Golden Spoons Review: Borden’s Pizza

| 19/09/2016 | 25 Comments

CNS Business(CNS Foodie): With the slogan “A Caymanian tradition since 1970”, Borden’s Pizza has been serving Cayman for 46 years – minus a few years hurricane hiatus. The quaint eatery re-opened a couple of years ago to much anticipation. I recall people raving about how great the pizza was, how nostalgic it made them feel and how excited they were to have it back.  

When it comes to food, “tradition” usually implies a family recipe or unique culinary offering. I was looking forward to finally trying for myself what this Caymanian twist on pizza fare would be like.

The new location, nestled neatly into the corner of Governor’s Square, is reminiscent of an old school pizzeria, with a large counter, checkerboard theme, a few eat-in tables and even some video games in the corner.

We called ahead to place our order and the young woman seemed friendly and helpful, but when we arrived she seemed bored, on the phone with another customer taking another order, and offered no gesture or acknowledgment. When she got off the phone a few minutes later, there was no smile, no apology for the wait, just a mild acknowledgement we now had her attention.

She informed us our order wasn’t ready, even though we were on time for our pick-up, so we waited about another ten minutes for our food to come out of the eerily quiet kitchen. In fact, the entire place was exceptionally quiet, even though there were a few other people waiting for their orders as well. While we waited, I decided to go check out the video games but they were not actually plugged in, to my dismay. Pac Man lives to eat another day.

When Ms Bored finally brought out our order — a Hawaiian pizza, Philly cheese steak sandwich, chicken wings and a house salad — my companion and I couldn’t wait to dig in. I was most excited about the pizza and excitedly opened the box. The crust is arguably the most important part of a pizza and the first thing I noticed was the pre-fab, frozen pizza crust. No hand-tossed, Caymanian-twist dough here.

The sauce was quite sweet and the cheese was ok but it wasn’t oozing and bubbly the way I’d expect a hot and fresh pizza to be. It was warm and melted, almost as if it had been sitting for a while after leaving the oven — which is funny considering how long we waited for our order to come out.

It tasted OK, but after about 5 minutes the crust started to harden and eventually we abandoned the pizza.

The Philly cheese-steak sandwich was a mess, and not in a good way! The whole wheat hoagie bun was quite thick and dense, while the unseasoned steak meat was reminiscent of Subway Philly steak meat. The miniscule amount of cheese was processed mozzarella (not shredded block cheese) and the bun to filling ratio was 4:1. This was not the Philly cheese steak sandwich we expected for almost $10.

The wings were dipped in batter and deep fried, and while hot and crispy as we expected, the “sweet chili” sauce was easily identified as a ketchup and hot sauce combo. Ick!

Even the fries were an epic fail. What should have been hot, fresh and crispy fries, instead were clearly old fries that had been refried. You can get away with this technique on certain cuts of thick fries lightly cooked a short time ago, but not thin frozen ones which had already been over-cooked. The result was dry, dense fries you could barely chew.

The “hushpuppies” were OK but they were really just fried balls of non-descript dough.

The $8 house salad was pretty fresh and comprised iceberg lettuce mixed with romaine, topped with some tomato, cucumber, raw onion and corn chip “croutons” (?).

Overall, my first Borden’s experience was about as bad as it could be. I decided to give a few other items a try over the next few weeks just to make sure my experience wasn’t a one-off, and every single item I tried was thoroughly disappointing.

The cooked ham and processed “yellow cheese” sandwich was just awful, the “roasted veggie” sandwich was sautéed canned mushrooms, with onions and peppers, unseasoned and once again completely lost in a large dense bun.

I also tried a veggie pizza and later a jerk chicken pizza, both made with lackluster ingredients and edible for the first 5-10 minutes before turning to cardboard.

The only things I thought was pretty yummy were the onion rings: real life sweet onion, dipped in a thick batter, fried golden and seasoned! They were quite delicious. It’s unfortunate, the rest of the menu didn’t have as much attention to fresh, simplistic detail.

Overall, my experience of Borden’s Pizza was grossly deficient. Not only was the food highly processed, over priced, poorly prepared and simply not delicious but there was nothing “traditional” about it.

A large pizza is around $20. I honestly would enjoy an $8 frozen pizza from the grocery store more.

Nothing we tried seemed to actually have been “cooked” but rather that the food was prepared and assembled. Do they have a chef? Do they need a chef? I guess this explains the quiet kitchen.

On top of the sub par food, the service was not welcoming and the ambiance in the restaurant was almost creepy — perhaps get some music playing or something.

It’s likely that 40 years ago, heck, even 20 years ago, there probably wasn’t much choice when it came to pizza. In fact, I’m fairly certain Borden’s was the only pizza place in Cayman back then, and if you’d never had pizza before, I’m sure any crispy crust with sauce, meat and cheese was a sure fire hit.

But today in Cayman, with exposure to so many different types of food and service, the standard is simply higher. And there comes a point where you have to ask yourself “is this delicious?”, because you can only ride on the tradition train for so long.

