I was so honored to be a guest of Luca Restaurant and Luxury Condo Hotel Caribbean Club at their Sunday brunch last weekend, and as always, they did not disappoint. Far from it! I left asking myself why brunches aren't a part of my weekly schedule.
Luca Restaurant is known for offering some of the highest quality food and drink for a reasonable price. In fact, a quick poll of some of my fellow brunch lovers tells me that Luca is among the top in Grand Cayman. With so many options on the island, it can be hard to narrow down your choices. It is widely known that just because it's more affordable than some of the other brunches on the island, it isn't for lack of quality. If you've got an empty stomach and a taste for prosecco, Luca has got the best bang for your buck.
Where to even begin?
I arrived early so I would have the time to photograph all of the food before the rest of the guests arrived, and had to turn the other cheek when my shoulder devil encouraged me to reach over and snag a deviled egg or a scoop of fresh tuna tartare before the brunch was officially declared “open.” Tray after tray of the most drool-worthy dishes would come out of the kitchen as I tried my best to focus on my work and not on my growling belly. I was, after all, there to show the rest of the world just why this is one of the best places to be on a Sunday afternoon in Grand Cayman. First and foremost, anyway.
You see, Luca consistently performs. That's why much of their guest list includes both locals and regular visitors that appreciate the perfection that is their brunch. While I am always psyched to see what new items the chef is incorporating on any given Sunday, I already know which ‘regular' dishes I plan to indulge in as well, such as the lamb chops and the beef wellington from the carving station and the made-to-order pasta bowls. And that's long before the dessert station. I kid you not when I say that if you're truly planning on ‘going hard,' you should go with a completely empty stomach and the expectation of tasting rather than devouring. I'm talking multiple plates. Sounds loco, but hear me out.
Sunday Brunch is truly an event here in Grand Cayman. We plan out brunch dates, weeks, even months in advance with such anticipation. Guests arrive in their Sunday best and most come with the intent of seeing the event through, from the hour it opens to the hour the bottles stop flowing. Many arrive with the expectation of unexpectedly bumping into friends and acquaintances because, well, it is a small island. It's a social of the best kind! We love it so much that we had our wedding rehearsal at Luca last year, Brunch style! This included many of our favorite small bites as well as a large sampling of mini desserts.
Upon arrival, there is an undeniable feeling of excitement (and hunger) as the valet sweeps away your vehicle and the gracious staff greets each guest with a knowing smile. You have arrived! We were treated to an outdoor table overlooking the always splendid view of Seven Mile Beach. At Luca, you may choose to sit indoors or outdoors, but most opt for the latter because it's actually quite comfortable, especially in the Winter months. The outdoor seating area is not only covered but is well circulated as there are a bevy of non-intrusive ceiling fans that keep it quite cool.
We were seated with Juan, whom I have had the pleasure of experiencing before. Incredibly pleasant, happy to take your photograph, ready and willing to answer any questions, and, of course, on standby with that all-important bottle of prosecco. Done with your first, second or third plate of food? Cleared within moments. Want a little something extra, like a coffee or a Bloody Mary? Done!
Luca's always pleasant servers make their rounds throughout the 3-hour event topping off your bottomless mimosa without question. Seriously, there is no need to call their attention for a refill because they've spotted your empty (or partially empty) glass from a mile away and are already mapping out their next visit to your table. All set? No problem, but they will still make sure you are taken care of. I have been to a handful of other brunches in my lifetime and none of them stay on top of your glass as well as Luca Restaurant. You truly feel like you are getting your money's worth, whereas at other restaurants, you find yourself eyeballing the server and hoping that they see the desperate, thirsty look on your face. Joking, kind of.
Word of advice: when you're asked what time you want to be seated, request the earliest time available! This is an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink experience and if planned right, you can eat in waves! You will most definitely leave stuffed, but the food and experience is all so worth it. While you should plan to taste in small bites, as mentioned previously, you will inevitably overindulge because there are simply so many delicious options to choose from. Best to start early, take a break and dive back in when you're ready.
