Passenger Pick of the Month
Guy Harvey’s Island Grill
Overlooking the picturesque George Town harbor, Guy Harvey’s Island Grill is one of our favorite restaurant experiences on the island. As this month’s Passenger Pick of the Month, we wanted to learn more about the story behind Guy Harvey’s Island Grill, so recently we caught up with the mastermind, partner Chef Bruno Deluche.
PP: Bruno, it’s great to see you again. We love so much of what you’re doing here at Guy Harvey’s Island Grill. But our favorite is your delicious commitment to the marine environment.
BD: Yes, we are one of the only restaurantsthat has Lionfish seven days a week. We buy them from the divers.
PP: As divers ourselves, we’re really glad you’re having so much so much success thinning out the Lionfish.
BD: Yes, they’re quite a treat to our marine environment. They gobble just about anything they can fit in their jaws and they reproduce too quickly too be wiped out. Encouraging restaurant customers to consume them is one way we can help to control their numbers. There’s a big demand for lionfish — lionfish tempura, blackened lionfish, lionfish ceviche.
PP: Actually our first taste of Lion-Fish was here at Guy Harvey’s. Really, really good! We love the delicious ways you prepare them.
BD: Some of our favorite preparations are Lion-Fish Chowder with Black Mussels or Blackened Lion-fish with white rice and vegetables.
PP: So delicious! You know, every time we visit Guy Harvey’s we find ourselves ordering one of your preparations of lionfish.
BD: Actually we were one of the first restaurants to serve lionfish, and will continue to. We love our job and we try to protect the planet as much as we can.
PP: That’s awesome. Fresh, local products have been your reputation at Guy Harvey’s Island Grill for years. Locals and passengers alike say that you are a perfectionist in picking out the fish you prepare...to the point that you uniquely mark your fish so you receive the actual fish you chose, and have even sent fish back! Why and how do you mark a fish?
BD: Selecting the highest quality seafood is critical for an excellent dining experience. I look at the fish’s eyes; they need to be very shiny. The skins should be hard, also I give a quick smell inside the belly to see if it was cleaned by the fisherman as soon it was caught.To mark the fish I’ve personally selected, I cut a unique shape into the fish’s fin so that when the fish are delivered I can be sure these fish are the same ones I chose that morning. Yes, sometimes I have sent fish back when they were not what I ordered. But that doesn’t happen as much anymore.
PP: Everyone notices the beautiful seafood display you have near the front door of your restaurant. It seems like a signature touch that only you do! What is the story behind this unique practice?
BD: Well the story is...early on, when I received fresh sea food or fish, I got so excited I wanted to share this with my friends and customers. So I used to bring them to the kitchen to show them. But as you can imagine, as we became more popular, that became impractical. So now, I make a fresh display on ice in the front to make my life a bit easier and faster. Many times when a guest orders one fresh lobster or fish, I send them to the front display to choose the one they’d like to eat. Also when it gets busy, if there is a little wait at the door, it’s more interesting when you can look at fish, especially for the kids.
PP: Delicious. Tell us more about the style and inspiration of your dishes.
BD: Our restaurant features a selection of popular West Indies and French entrees. All our seafood and other dishes are prepared fresh daily with the finest ingredients. In our menu you’ll find local catches of Wahoo, Tuna, Jack, Snapper, Butterfish, Lion fish and Dolphin fish as well as Lobster, Salmon, Oysters, Scallops and much more. Besides seafood, we offer mouth-watering versions of Duck, Pork Tenderloin, Steaks, Chicken and much more…all prepared in many different ways never before imagined – each dish is truly an original masterpiece! A well rounded assortment of appetizers and desserts complete the meal, in addition to a vast wine list including Guy Harvey’s own brands.
PP: Bruno, we know you’re excited about some great new changes and additions happening for you and Guy Harvey’s. Tell us about them.
BD: Well, the latest news is the opening of Stogies Cigar Lounge, downstairs next to Bar Crudo, set at the far corner of our building.
PP: We got to peek into Stogies during the day. A server unlocked it for us. It’s a beautiful lounge with a clubby feel. Leather seating, rich décor.
BD: Yes, during the day time hours we keep the room locked and without staff. We’ve stocked the lounge with a great collection of top Cuban cigars, particularly Cohibas (including the famous Behike).
PP: And the prices are as good as you’ll find in the region, too.
BD: We also serve over 100 selections of Caribbean Rums. It’s premier venue for relaxing, recharging and reveling in the middle or at the end of the day. Considering its privacy it is also a perfect alternative for a private business meeting day time upon request.
PP: Great addition! Then another big recent change was in 2014 when you opened Bar Crudo, downstairs from Guy Harvey’s Island Grill. Now downstairs is where the old Harley Davidson store was, right?
BD: Yes, they wanted to enlarge their store so they moved to a space in the same building, but just behind their original space, freeing up this waterfront location.
PP: Outstanding location! We noticed you now have a wide interior staircase connecting the two restaurants. Bar Crudo is an interesting name. Tell us about it.
BD: Crudo is Italian for “raw,” and the name is appropriate as a good number of items on the menu are raw, including sushi, ceviche, oysters, caviar and many other delicacies.
