In recent years Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands has been dubbed the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean and when you arrive, it’s easy to see why. The Seven Mile Beach corridor on the island’s West Coast is packed with beachfront hotels, luxe condominiums and a plethora of dining options, from local fare to fine dining. Nestled South of Miami and North West of Jamaica, Cayman is a small island making a big splash on the Caribbean’s culinary scene, especially with its newest restaurant development, YARA The Global Steakhouse.
Meaning “the place” in the native Caribbean Taino language, YARA is the latest dining attraction on the Seven Mile strip and recently opened its doors after much anticipation. At the helm is veteran Chef Dylan Benoit, returning to Cayman after a year of travel and food exploration throughout Asia with brief stopovers in Mexico, Australia and Ireland. Being a seasoned traveler, we asked Chef Benoit what it means to be a “Global Steakhouse”.
“To me, Global Steakhouse means we can explore cuisines from all over the world with the menu at YARA. Cooking food with a fire and grill is universal, and there are dishes from every corner of the globe that can be researched, tested and put into practice under this concept; which is very exciting. We also plan on taking this brand global with locations outside of the Cayman Islands, and I expect each location will have a slightly different menu, exploring a different culture and cuisine.”
For the flagship location, Chef Benoit and his team have shaken off the shackles of a traditional steakhouse and injected YARA with a large dose of Caribbean influence and a strong nod to Nikkei cuisine. Nikkei cuisine has been developing, particularly in Brazil and Peru, over the last century. An evolutionary style of cooking that blends the traditional dishes and cooking techniques of Japanese immigrants with the immeasurable produce, seafood and wild ingredients available in South America.
“I think the best way to describe the menu is playful. My team and I love working with unique ingredients like yuzu, black garlic, aji amarillo and aji panca, purple potatoes and fresh wasabi root, as well as uncommon game meats such as venison striploin, bison ribeye and lamb ribs. We want to challenge the guests a bit, give them something they have never tried before, without coloring too far out of the lines. There is such a consciousness around food these days and the general public is being exposed to more and more cuisines and cultures daily. People are accustomed to eating really, really good food, especially here in Cayman. A guest is not going to come to my restaurant and order something they could cook for themselves, so we are always pushing to prepare and present food in a different way.”
Different has always been Chef Benoit’s style. The meal starts out with a daily selection of fresh baked breads and YARA’s signature cold-smoked honey & sea salt butter, followed by a delicate amuse bouche to whet your appetite. Dishes like the miso baked oysters with cucumber and radish mignonette and the Nikkei style tuna tartare with yuzu red pepper gel and avocado will have you reaching for more before you’ve finished your first bite. The tri-colored quinoa risotto is a creative twist on an old classic, served with sautéed mushrooms, shredded kale and a house made queso crema; it’s delicate, rich and packed with the health benefits of two superfoods. The raw bar at YARA juts out into the lounge next to the bar and offers local tuna, snapper and wahoo. The highest quality salmon flown in from Scotland and Norway is also served to on looking guests, as well as an ever-evolving selection of oysters from all over North America.
But of course, steak is the highlight of any great steakhouse, and YARA is no exception. Offering a variety of cuts, sizes and even a selection of dry aged steaks, YARA has everything from delicate and tender filet mignon, to bone in “cowgirl” ribeye and even a two pound Porterhouse to share, or enjoy all on your own. Appealing to a diverse audience, YARA also boasts some unique offerings like the venison striploin, bison ribeye and a Wagyu feature. The rubbed, smoked and sous vide lamb ribs are a unique twist on a southern staple, and the bacon wrapped rabbit saddle with cheddar and kale stuffing is an absolute must-try.
Creative cocktails perfectly curated for the Caribbean are a signature here. The YARA Fizz, comprised of rose petal-infused Pisco swirled with fresh lime juice, pineapple juice, a touch of pomegranate syrup and topped with sparkling wine, is as refreshing as it is delicate. The Gin & Ginger combines smoked rosemary with fresh lemon and house made ginger cordial to create an incredibly unique and dangerously easy-to-drink concoction. For something a little stronger, the Veranear is an ode to summertime and a twist on the classic Boulevardier. Using a bitter blend of fresh strawberry, Campari and Aperol mixed with bourbon, sweet vermouth and dehydrated orange.
The atmosphere inside YARA is as exciting as the menu. You can feel the beat of the sultry lounge music as you approach the entrance and become whisked away by the simplicity of the contemporary island décor. Reclaimed driftwood and air-brushed murals are scattered throughout the indoor and outdoor dining areas as Himalayan pink salt candles omit a soft glow from the tables. Large comfortable chairs invite you to melt into your seat as the music floats through your ears and the steak melts in your mouth. Exciting, enticing and inviting, there is no doubt that YARA is “the place” to eat in Cayman.
YARA Global Steakhouse, 269 West Bay Road at Margaritaville Beach Resort
Kitchen open 5pm-10pm 7 days a week
Bar and Raw Bar open:
Sunday – Wednesday: 5pm-11pm
Thursday – Friday: 5pm-1am
For reservations, please call 1.345.640.6441