(CNS Foodie): A true city-style café is somewhat of an anomaly here in Cayman. Coffee houses, yes. Restaurants, yes. But where are those sweet spots, where one can grab a coffee, snack or meal and a glass of wine without going all out? Nestled neatly along the Paseo in Camana Bay is Lola, offering a charming experience that lies somewhere between café, bakery and bistro.
I met my friend and her two young ones for some lunch after a fun morning at the fountains. We grabbed a table among the flourishing gardens out front and were offered menus by our silent server within one minute. Perhaps he was tired or not in a great mood, but a smile and greeting would have been nice. It was noon on a Saturday, so there were a fair amount of people out but it wasn’t too crowded. It didn’t seem particularly stressful.
We took a few minutes to look over the comprehensive menu. Breakfast is served till 11:30am with a wide selection of $10ish options, including benedicts, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, waffles and French toast. There’s even homemade granola and yogurt.
The lunch menu is another full selection of wraps, salads, quiche, sandwiches, burgers, curry, pasta and fish ranging from $7 for soup to $20 for grilled steak, fish or rotisserie chicken. The selection was a bit daunting so we decided to order a couple of the house specials — pasta Camana, the Lola salad, a couple of kids meals and some fresh juices.
I enjoy Camana Bay. The ambience is relaxing and the kids can tool around in relative safety. And we weren’t in a great rush so we enjoyed some conversation and some sun. But after 30 minutes, we were hungrily wondering where the heck our food was. I popped inside to check out the indoor seating and was surprised to see a proper bar, albeit a small one, with four barstools and everything.
If you recall the former incarnations of this space, you’ll appreciate the imagination in this feature. I was also happy to see they carried over the longstanding tradition of this kitchen in offering fresh, in-house, bakery bread. The interior is bright, clean and stylish.
Our food finally arrived and we enjoyed the preparations. The Lola salad ($12.95) looks small when it comes, particularly without any meat, but it was still hearty with roasted beets and pears. The colourful dish also offered good depth of flavours and textures between the goat cheese and the walnuts and was surprisingly filling.
The pasta Camana ($16.95) is not a heavy-sauce kind of dish. It’s light for pasta, with fresh spinach and mushrooms, tossed in roasted garlic, olive oil and parmesan (protein is an add-on). Despite not having a traditional sauce, I was shocked at how flavourful it was. The linguini was actually infused with flavour and was possibly even homemade (I forgot to ask).
The kids got chicken fingers and the hot dog, both of which are offered with carrots and celery or apple slices. Nice. The chicken fingers were the real deal, too, which I appreciated. Can’t do much with a hot dog. We finished with a mango tart. It was a beautiful, floral arrangement of fresh mango slices atop a nondescript custard-filled tart.
Overall, we enjoyed our lunch. The food was generally tasty, the ambience relaxing. That said, the service was absent any personable interaction, our food took far longer than it should have (without any acknowledgement) and I don’t think the value for money was quite there. While the Lola salad was enjoyable, I was surprised to see other salads with seared tuna or glazed salmon for just $1 more. And the pasta Camana also should either include protein or be more reasonably priced. The juices were good but again, at $6 for a fresh orange juice, not sure if they are quite worth it.
My partner recently went for breakfast there and said the veggie cheese omelette was good but not jump-off-your-taste buds good. It’s worth noting that the menu is designed for a variety of special diets including paleo, gluten free and vegetarian. All in all, decent food, slightly over-priced with great ambience but lacking service with a smile.
Category: Golden Spoons Review