Passenger Pick of the Month
Eagle Rays Bar and Grill
Eagle Rays, a wonderful new place to dine on the East End, is being named by many passengers as one of the best new restaurants on the island. Ron Hargrave, owner and head chef of the very popular Tukka Restaurant, is the creator of Eagle Rays. Recently Passenger Picks caught up with Ron, a native Aussie and long-time Cayman Islands resident.
PP: Ron, we've been anxiously awaiting the opening of your newest venture, Eagle Rays!
RH: Eagle Rays is our new Dive Bar & Grill at Compass Point Dive Resort. We opened its non-existent doors in July, 2013. It's a beautiful location at 40 ft. above sea level with spectacular 180-degree views of the water, the waves, and the dive boats coming and going from the dock.
PP: So a Dive Bar & Grill for divers?
RH: We don't discriminate between divers and landlubbers. All are welcome to pull up a chair, marvel at the view, and sample a delicious range of international light fare.
PP: Which of the fare has created the biggest buzz so far?
RH: The Lion-Fish Taco's! Everyone is raving about them and the word is spreading like a bush fire with a tail wind. These light, delicate filets taste amazing when they're hot off the barbe. Mike K, Cayman's regional manager for PADI International, described them as "the best he had ever tasted." We are killing those little buggers as quick as we can. In addition, other favorites that have emerged are BBQ bourbon ribs, Cuban parmesan bread, and bread and butter pudding. Each day lunch and dinner are served outdoors, so bring the appetite of a whale shark with you. And, all prices are in US Dollars at Eagle Rays.
PP: Sounds affordable and delicious! How far is it from Tukka?
RH: Not too far at all, just a mile down the road from Tukka towards East End. When on the road, look for the big Yellow Submarine in front the Compass Point Dive Resort. You can't miss us…
PP: Our passengers have been raving about the "BBQ bourbon ribs", they say that the meat falls right off the bone! Can you describe the menu at Eagle Rays and what inspired the variety of food selections?
RH: Food just seems to taste better when it's served…in the great outdoors, or after a long day of diving. The international fare at Eagle Rays is just the ticket to satisfy a delicate or hearty appetite, with an excellent mix of vegetarian, seafood, and meat dishes on the menu. You can take a seat at one of the casual tables on the deck, or pull up close to the bar to enjoy a cold beverage. There's local beer on tap courtesy of the Cayman Islands Brewery – a definite favorite; nothing like a frothy glass of White Tip Lager in your hand while the sun goes down. We have the Lion-fish BBQ every Monday night.
PP: As divers ourselves, we're really glad you're having so much so much success thinning out the Lion-Fish. You are one of the few chefs that keep it on the menu all year round. Why is this so important to you?
RH: Actually our Tukka Restaurant just hit 6,000 lbs of lion-fish bought in a little over three years! Not bad for a little Aussie Restaurant on the East side. Now Eagle Rays is proud to join in and add to those lbs of lion-fish consumed each week. We are doing everything we can to educate people on the devastation these poisonous and voracious eating machines are capable of! Good thing they taste delicious! We work closely with the local East End divers to bring us in as many as they can catch.
PP: We love the delicious way you prepare the Lion-Fish.
RH: And we've got new recipes… including the very popular and extremely tasty Lion-Fish Tacos and whole deep-fried Lion-Fish (minus the dangerous spines of course!) Lion-fish is a delicate, flaky white meat that goes perfectly with a beer or glass or wine. Good for you and good for the environment. – it's a win-win!
PP: Tell us about your Diver's Buffet Dinner.
RH: The Divers Buffet Dinner is scheduled for every Tuesday evening – a very popular way for divers to fill up when their tanks are getting low. After all, scuba diving can build up those hunger pangs something fierce. Don't think that Eagle Rays is solely for divers, however. We may be located at a dive resort, but all are welcome to sit and enjoy everything we offer. $20 US and starts at 6 p.m. Residents and visitors are enchanted by the beautiful vista, and the food keeps them coming back for more.
PP: We understand you're very excited about your new Indonesian chef team.
RH: Yes, Chef Alies and Chef Widi have teamed up with me at Eagle Rays. They are fantastic chefs, and their creativity and expertise has led us to start Thursday Indonesian night.
PP: So what is Thursday Indonesian night all about?
RH: Every Thursday night at Eagle Rays Chef Alies and Chef Widi are bringing a new and exciting Cuisine option, a mouthwatering Indonesian Rijstafel night. The menu is authentic with an amazing array of culinary flair and presentation. Priced per course or as a five course tasting menu…and the choice is yours!
PP: Wow, that sounds delicious. We'll have to be sure we're back here on a Thursday night.
RH: No matter what day of the week it is, there's lunch and dinner available at Eagle Rays, with some specialty evenings on the calendar like we've talked about: the Monday Lion-fish BBQ, the Tuesday Diver's Buffett, and the Thursday Indonesian night.
PP: Tell us what made you choose cooking as a career, and how your career progressed.
RH: As a little fella, I enjoyed helping my mum in the kitchen. I became known as "the family's chef" at 12 when I presented my sister with a homemade birthday cake. At 14 I started working in restaurant kitchens until I graduated high school, then enrolled in Professional Catering School. I did a four-year apprenticeship with Ambassador Hotels, which took me to several Australian cities. From there I went on to chef for several prestigious hotels.
PP: Well, how did you get from Australia to Cayman?
RH: One afternoon in August '98 I saw a small advertisement in the paper, "Cayman Islands need chefs." After a telephone interview with Executive Chef Patrick Maloir of the Westin Casuarina Resort, I moved here in February '99, sight unseen. I started at the Westin as a line cook and worked my way to a Sous Chef. Then I had stints as Executive Chef at several outstanding Cayman restaurants, the best one being the last one because that's where I met my beautiful wife, Lana. Three years ago, we finally realized our dream, and opened Tukka! Then last July we opened Eagle Rays.
PP: So did you get any time for a break with such a busy year?
RH: Busy? That's an understatement! Two restaurants and two babies in three years! We did get to take a few days and visit Lana's home town of Bowser on Vancouver Island this summer and had an amazing time with the family. Our son Ledger turned 3 during Pirates week. He was born just 5 weeks after we opened Tukka! We will always know how old the restaurant is! And we have a beautiful daughter Kinsley who is 2. It is a beautiful thing to discover the world again through the eyes of your children. They keep us busy, but also remind us daily what is important in life…Love, Laughter and Patience!
PP: Great reminders. You've got such a beautiful spot out here in East End.
RH: Yeah, from the ocean deck you have the sparkling 180 degree views of ocean and the Compass Point dock. Then, when you have a full moon, it comes up right over here, at seven, eight, nine o'clock at night. Check our FaceBook page for dates and moonrise times. There are 3 evenings every month when you can witness this unique East End experience. It's one of the most beautiful things you're ever going to see in your life...listen to the waves gently lap against the shore while you see the gorgeous moonrise.
PP: Passengers consistently comment about how fun it is to dine at Eagle Rays… great food, great fun!
RH: Fun certainly is a goal of ours. I want everyone who comes to Eagle Rays to have an awesome experience and enjoy great food with friendly service. When I hear that our guests have had a fun night out and had a great meal, then I've done my job! Not everyone is lucky enough to spot an Eagle Ray when they're under the water, but at Compass Point you're guaranteed to spot one every day of the week!
PP: Folks, I think you can see why so many passengers are loving their experiences dining here. Don't miss this opportunity.