PP: Sounds delicious! But what if someone wants a hot meal?
BD: Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of raw, there are ample hot appetizers to choose from as well. You can sit down to a platter of seafood, fish fingers, mozzarella sticks, conch fritters, crab cakes and other mouthwatering entrees as you relax in Bar Crudo. And of course Guy Harvey’s Island Grill is right upstairs!
PP: When we visited you during Pirates Week, Bar Crudo was packed! Standing room only. Quite the popular place to be.
BD: We were exceptionally busy then. Being right at street level on the water-front, makes it one of the easiest spots to access in down town. But of course not every day is as crowded as during the Pirates Week festival. Now we’ve also opened up outdoor seating for Bar Crudo directly across the street on the water.
PP: Wow! What a great harbor view! Of course, Bar Crudo also serves up some refreshing drinks and wonderful atmosphere too.
BD: We have Cayman Islands Brewery brews on tap, including Caybrew, CayLight, Ironshore Bock and White Tip. We also offer seasonal beers to try, such as the 345 Stout. I’m really pleased with how nice the atmosphere is here. We already have attracted host of regulars who stop to enjoy a tall glass of cold beer and great conversation with friends. Then on Tuesday and Thursday nights we have live Ragae, blues and Jazz music.
PP: The variety of different delicious original dishes are a real credit to your chefs.
BD: Absolutely! In fact our chefs deserve congratulations for the awards they received in several categories in this year’s Annual Culinary Awards of Excellence. I really appreciate their hard work and am grateful for their team-work. We have a great team here. I’m really proud of them!
PP: Why is your Flavors of Cayman Sunday Brunch focused on Caymanian cuisine?
BD: I want our Caymanian Sunday brunch to be different than all the other places. Some people visiting want to try local food instead of the hotel brunch that is almost the same around the world.
PP: Bruno, where did the connection between you and Guy Harvey start?
BD: When I moved to the Cayman Islands, I met Dennis Hunter, who happened to be a neighbor of Dr. Guy Harvey. Guy asked my opinion of what it would take to create a restaurant, and from there Guy Harvey’s Island Grill was born! Having his gallery and painting studio next door was a perfect concept for our seafood restaurant. Good publicity for both of us...and his well known name helped me a lot!
PP: You are a Sea Sense compliant restaurant, what does that exactly mean?
BD: In keeping with the conservation mission of Dr. Guy Harvey, you’re right, our restaurant is Sea Sense compliant, serving only sustainable fish rather than putting added pressure on already depleted species. The Cayman Islands, like many cultures, has a strong maritime tradition, in which fish has been a staple food. However because of increasing demand worldwide, many popular species have been overexploited like swordfish, grouper, billfish and shark. By not serving these over fished species we want to contribute to the long term improvement of these fish stocks and to support Dr. Guy Harvey's cause in providing scientific information necessary to understand and protect the world’s fish resources and biodiversity from continued decline. So on our menu you won’t find grouper, sea bass, marlin, sailfish, or shark.
PP: Do you cook at home?
BD: When I’m home, I don’t cook. The only time I do, it’s to make BBQ. On my day off, the love of my life Silviya, cooks for me. She’s from Bulgaria and I love her eastern European-based cuisine.
PP: Do you think your sons Emanuel and Etienne will become future Chefs?
BD: I hope Emanuel and Etienne will stay away from the restaurant business so they will have more time to enjoy with their children, not like me.
PP: Besides your passion for cooking, what other things capture your heart?
BD: Besides cooking, I love my family, traveling, diving, motocross, boating and horseback riding. I’ve got two horses, Goliath, and also a baby foal, Kalhua.
PP: Do you fish recreationally?
BD: I do in my spare time, but I don’t catch much, but I love to go shore fishing. I catch a lot of baby fish.
PP: Bruno, tell us more about your background as a chef and what has influenced your cooking.
BD: I grew up in Condat-sur-Vienne in central France, and was greatly influenced by my grandmother, Jeanne, who perfected her dishes for numerous family and guests using just a pot over a fireplace and fresh ingredients from the farm. I worked in restaurants in France, New York and London, and at Les Chefs de France in Disney World’s Epcot Center, under the tutelage of three renowned French chefs before moving to the Cayman Islands.
PP: That’s impressive, but we know you weren’t trying to impress us. Bruno, sometimes those from France can get a bad rap as being typically aloof and impersonal. But, you couldn’t be more the opposite. You’re one of the most down to earth, warm, humble people we’ve met here. We love your warm, self-effacing personality. It seems that this personable feel has really infected your staff. They greet you warmly and seem to have smiles on their faces continuously.
BD: Well, thank you. You’re too kind. Most of our staff have been here since inception and are happy to work here, people can see it on their faces and taste it in our food.
PP: Folks, don’t miss the experiences of Guy Harvey’s Island Grill, Bar Crudo and Stogies Cigar Lounge. They are open every day with different promotions. ½ off Happy Hour is from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Check out their $9.99 daily dinner specials, as well as their $30.00 four course dinner menu.
55 S. South Church Street
George Town, Grand Cayman