Eventually, customers will come to admit that just because they ate this food and loved it 20, 30 or 40 years ago doesn’t mean it’s still good (or ever was). Some traditions are just meant to be broken.

Category: Golden Spoons Review

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I love this place, it's company and atmosphere so very much. I've enjoyed every visit! I will always be going to get pizza from there because it is the best on the island! Customer service has always been top notch for me, no I don't personally know the owner or the family but have developed a great relationship with them since 2014, as the atmosphere and cayman kind I always witnessed and got first hand. I'm one proud Caymanian that will say growing up and going to Bordens will always be remembered and I'm extremely happy that they re-opened!!!! Keep your head up Tiffany, l will always support, even if I make a promise not to eat any pizza till I am allowed to. And btw that was the hardest 4 months 🙂 oh love the new crust!!!!!! See you soon!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I think it was a fair review, while its harsh I feel like its at least honest. I do remember back in the 90's Borden's Pizza was indeed amazing, my parents used to go there on nearly every last Friday of each month!

    However today, I feel that Borden's Pizza is simply just not what it used to be, I hope that they will get better.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I had this exact same experience at Borden's. Heard rave reviews about it but was truly disappointed. The frozen pizza crust was a huge turnoff!!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    "ut cuique sua" - to each his own

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Cayman people, reviews are reviews, that's the way it goes. Don't like it - Don't read it. You can share your feedback about this review, absolutely, but please, moving forward, don't think any establishment is untouchable because of their history or for whatever reason. Think of it this way, would you pay for just OK clothes because they were made by a Caymanian when you could have paid the same amount of money for much better clothes (nicer quality, appearance and durability)? NO.... If you answer yes to that question, then you're a liar too.
    If you don't like this review, whether you are the owner of this restaurant or a patron, tough tootie. In today's society, Social Media has become the dominant platform for marketing and advertising. Increasingly, these are valid and important channels through which consumers solicit and receive customer service.
    If you choose to ignore that, or feel it's unfair, then you should weight heavily the Pros & Cons of opening a business.
    For me personally, the best pizza on island is made at Italian Kitchen on EE. I'm sure there are plenty that would disagree with me, but your see, we are allowed to do that...just don't bash the reviewer.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree this review is pretty harsh but I also think people are too quick to respond to negative feedback just because it's negative. I've eaten there a few times and won't be going again, Caymanian or not. Why should I pay for crappy food? Just because they're nice Caymanian people? Because they mean well? Don't take it personally but no thanks. If you're going to serve food for money, please make it good. Maybe they should take the feedback and make some improvements. Invest in customer service training. Have a chef offer some advice on inexpensive ways to improve the recipes. Host some events. Just sayin.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Arrogant, condescending and so intentionally malicious a reader would have to think there is an ulterior motive behind this so-called review. Was this "critique" fair? No. Does the writer know anything about Cayman 20, 30 years ago? Obviously not. Golden Spoons has sunk to an all time low by publishing this rubbish. I for one am glad to see Borden's Pizza back. Their pizza is delicious and always has been (and no, I am neither Caymanian nor related to the owner...)

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    • Anonymous says:

      I went once and it was terrible! See, we have a different opinion to each other. Do we hug or do we kill each other?

      and the relevance to Cayman 30 years ago? Are you telling me that 30 years ago Borden's pizza was good? So it must always be good? I'm sure 30 years ago little James Holmes was good too, now he's just gone to jail for the biggest mass murder in US history..

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like this critic went in there in a bad mood as well. No it was not the only pizza in Cayman 20/30 years ago. Dominique Baraud also made pizza in his restaurant and his was also tasty. Bordens probably need a shape- up but I recently went to Brooklyn at Camana Bay,ant theirs was not too appetizing either. Nothing like the pizzas I have eaten in Brooklyn New York. Yes, Caymanians are use to traveling, and eating other countries food.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Pizza scene is pretty dismal. It would have been more interesting for multiple restaurants to be rated on their pizza and not single one out so harshly.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Are you kidding! I love Borden's crispy crust and sweet sauce pizza - I loved it back when they first opened at Morgan's Harbor years ago - and I still love it. I could eat it a couple of times a week. At least it's different from the other pizzas - like Dominos and Pizza Hut. Continue selling your delicious pizza. Maybe the service can use a little working on.

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  10. Amber says:

    I think this critique is a bit harsh. While the business is just getting back on its feet, it may take some time for the business to start getting revenue and be able to upgrade their menu and ingredients used in their meals.

    I do agree that some of the girls hired look bored but all have been friendly and the owners try to give young Caymanians an opportunity of employment. Furthermore, when the owner is there, she is also very warm and welcoming and provides excellent customer service.

    The service can be slow at times, I have waited at one point a half hour for a pizza to be served and at another point received cold pizza (and I ordered when I got there so it came from the kitchen cold) but other than that, I find the food to be good. The food is a bit pricy but well worth it in my opinion. So worth it that I drive from Bodden Town to Governors Square just for it!

