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Golden Spoons Review: The Wharf

| 25/04/2016 | 27 Comments

CNS Business(CNS Foodie): I’d been to The Wharf for dinner once and was not too impressed but I decided to give it another try. Some things have changed, and others have not. The place is massive, so much going on for a Saturday night! Barefoot Man was the entertainment, and the Golden Girls & Gents loved it! We had a good time watching the senior citizen dance party, wondering and kind of hoping we would be that energetic when we get to that age bracket. The plastic chairs have been replaced with more sophisticated rattan and wooden ones, but the place still looks cheesy to me.

Our group had a server who didn’t introduce himself and seemed more along the lines of a busboy than a waiter. Our water glasses were never less than half full. Other than that, he was awkward and not capable of making any table side small talk.

We tried the local tuna sashimi, very similar preparation to the famous sashimi at Morgan’s, however, The Wharf’s version doesn’t hold a candle to it. It was fresh, but no real depth to the flavors at all. The bread basket was stale and boring but was fine for dipping into their pumpkin soup, which was buttery and flavorful, but nothing magical.

For mains we had the “Surf & Fly” lobster filled chicken, served with piped mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, the local seared tuna with julienned Szechuan-style vegetables and jasmine rice, and the sea scallops with asparagus risotto and truffle sauce.

Remember my comments on the entertainment? Well, it’s a good thing we had that because our mains took way too long to come out. The server noticed this but instead of addressing the table as a whole, he said to the one man at the table, “Sir, your Surf & Fly will be out shortly.” Um, what about the rest of us? So we laughed, joking that our food is waiting for his forgotten order. Whatever. The wait time was excessive but we had a nice bottle of reasonably priced wine to hold us over.

Once the mains arrived, we dug right in. The scallop dish was nicely plated and the flavors were spot on. I do think they could have afforded to put another scallop on the plate, as there was a lot more risotto and only 3 very small scallops. The Surf & Fly chicken was very tender and the lobster “mash” inside was good too.

The plating was a bit 80’s with the piped mashed potatoes — a total American Tourist Trap dish! The seared local tuna was overcooked to a medium but was still good. However, the plating was uninventive and the sauce had a weird aftertaste.

Dessert was an interesting course. We tried the signature Wharf Napoleon, baked blueberry cheesecake and the coconut in a cup. The filo crunch pastry with the vanilla custard of the Napoleon was very tasty and the berries complemented the dish perfectly. The blueberry cheesecake was not too good, not too bad — a bit dry for a cheesecake.

The coconut in a cup was the most hilarious dish we tried all night — so much passion fruit it made our mouths pucker up. The ratio of coconut panna cotta to passion fruit was way out of proportion and made the dish too tart. The table in front of us ordered it as well, and we all watched to see their facial expressions after the initial bite — raised eyebrows and puckered lips! This dessert has potential to be great but they need to take the top 50% of the passion fruit layer off completely.

Although the staff was pleasant and food was decent, I just don’t see myself coming here again any time soon. It’s a tourist trap for sure. I can see why they flock to places like this — feeding the tarpin, being waterfront — but the place is so massive, it’s hard to make it seem fine dining or intimate at all. I guess for a big family on vacation, sure, why not? But it’s not the place for locals wanting to go somewhere nice for a special dinner.

Gratuity: 15% added to the bill.

The Wharf website

Readers’ rating of The Wharf:

Category: Golden Spoons Review, Good Food. Bad Food.

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    At the rate that these so-called foodie restaurants close down on the island, thank heaven we locals have a place like The Wharf to count on. The food and service is consistently good at the Wharf and that is why it remains one of the busiest and best restaurants here, year after year.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like one reviewer was asked to put away the Iphone during dinner by a grown up. I admit – I’ve only seen the Barefoot Man once at The Wharf….some of his songs are for a more mature audience. But I have been visiting Cayman for years, and now that my own kids are teenagers, it’s still a must dine experience. Once for the sea bass for me, a second visit for something new. Our latest visit was 2 weeks ago where my daughters learned to Salsa dance. We love it for the food and service, the cocktails at sunset, and of course the memories. I was enchanted in my 20’s, and remain so in my 40’s. Not going to the restaurant would be like telling my family “no snorkeling this visit!”

  3. Abby says:

    What a ridiculous review. Any local would know not to go to The Wharf on Barefoot night.

    • Anonymous says:

      Every time we’re in Grand Cayman we visit The Wharf, often more than once. The food is always delicious and the service fantastic. It’s the ideal location for my young family, serving foods for all ages in a beautiful relaxed setting. My youngest looks forward to the fish feeding every year and my teens love the dance nights after dinner. We’re not local but we’re regulars at The Wharf. I could go for a coconut in a cup right now…

  4. Review Reviewer says:

    No stars for this “review”.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I go for dinner with fiends, family or business not to pick up a server – foodie. Must be a American foodies. The wharf is a excellent establishment. Still running strong after two decates. Love the menu and style of cooking

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking as an American, it was a favorite of ours 15-20 years ago. We eventually took it out of our usual rotation because the food became undependable and the kitchen unreasonably slow. We might give it another try but based on the review and comments are not optimistic. We do like chatting with our waiters occasionally. It can be entertaining, and becoming known to the staff doesn’t hurt (unless one acts like some of the commenters talk.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    After reading the past review of restaurant by so called foodies is ridiculous. I believe, better Said they have no clue about food nor its history. Piped potatoes, strange tasting Szechuan pepper sauce, it’s Szechuan pepper. One of my uncles was a food critic for a European food guide. So therefore I know what to look for and how to taste food. Yes I have eaten at the wharf many many many times and never had a bad meal matter fact it is always outstanding. Doesn’t matter if the pace is full or have empty, my family, friends or clients always rave about it. Besides suburb food yes the restaurant needs updating

    • Anonymous says:

      Your uncle being a food critic dies not make your opinion on food any more valid than the next person. The Wharf is good but it is certainly not consistent.

