Passenger Pick of the Month
One of the most unique dining experiences in the Cayman Islands is Roland’s Garden. After entering the quaint building through the large welcoming porch, you’re led to a screened-in back garden filled with plants and flowers. Narrow pathways between the foliage take you to niches where picnic tables are gently lit by the glow of oil lamps. There is no menu, no set prices, no roof, no walls, you can bring your own alcohol, and best of all…the food is outstanding!
As this month’s Passenger Pick of the Month, we wanted to learn more about the story behind Roland’s Garden, so recently we caught up with owner and head chef Roland Schoefer, and his son Julian.
PP: We just love this! So, tell us the story behind Roland’s Garden.
RS: Well, after I retired in 2003, I wanted to create a place where you could come over to my home and have an intimate dinner in the garden in my front yard. The idea is to keep it simple. So we don’t have a menu, instead I cook a four or five-course dinner, the same for everyone, and you pay me what you think it’s worth.
PP: It’s a great concept. We love your food! Have you ever had anyone ask to see a menu?
RS: Sometimes, but I tell them with a smile, “whatever I cook - that's what you get! Don’t worry, I’ll bet you’ll like it.”
PP: Well, we sure do. We first heard about you a couple of years ago when some passengers couldn’t stop talking about their experience. So we met by having dinner in your garden at your home near Frank Sound. It was outstanding!
RS: I remember that! I operated there at my home for almost 7 years. Not long after your visit, for a number of reasons, we decided to relocate here, near Seven Mile Beach in the former Butterfly Farm on Lawrence Boulevard.
PP: This is a really beautiful spot. Even though this is much larger and can serve more folks, you’ve still maintained that intimate dinner feeling in your outdoor garden. And no bugs!
RS: Yes, we have the entire back area enclosed in mosquito netting, so you still get the natural outdoor feeling without being bothered by insects.
PP: We love your passion for food, and how you take the time to personally explain what’s in each course.
RS:I like to bring the food right from the kitchen area with my apron still on, and take time to describe the sauces, the spices, the juices, the meats, the cheeses and anything else involved in the various items I serve. I like my guests to feel like they’re at my home.
PP: So do you need reservations?
RS:Yes, that would be a good idea. Even though we’ve been able to add more tables with our new location, on many nights we can fill up fast.
PP: So I recognize your German accent, but where did you grow up?
RS: I grew up in Heidelberg, Germany.
PP: Oh, we’ve visited there, what a beautiful place! Tell us about your culinary career.
RS:I started my career in Heidelberg, eventually becoming a nightclub and restaurant owner there in the 70’s. I then went to the United States to cook at a German restaurant in Monterey, California before I came to Cayman in 1982 to work at the Galleon Beach Hotel. After that I started the Lighthouse Club in Breakers, then spent seven years at the Top of the Falls at Treasure Island, and finally at Captain Morgan’s Steakhouse before I retired. So I’ve been here on Cayman for 30 years now.
PP: And we’re sure glad you’re here! So how does this “pay what you think its worth” thing work?
RS: Just that, we ask our guests to pay us what they think their experience was worth.
PP: Have you ever had someone grossly under pay you?
RS: It has happened, but the reputation we’ve developed over the years brings us lots of repeat customers who treat us fairly.
PP: That’s great. Julian, tell us about the Beer Garden.
JS: We’ve created the first German beer garden in the Caribbean. People can come down, bring their kids - we’ve plenty of room. It’s at the same location, reservations are not required, and yes, there is a simple menu with prices along with an impressive list of international beers ranging from the familiar to the obscure.
PP: Tell us about your beer selection.
JS: On tap we have CayBrew, CayLight, White Tip, Ironshore Bock, Heineken and Hoegarden (wheat beer). We also have 13 bottled beers ranging from Beck’s, Stella and Corona to Wernesgruener Pils, Erdinger Weissbier and Hacker Pschorr.
PP: Ok, we’re thirsty now! Do you have any daily beer garden specials?
JS: We do have a few. There’s: Schnitzel 2esday, Wheat Beer Wednesday, Beer & Brats Thursday, and Caybrew Friday.
PP: So…no menu on the dining side, but you do have a menu for the beer garden, right? Tell us about it.
JS: On the beer garden menu is absolutely simple German-style food: Bratwurst, Schnitzel, German Burger, Smoked Ham in a tomato bread crust, Gulaschsuppe(spicy Beef soup with homemade bread),Zwiebelkuchen(German Onion Cake with potato salad and garden greens),Kaesespaetzle(German style Pasta with garden greens and fried onions),Roland’s Salad(different salads with mozzarella) and Apfelstrudel.
PP: That sounds wonderful. Now we’re thirsty AND hungry!
Folks, this has become one of our favorite experiences on Grand Cayman. So plan a visit to Roland’s Garden for an escape from the everyday. Call or check out their website for more information and how you can book your table in “the garden”.
Dinner & Beer Garden
52 Lawrence Blvd.