At the Chef’s Counter

Photo by Vicki Wheaton

Vicki Wheaton draws up a chair for an evening of culinary theater at the Kimpton, fueled by a wood-burning grill and lab-worthy mixology

The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa has become the new darling of Seven Mile Beach. Cayman’s residents have Facebooked, Snapchatted and Instagrammed their staycation images, leaving all in their wake green with envy.

Straight to the top of the bucket list for any Cayman gourmand is the Kimpton’s Chef’s Counter – a unique culinary experience nestled inside Avecita, which in turn is nestled inside Ave, the resort’s main restaurant. It’s like Russian dolls for foodies.

The Chef’s Counter can accommodate up to 10 diners, offering a personalized encounter with the chefs and mixologists in the open kitchen. You can see the food being prepped and cooked before you – much of it on the wood-fired grill and plancha (griddle) – as you are entertained by servers who make sure your glass is kept full.

You can see the food being prepped and cooked before you – much of it on the wood-fired grill and plancha (griddle)

Dale Sharein, our server for the night, introduced himself and chatted about what we could expect from the evening. The tasting menu was to feature multiple courses with suggested beverage pairings for an additional cost. We decided to go the whole hog in the spirit of research. He then brought over Chef Remy Lefebvre, whose impressive resume stretches from Shangri-La Hotels in Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur to Barcelona’s Michelin-starred Restaurant Reno

Right off the bat, we were presented with a surprise raspberry and anchovy amuse-bouche. So this was how they were going to play it. Okay, we were ready! As the evening continued, we discovered taste buds we never knew we had. Was it the Wagyu beef short rib, slow cooked over 18 hours to give it an unbelievable texture, or the queen snapper that had us at “hello”? Perhaps it was the fava beans that we found unforgettable, or the salmon roe with seaweed tagliolini…

These unexpected flavors were paired with some well-chosen wines. A standout creation from alchemist Juan Martinez was The Bull – the only cocktail pairing of the night. Fashioned from dark rum, homemade vermouth, chai tea, Grand Marnier and smoked bitters, we couldn’t get enough of it. Any thoughts of attempting to make it at home flew out the window, as we took in the sight of glass beakers, tubes and other paraphernalia that brought back memories of high school chemistry. When you go to the Kimpton, seek out Martinez and beg for The Bull.

When you go to the Kimpton, seek out Martinez and beg for The Bull.

Claudia Barrovecchio, pastry chef at Avecita, produced the first of two sweet endings: A smoked eggplant bonbon with white chocolate. Yes, eggplant. Who knew it would lend itself so perfectly to the world of confectionery? This was followed by a burnt milk panna cotta with grapefruit and saffron ice cream.

Beyond the extraordinary degustation, one of the joys of sitting at the Chef’s Counter is the intimacy of the event. It is an invitation to a gastronome’s home where you are treated like an old friend.

Chef’s Counter is open Mon-Sat with reservations set at 7 p.m. There are 10 seats available nightly. Priced at $88 (plus service) for meal only or $173 (plus service) for meal with cocktail and wine pairing. For reservations, call 746-4111.