  7. Just Driftwood says:

    Stop complaining about the perceived lack of expertise among the reviewers. Just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean their opinion isn’t valid. I’ve eaten at fine dining restaurants in New York that were touted by critics and found the food not at all to my liking, and I’ve eaten at dinky restaurants that I loved. It’s all a matter of opinion. There are really only about 2-3 “gourmet” restaurants on island, so a “real” critic would run out of spots pretty quickly. You don’t have to read the column if you don’t like it, but some of us enjoy it (and agree with it) so shut up and leave us to it.

    • anonymous says:

      Agree. Everyone has different experience based on their standards. Just read TripAdvisor comments about Cayman hotels and restaurants, they differ significantly.
      To determine value you have to compare. If you never had first class service, food and ambience dining, you don’t have an argument with those who had.
      Keep reviewing.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I dont go to a restaurant to talk to the waiters. I do think they could change the menu occasionally though

  9. Anonymous says:

    My seafood pasta was 99% pasta – one shrivelled scallop, half an oz of lobster and 3 or 4 dwarf shrimp. However the pasta could have fed 2 or 3 people.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Love the setting and had a good meal there recently but have had pretty average good other times. In contrast our server was efficient and friendly but the food took way too long to come.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I question the experience of Golden Spoon staff to be able to write such nonsense. I started dining at the Wharf years ago and stopped because I started trying other establishments as the industry grew. Upon returning about ten years ago….I now put it within the top 3 of all option for dining at that level. Service, quality, ambience and entertainment.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow. This whole “Golden Spoons” thing is out of order. The island is small and restaurants have always had a harder time making the dining experience as perfect as the “real world restaurants” always due to labor and supply issues. We are on an island remember. Its much more of an uphill battle here than in larger markets. The Wharf and its core crew are at the top of professionalism in this industry as well as Grand Old House and Morgan’s harbor. If you ever have an unpleasant experience at any of these restaurants you will be compensated properly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Morgans do not compensate. I had a meal thar was inedible and they did not take it off the bill. Disgusting customer service at Morgans.

  13. KAREN HUNTER says:

    We eat at the Wharf frequently and always have a great meal there. Services is very attentive and prompt and food excellent.

    I wonder how qualified these golden spoon people are to be food critics – so far I have not agreed with many of their assessments or criticisms of the restaurants!

    • Anonymous says:

      Have to agree with you KK. I don’t eat there often but the food is always good. The review looks like something that would have come from a young child with the emphasis on getting the food out of the way in order to have dessert.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I hadn’t eaten there is years but I do attend the bar more frequently.
    I dined there as a guest of a large table of 16 during this past Pirate’s Week. Service was actually brilliant. Server was just chatty enough, she wasn’t there to entertain. And the food was incredible.
    If not, you’ve ordered the wrong thing!
    I was very impressed.

  15. Benjy says:

    Correct to type: no way.

  16. Benjy says:

    1. Give the server an extra point for in now way being instrusive. It is not his job to make small-talk or in any way entertain you.

    2. Does this restaurant present itself as a gourmet restaurant?

  17. Anonymous says:

    “… the piped mashed potatoes — a total American Tourist Trap dish! ”

    Duchess potatoes are classic French….

    • Anonymous says:

      They’re also cheap to make but look like they take a lot of effort, so perfect for tourist traps seeking to separate non-repeat diners from as much of their money as possible while maintaining a reputation for…something worth paying for. Whether they are French in origin or not. So, what exactly was your point, when this was obviously the point of the reviewer?

      • Anonymous says:

        I think the point was the snide comment. The potatoes may be tourist trap food (like most of the food in Cayman) but they are not American.

        • Anonymous says:

          The tourist trap is American. Or rather, it is American tourists that are sought to be trapped. If Duchess potatoes are used to trap said American tourists, said potatoes can be called an “American Tourist Trap” dish, although the potatoes not be “American” themselves.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Getting there… Honestly, we really do not care what the servers name is. But, it’s nice if they can make a little small talk, especially for 2-4 tourists. Larger parties, just don’t mess it up.

    On the food, good descriptions of the dessert and the mains and what you felt was good, and what you felt could have been better, and importantly, if you know your stuff, how to make an improvement. Well, except the sashimi.

    And you touched on ambiance but you miss the point of that place. It is an iconic waterfront location. The tarpon feeding is extraordinary and a must see for visitors especially families. The sunset views are wonderful and is one of only a handful of places that offer a full evenings entertainment of dinner and dancing. Happy hour is great and the Salsa and Boogie nights in the bar are legendary.

    In my opinion, they could lose some of the average servers that are just putting in the time, add some fresh exciting personalities, modernize the menu, and they will still be going strong when we reach golden years.

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