Passenger Pick of the Month
Restaurant & Wine Bar
Situated on the waterfront on North Church Street with a spectacular view of George Town harbor, the Lobster Pot restaurant has long been a favorite of locals and visitors alike. As this month’s Passenger Pick of the Month, we wanted to learn more about the story behind the Lobster Pot, so recently we caught up with restaurant general manager Jens Pankalla.
PP: Jens, how long has the restaurant been in existence?
JP: The Lobster Pot was established in 1965 and is the longest established restaurant on the Island. Operated by the same family for over 30 years, we have become a landmark that has gained legendary status as one of the most popular and highly cherished restaurants.
PP: Wow, 50 years! What a legacy! That is so impressive. Your restaurant is one of our passengers’ favorites. They talk about it with great fondness, not only for the great food, but also for their wonderful memories over the years.
JP: Yes, in fact we are celebrating our 50 Year Anniversary this year and you can be sure that we’re doing so in style. So watch out what’s all to come.
PP: We will. We understand you were video interviewed recently.
JP: Yes, back in July Cayman.com interviewed me here. They did a good job. HTTPS://www.Facebook.com/caymancom/videos/644341928999555/
PP: That was great! Tell us about your new deck.
JP: The new deck is absolutely fabulous and we are so proud having made that addition to the restaurant during the renovation. The views are spectacular and being situated on the second floor assures a beautiful breeze throughout the year. The new deck has been such a hit with our guests and we look forward to many more dinner nights under the beautiful moon and star lit skies.
PP: You mentioned the renovation, the result of a terrible event that eventually brought the wonderful new deck and a lot more. Tell us about it.
JP: Well, I wasn’t the Manager back then, a friend of mine, Gunter Gosch was. So I’ll tell you the story from his perspective. It was Thanksgiving 2011, and the building caught fire on the afternoon of November 24th. At the time, owner Marcus Cumber said he wanted the restaurant to be back and running as soon as possible. We naively initially targeted a re-opening date of around Christmas. We were pushed back again and again as planning requirements for the needed roof replacement and renovation went through the approval process. We didn’t get the green light to begin actual construction on the building until January 2013. We had no idea it would take so long.
PP: We remember many conversations with Gunter during that time. He was incredibly patient and worked so hard bringing the restaurant through the prolonged renovation process and back on-line.
JP: He sure did. And did a great job! The restaurant has been upgraded substantially including changes to the interior layout, new decor and the new seaside 1,100 square foot balcony. So we finally were able to open up in June 2013, over a year and a half later.
PP: It really is wonderful. Every seat on the deck offers a panoramic view of the sea, passing ships and local fishermen returning to clean their catch by the dock. And we understand that this same dock is where your chef gets his daily catch. Tell us more about that and some of your entrées.
JP: You’re exactly right. Fresh fish has a whole new meaning at the Lobster Pot! With decades of proven recipes we have created many highly regarded signature dishes. The local 'catch-of-the-day' favorites include the Sesame Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Red Snapper with Almonds & Sauteed Bananas, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and of course, the Lobster! A must-try is our Cayman Trio, Broiled Lobster Tail, Grilled Mahi Mahi and Garlic Shrimp, or our 'Pot' which is a delicious fusion of lobster, giant prawns and crab. The prime Black Angus Beef or the Turtle Steak are other great options. And then there’s our unique version of Conch Fritters.
PP: Sounds absolutely delicious. Your wine collection is superb too. Who chooses the wines and where to you get most of the Vintages?
JP: Most of the current wine list is thanks to Gunter, our past Manager who regrettably decided that it was time to move back to Europe after being part of the Lobster Pot’s success for the past 12 years. Of course I have given our current wine list my own touch throughout the year and will continue on striving to make it as versatile and interesting to our customers as possible.
PP: Tell us about your best signature drinks from your new bar.
JP: Well, several of our own creations come to mind. Looking at our drink list you will find names like “Ivan the Terrible”, “Screaming Turtle” and “Captain Jack Sparrow” only to mention a few.
PP: Tell us more about your staff.
JP: Due to the year and a half dormant time from the fire until we reopened, significant staff turnover was unavoidable. The restaurant has about 15 employees. The customer-facing front of house staff are all new, but the core kitchen staff have been maintained. We have an outstanding staff. I’m very proud of them.
PP: Do you have the same Chefs?
JP: Our Executive Chef is Jean-Philippe Gorley.
PP: Tell us a bit about him.
JP: He was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, pretty much grew up in kitchens. His mother had a couple restaurants, a bakery and a pastry shop. His father was a true foodie, wine fanatic with a passion for cooking as well. During high school, he was working as an apprentice in a 5 diamond restaurant. A few years later, after completing Culinary School, he found his way to the 3 Star Michelin Chef Frederic Filliodeau at the restaurant Le Signature by Le Cordon Bleu Paris, Ottawa, learning top of the line French Classic fine dining. Afterwards he made his way to the islands of Turks and Caicos where he had his first taste of the sun and beach of the Caribbean. Then it was Europe for several years: Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France and Germany, learning all types of cuisines and techniques from some of the greatest chefs. Then it was off to Asia, Thailand, Singapore, even a year in Australia, and then Japan for 5 years where he was Corporate Executive Chef for a major high end international catering establishment, overseeing the operation of seven kitchens in 5 different cities, a crew of over 70 and up to 2000 meals a day. With his high knowledge of classic European cuisine, Asian influenced flavors and modern food trends, keep an eye out at the Lobster Pot, like these wonderful Tempura Lobster Tacos with Sweet Chili Mango.
PP: So we heard that you hosted the Miss Cayman Islands contestants a few weeks ago. Tough duty, huh?
JP: We did. It was a great day. Beautiful young ladies.
PP: Tell us about it.
JP: The Miss Cayman Islands contestants were exposed to fine-dining etiquette training at the Lobster Pot in August. We sponsored the event for the Miss Cayman Islands pageant and trainers, during which the ladies were tutored by Protocol Coordinator Meloney Syms on what customs and table manners that would be appropriate for a future ambassador – or for any dining experience. During the four-course meal the ladies demonstrated the practical side in areas ranging from silverware choices to making formal toasts. We are very proud that Lobster Pot was the host of this venue and we wish all contestants all the best in any of their future endeavors.
PP: Folks, the new Lobster Pot is really outstanding. Enjoy the fresh new menu as well as some old favorites and pay them a visit soon! You can complement any of their delicious dishes with one of the wines from their very well-selected wine list. Lobster Pot's warm and cozy Wine Bar also means you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink or cocktail, or settle in at the bar for the evening and sample a signature dish. This is a don’t miss opportunity.
Lobster Pot Restaurant & Wine Bar
245 N. Church Street
George Town, KY 1-1107