(CNS Foodie): Vivo, West Bay’s only health-conscious café with vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options is fortunate to offer a stunning ocean view out on North West Point. Located in the Lighthouse Point building, next to Dive Tech, you can come for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even just a fresh juice or sunset cocktail. They have enough seating outside for approximately 24 patrons and have a few tables inside, but it tends to be very hot in there; the doors and windows are open but with the kitchen so close, it’s hard to stay cool. We’ve been to Vivo on a few occasions, for breakfast and lunch so we decided to try it out for dinner.
The special appetizer was a lionfish ceviche ($9) and we couldn’t resist the ever so popular coconut ceviche ($9), so we ordered that as well. As I mentioned, we’ve come here before and the coconut ceviche has been something to draw us back to Vivo. This time, we were underwhelmed and, frankly, a bit disappointed. The dish lacked seasoning, didn’t have any spicy nuts as indicated on the menu and just fell flat, which was so surprising because it’s never been a disappointment to us.
The lionfish ceviche was prepared with onions, tomato, thinly sliced cucumber, cilantro and lime juice — all the basics for a classic ceviche … except the lionfish was not fresh at all; it was very fishy. Lionfish is an extremely light and mild fish and should never taste fishy.
So far, not so good. On the upside, Vivo has a great happy hour with half-price beer, wine and cocktails and $5 small plate appetizers like a bruschetta (3-6pm). I had a glass of happy hour wine ($4) and my friend had a fresh mango, ginger and carrot juice, which was fantastic, refreshing with the most vibrant, beautiful orange color I’ve ever seen in a juice ($7). Gotta love Cayman mango season!
For mains, we ordered the vegan curry and the Sunday roast, along with a side Vivo salad, which should consist of fresh market and seasonal ingredients, coconut bacon, spicy nuts in a light olive oil dressing. The curry and “roast” came out but the salad was forgotten. To rectify the wait for the salad, they made us a full portion salad instead of the side as originally requested — a nice gesture which we appreciated.
The salad was simple, yet delicious and satisfying. The vegan curry was full of life in the spice and sauce department but I found it odd that it only consisted of potatoes (which were undercooked), dumplings and peas. With all the raving about using local ingredients, how could there not be any other vegetables in a vegan curry, especially for CI$16? That’s a bit excessive. It doesn’t take a chef to calculate the food cost of that meal. I attend the Wednesday Farmers Market every week; why couldn’t we see some eggplant, okra or local peppers in the curry? It wasn’t bad, it just seems that for $16 the curry should have something other than starches and peas.
The Sunday ‘roast’ was a fabulous and filling loaf of lentil, herbs and mushroom topped with a mushroom gravy, cashew cheese and tomato chutney. It was accompanied with Vivo’s sautéed moringa potatoes and chili garlic wilted greens ($18). I realise that when you try to use all organic products you will charge more, and I’m totally fine with that, but if you go to other good restaurants that offer vegan/vegetarian cuisine, you’ll get more for your money when paying CI$18.
The portions for the Vivo entrées were generous enough to allow for a small leftover snack the next day. However, more care needs to be spent on the details, such as the seasoning — some of our dishes were lackluster. The menu says spicy nuts in the coconut ceviche; we didn’t get those. The menu also states the salad comes with coconut bacon and we did not get that, only lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, apple and spicy cashews. When you’re paying CI$80 for two people to have dinner with only one juice and one happy hour cocktail, you should get what you pay for … at the very least, what is indicated on the menu.
It’s hard for me to rate Vivo solely on this experience, as I’ve always left here feeling full and satisfied. If I were to rate it on past experiences, there would be more golden spoons for Value For Money. The staff is friendly and professional, and I’m happy they purchased an industrial sized fan to cool off patrons, because although the view is magnificent, it’s pretty uncomfortable in the summer sizzle Cayman brings.
We will continue to frequent Vivo. Their ‘farm to table’ concept is a great support system for our island, the local farmers and suppliers. Their mission “to serve natural, healthy and delicious food prepared with passion and positive energy” is evident, but don’t let the details slip just because you’re rated “Number 1 on Trip Advisor”.
I will be back to see if the coconut ceviche is back on track, since it’s a signature dish. I certainly hope it’s “Vivo” (to live; to be alive).