The beauty of brunch at Luca is that the food is presented in small-bite portions, so you aren't forced to commit to too much of something that you may be trying for the first time. There are breakfast and lunch options of all kinds, without any pressure to begin in one particular area. There is truly something for everyone. The essence of brunch, really.
For breakfast, you can always count on the standard bacon, scrambled eggs, sausage, a variety of eggs Benedict, quiche, pancakes, waffles and muffins. Despite any plans I make in my mind to switch up my routine, I inevitably go here first. There is something about it being the first meal of the day that always gravitates me toward breakfast items, even if it is just a little!
After the first wave of breakfast, I do my best to mosey on over to the fruit and salad tables so I feel like I am at least making a small effort to get some greens in my body – not that the rest of the dishes are unhealthy – far from it! But you know that the mind loves to play tricks, so I play along. The marinated vegetables are always quite delicious, along with little nibbles like Caprese Salad, Tuna Spring Rolls, Chicken and Veggie Dumplings, Beef Carpaccio and much more.
You could truly almost make an entire meal out of these little bites!
Work your way down the end of the breakfast line and you'll be looking at a variety of mini dinner style dishes; this time including fish and chips, salmon and veggies, scalloped potatoes, melt-in-your-mouth short ribs and more. These dishes are absolutely mouthwatering, but bear in mind that they are rather generous portions, comparatively speaking. Choose wisely and consider sharing with a friend! You can always go back for more (woohoo!).
Onto what is arguably the most popular station in the restaurant… the raw bar. If you are going to go to brunch in Grand Cayman… you'd be foolish to avoid this section (unless, of course you have a legitimate reason like an allergy). Here, you will find a variety of Ceviche salads, Shrimp Cocktail, Oysters, Tuna Tartare, Salmon Tartare, you name it!
Moving to Grand Cayman has truly opened my eyes to seafood. If you've been following my blog, you may already know that I was not always a fish eater. I hardly ventured into the “safe territory” of well-done salmons and white fish until I really got settled here and broadened my horizons.
At this particular brunch, I surprised myself with my seafood plate, opting for more raw fish than I ever have. Luca's raw bar is just so fresh and well-prepared that you could make just about anyone a convert. My favorite tastings had to be the Mahi Mahi Ceviche as well as the Snapper Ceviche – I went back for seconds!
But don't forget the sushi. You CANNOT forget the sushi. These plates are restocked throughout the day, but I highly recommend making the sushi station one of your first stops. You will find that guests flock to these trays, and I'm sure you can see why! This display is any sushi lover's dream. Each roll is so beautifully and meticulously prepared – almost too pretty to eat! But boy, did we eat.
Complete your brunch with the decadent cheese and dessert section. I'd be lying if I said that I haven't started from the end and worked my way to the beginning before. The cheese and dessert bars are located just outside the entryway of the restaurant in the lobby of the Caribbean Club. Here you will find so many dessert options that you will have an incredibly hard time choosing just one. But why should you? Carrot cake, tiramisu, bread pudding, even fresh berries with chocolate – you will not be left without choices!
Load up a plate of mini treats, snag a few bites of cheese, and if you'd like, pair it with a nice glass of red wine. If I had to pick just one dessert to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Luca's Crème Brûlée – it is INSANE.
Whether you are an islander yourself or visiting Grand Cayman, Luca Restaurant is the place to be for Sunday Brunch! If you're looking to enjoy one of the most delicious and memorable meals you will ever have, accompanied by lots of laughs with your friends and loved ones, you are truly in for one of the most pleasant Sunday afternoons here on island. It is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic afternoon with your significant other, a fun day with a group of girlfriends, or even to celebrate an occasion!
Thank you so much to staff and management at Luca Restaurant for having me! Opinions, as always, are 100% honest and my own.