    The place is quite but not creepy at all, it's fully lighted and also has natural light coming through the windows and doors. There is art all over the walls and also recently kids drawings added for a pop of color and interesting to look at while you wait.

    While it isn't a 5 star restaurant, we still need to encourage and support Caymanian owned businesses and I will continue to go there until they close their doors!

    To the owner Tiffany and her crew - job well done! I pray your business continues to strive and only get better with time.

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    • Diogenes says:

      You drive from BT to Governors Square to get cold pizza, which other than being cold (and pricey) you find to be quite good? Bloody hell, you are a dream customer.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I did say that it was cold ONE time and though it is a bit pricey, I find the food good and that is why I continue to go there.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I visited London and tried three different restaurants in one night trying to find food with seasoning that I could stomach. Where is the throw-up icon when you need it. However, because I am evolved, I didn't use that experience to colour the entire place, and found some really great food at other places. Such negative energy on this website. Don't think I will be back.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    I am wondering if by now you have come to realise that your review was based on YOUR misconception on the definition of the word "Traditional" in this context. This place is a tradition to many Caymanians who have fond memoroes of family outings, first dates and birthdays at the old Borden Pizza in West Bay. So no it was never a Caymanina twist on pizza and sorry for you that you did not do proper research. Sorry you weren't here during those times so you don't actually have that memory to draw in but how condescending to assume you know best. No one, certainly not Boden's Pizza nor its owner have claimed that this is a gourmet restautant, so then why are critiquing it as if it was meant to be and is somehow a failure. This is almost like eating at a fastfood chain and commenting how un-french the food is. Then your second miss-step was to make a comment about Caymanians not having had "real" pizza and therefore would have not had anything to compare this to. I will have you know that even if its just to Miami, Caymanians have always been traveling people, so please stop acting as if you know, when you don't. You know, a critique is one thing, but this certainly soinds like a personal attack on this business. I would just like to encourage the young lady who started up this bisiness again in honour of her Grandmother; dont be afraid to examine your business and see if there are things you can improve on, but dont let this negative ninny pull you down.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I remember Borden's and the pizza was fresh. How they ever thought they could reopen in 2014 with pre-made dough, with all the other choices for food people have here now, I can't fathom, but it was a very bad decision. If you want a real pizza, go to XQs.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I feel bad for these folks trying to run a small business. You review is probably 100% correct. Hopefully they have a little following and they get by. It is a lousy location, witnessed by the last two pretty good places there closing fairly quickly, and won't draw any new people.

    I just wish when you see something like this... Just move on and forget about it. The Hard Rock or Margaritville can weather a bad review. A little place like this can be crushed.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are not made with shredded cheese, in Philadelphia at least. Nevertheless the place sounds awful. CNS should give us some reviews of decent restaurants before continuing with the bottom feeding.

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    • Amber says:

      Please try before forming an opinion on the place.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I think I'll rely on the review. Too many restaurants, too little time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      reviews of decent restaurants?? Have you not read any of the previous reviews??
      Again, as soon as a review is negative, people freak out and think it's an attack! Not everyone loves every place, they are allowed to think their food was crap! They are allowed to think their food was great! I'm all for supporting small business, but part of that is taking negative feedback and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! If someone says they waited half an hour for a pizza and it came out cold... what does that tell you?? It's not FRESHLY MADE to begin with!! If you're taking pizza dough and creating a pizza, after a 1/2 hour baking it, it won't be cold-- you don't need to be a chef to make that statement!! I've tried this place several times and the last time we went they told us they didn't have small pizzas only large left-- Excuse me?? So that means the dough isn't fresh, the pizzas are pre-made, obviously!

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      • Anonymous says:

        An we are allowed to say we do not agree with you and the person who wrote the review. I think this is the classic difference between the Cayman that was once a community and the Cayman that former city dwellers want to create. In the community one, we support each other, actually contact the owner with our issues so they can have a chance to make changes, and then give then allow them time to do so or to even clarify a situation. if I were to write reviews on all of the big name restaurants here that serve old stinky unseasoned tasteless fish, and pre-packaged food, I would be wasting time on this website all day.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Haha That's funny, when I called the owner of an establishment in EE to tell him of the terrible experience our table of 4 had (we all agreed and felt he would want to know), he seemed to take it on board and then childishly chewed my head off in public the next time he saw me.
          I will never step foot in there again.
          I've heard since that the service is still terrible. So your suggestion does NOT work. Not everyone takes criticism very well.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    We tried Borden's once, it was OK... tried it again and it was HORRIBLE!!! So bad, in fact, that to this day, a few years after the "incident', I still feel sick to my stomach when I think about that experience!! The pizzas were so bad, not fresh, completely processed and nasty! I agree w/ the reviewer-- frozen pizza from the grocery store is 100% better than this!! How are they still in business??

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