Cayman Restaurants - Chef of the Month

Cayman Restaurants - Chef of the Month G. "Barefoot Man" Novak

I recall 20 years ago, sitting on my deck along the shores of Frank Sound, I noticed this tall thin fellow dragging a giant tree stump through shallow waters. Later, I saw him with a sack full of conch shells, bits of old rope and a mangled worthless fish net. I had to inquire of him what he was doing. In a German accent as thick as East End conch chowder he responded, “I’m going to be opening a new restaurant down the road.” I laughed to myself and thought, with all the restaurants in town, who was going to drive all the way to Breakers for a meal? A few months later, Chef Roland Schoefer opened the Lighthouse Restaurant to a packed house... with many more packed nights to follow.

The giant tree stump was cut into layers, sanded, varnished and transformed into unique dining room tables. The rope and fishnet were hung from the ceilings and the conch shells were stuffed with local Hibiscus flowers. Roland was a genius at creating an ‘Island style’ atmosphere. He feels that great ambiance and good food go hand in hand. Not only does Roland have a special vision when it comes to decor, his kitchen creations are equally famous island wide. We all remember those creamy mushroom appetizers served in a hot skillet direct from the oven, or the magic he can create with whelk, conch and other local seafood. The roulade (beef roll), spaetzle, bratwurst and German potato salads. Remember them?

Cayman Restaurants - Chef of the MonthAfter several moves over the years, Roland is back at a new location in ‘Cottage’, Frank Sound. This time he’s outdone himself with atmosphere. You sit under beach umbrellas in his lush garden while birds and geckos chirp along to the soft background music. There are old ropes, nautical lanterns and anchors mixed in with rustic furniture. There is no fancy menu but there is the personal touch Roland is famous for. Chef Roland simply sits at your table, clothed in his signature apron and ‘t’-shirt and with hand movements and much-improved English, he describes what’s available on that day. You’ll hear about the spices, the juices, the sauces, and the cheeses and anything in between. He advises diners ahead of time to bring their own booze as he does not have a liquor license. Wine glasses and beer mugs are provided at no charge.

However, the best part of the evening comes when it’s time to pay. What kind of price range are we talking about at Roland’s Garden? When I asked for my bill, Roland politely pointed towards a wooden salad bowl at the exit. “There,” he said, “you drop your cash in the bowl and pay me whatever you think your evening was worth.” Now there’s a new angle. No itemized bill, no credit cards, no 15% gratuity, no surprises— simply pay for what you think your meal was worth.

For more information on the menu and location, Roland says call him personally at 946-2500.