comment on a food article? Too much time on your hands?

      • Anonymous says:

        I am so bored I read a food review. I am not passionate about what goes into my mouth you are right. What bothers me is your priorities do affect me and ….

  24. Think of all possibilities says:

    I’m absolutely LOVING this new restaurant review idea! Thank you for taking the effort to create reviews without bias. It will undoubtedly get criticized by the restaurant community, but it’s very important to give unbiased reviews to the public. Kudos for your integrity… especially in this day and age. Honest reviews also act as a mirror for the industry. Perhaps Calypso Grill will start paying more attention to training their service staff and stop relying on their old reputation to fool the tourists. Great job!

  25. Anonymous says:

    CNS – thanks for introducing this feature.

    As to your review of Calypso Grill, I’ve had two similar experiences there (last one being about 3 years ago). Glad to see that it was not just me! I won’t be going back!

    • Anonymous says:

      Me too – a few years ago I used to go there often until a few years ago, both with family and clients. Then I experienced the rudest service I have ever seen, in Cayman or elsewhere, and it was a special occasion for which I had made a reservation weeks in advance. The problem was not the servers per se, but the management – dreadful; have not & will not go back.

  26. travelleopard says:

    I like the “Do you agree with the CNS Review?” feature. Please could you add actual numbers next to the percentage?

    CNS: I’m going to look over the weekend when I have time to see if that’s possible. I agree it would be preferable.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m a bit disappointed with this review. I love the place. I think it quite harsh to have such a negative almost angry judgement that’s made publicly from one experience. I do understand the concept of being a food critique. But sometimes it’s also a matter of perception from the individual.

    I personally wouldn’t give the place five stars. But I also would not have described it in such a manner. It appears the writer provided a purely negative experience without providing any information of the positives.

    The review did not cover how the meal tasted or the ambiance which garnered a high score. The food tasted fine is such a relative description that it’s practically a worthless addition to the review. Was the tuna over or undercooked or sufficient?

    With that said, I think it best to choose wisely who you have writing these articles. It is unfair for a restaurant to be harshly judged whether this one or another by such an individual who presents as inherently unhappy.

    All in all I did not find this review helpful. I find the reviewer rude.

    I am not in anyway associated with Calypso Grill. I am a patron. I just do not appreciate bashing that is uncalled for.

    I do get that this is a new venture for you cns. Just try again with someone else. Or thoroughly think this through.

    • Anonymous says:

      To 2:37, the point is that for many people that one experience maybe their first experience and will decide whether they return or not. I go to quite a lot of restaurants in Cayman and too few of them spend any time on customer service. I think this is a great message to the management that maybe they have a bad apple or two and need to do some retraining.

    • Anonymous says:

      when you are paying those prices it should be perfect service, food and ambience

    • Anonymous says:

      You might have a point but if people felt angry, there was a reason. If a place exceeds your expectations your anger would melt away. Places that stay busy despite mediocre food, service and atmosphere would benefit from such reviews, otherwise they would have no idea that they need to work on improvements.

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