If you’re in Grand Cayman, you really should head out to the east end of the island and stop at the Big Tree Barbecue. It’s a delightful place, and you can eat well there. The Big Tree was rated # 2 among all restaurants in Grand Cayman on Trip Advisor, well ahead of star turns like Eric Ripert’s Blue, with its average entree at $119, according to my Fodor’s guide.
We were in Grand Cayman because Ella was turning 15 months old, and we figured it was time for her to start learning about tax dodges. We always like to tour around islands, and we also like to try new barbecue places. So we headed east from Seven Mile Beach to the Big Tree.
It’s on the main road, and you can’t miss it.
It’s not a fancy place, just some grills, some tables and chairs, and some good food, all out of doors under that big tree.
The Big Tree is run by Henry Harris and his son Arvin. The Big Tree is in their front yard, and Henry is the inside man, cooking the lobster, Cayman beef, and the like indoors, while Arvin works the grill and serves the food. Here’s Arvin, showing off the beef ribs.
There’s a blackboard menu.
See “Swanky” down next to the bottom? That’s basically an Arnold Palmer — iced tea and lemonade — with a good dose of ginger. It is delicious. Be sure to get some. (You also can bring your own adult beverages.) On Sundays, the menu changes, and there is a special seafood feast, with local turtle, conch, shrimp, and fish. It sounds great.
I ordered the ribs, which were cooked over mesquite charcoal.
These were well cooked, tender but not mushy — al dente, as they should be. They came sauced, and the sauce was sweeter than I like (regular readers will know that I am something of a bear on sugar), but with balancing heat from scotch bonnet peppers. (That combination of heat and sweet is common in Grand Cayman.) The ribs came with some good slaw, a bit of corn, rice and beans, and some non-traditional cornbread, a sweetish bread with ginger. It was interesting and tasty. All in all, a very good meal at a very good price.
Nancy had the grilled lobster, which was split and cooked with local spices. Nice, with a squeeze of lime and some melted butter. Don’t the plantains look good?
But the star of the show was the Cayman style beef that Liza ordered. It isn’t barbecue, but more of a pot au feu, slow cooked with onions and scotch bonnet peppers and this and that, then shredded and chopped. Oh my goodness! Very tasty.
We decided not to treat Ella to the scotch bonnet experience, but overall she gave the Big Tree a thumbs up.
It’s hard to imagine a more friendly and relaxed place. Seven Mile Beach is pretty friendly and relaxed, but the Big Tree makes it look like Manhattan. You should stop there for lunch (the mosquitos prevent dinner service), and then head on around to Starfish Beach, which is great for the little ones to wade among the large starfish. And say “Hi” to Arvin and Henry for us.
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