Graycliff Restaurant prides itself on its fine dining experience – and just last week the restaurant that has been serving delicious and distinctive cuisine since 1973 was named Best Restaurant in the Caribbean on USA Today’s 10Best.com, a title that is selected by popular vote. All this aside, Graycliff proprietor Enrico Garzaroli knows that to retain his position of excellence, an influx of new ideas with a fresh presentation to his menu is needed from time-to-time – and he seeks to do just that.
His most recent shot – the introduction of Roman-born Chef Alessandro Battisti who has blood influences between Italy and Europe to the Graycliff kitchens to collaborate with the restaurant’s chefs for special European and Caribbean menus that they have been offering for the past five weeks.
Case-in-point, a selection of recent specials by Battisti on one evening showcased Spanish octopus a la plancha with soy-marinated eggplant, sweet potatoes and homemade giardiniera vegetables; Graycliff coffee-coated petit chateaubriand with passion fruit mayonnaise, banana and coconut chips; dry sea scallops cooked in vanilla bean butter with Iranian saffron sauce, fresh green onions and purple potatoes; and a sous vide sage seabass with Roman amatriciana sauce and brunoise of Granny Smith apples.
A week later, a subsequent special menu showcased pappardelle with pulled beef, wild shrimp and grouper ceviche.
Along with the specials, people who love Graycliff’s classic best sellers can feel free to go with their tried and true favorites, or mix-and-match with Battisti specials. The idea is to see what works and incorporate them into the menu to keep Graycliff’s competitive cuisine, especially with the new restaurants opening and the big-name chefs coming in.
“Graycliff needed to be refreshed. We are not going to go crazy, we are going to keep it very classic, but very [jazzed up] … so basically lighter foods, better presentation, different methods of cooking,” said Garzaroli. “Everyone needs a shot in the arm.”
This shot has seen Battisti pushing the envelope to the point of doing things like a mahi mahi skin chip, a coffee-crusted mahi mahi and even veal tongue. Garzaroli pushes Battisti when he’s in the kitchen to think about aspects of the Bahamian climate – sun, rain, storm, black, white – and to reflect that in his composed dishes.
“We have sharp contrasts, so the same thing has to be reflected in the food,” said Garzaroli, who also encourages the chef to not be afraid to use spice and heat.
Battisti said he sits down with Garzaroli every day and they discuss ways to refresh and ensure striking presentations that will appeal to Graycliff’s loyal customers, and the millennial crowd as well.
And the chef who says he grew up in the kitchen with his grandmother, who imparted her love for culinary to him, is excited that Graycliff gives him amazing ingredients to work with. From as early as age five he said he started to understand flavor profiles. He credits her with his understanding of tradition and base.
“With the tradition you have the base, with the base you can do whatever you want.”
In producing his special menu offerings the chef says he has his pick of the best meat, fish and vegetables with which to mesh European and Bahamian for his fusion plates. And he incorporates technique to wow diners into the plate that is set before guests.
The one local ingredient he’s found himself graduating to is the plantain, which he became familiar with when he worked in the Dominican Republic, and he also likes snout-to-tail dining, including the tongue and kidneys.
“I love everything. I love food, so that’s why I love to travel, to search to understand the culture,” he said.
And if Battisti has his way, you can also expect to see quail, pheasant, partridge and even a rabbit or two on the Graycliff menu. But Garzaroli, who is hard to impress, said presentations with local fish will be just as important.
According to Garzaroli, with Battisti, Graycliff is doing new things that will surprise people.
“If you forgot our dishes, but if you want to have something of the new wave, try some of the specials so you will have an idea of what we are doing and creating and moving towards,” he said.