A Job Well Done
Next month Copper Falls Steakhouse celebrates its second anniversary as one of Cayman’s premier and most popular eateries. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull samples a slice of this unique restaurant to understand why its clientele keep coming back for more.
Well, dinner might have been splendid…If the Champagne had been as cold as
Nowadays diners are looking for more than just a nice meal out; they want a complete dining experience that transcends every day life and transports them to a place that they can escape to and revel in, if for just a few hours. Copper Falls, run by Frank Fleiger and Dianne Parsons manages to do just that, with a well thought out rustic contemporary decor, intelligent menu and a wine list that will keep you browsing for some time.
Frank underscores the effort that went into creating Copper Falls when he says the restaurant was actually two years in the making. He explains where the ‘Copper Falls’ theme that permeates the restaurant originated, “I was browsing the Internet and came upon a site which sold beautiful copper waterfalls as centre pieces. I realised straight away that I had hit upon the design base for our steakhouse and we therefore created the restaurant around that theme.”
Combining two separate and distinct design elements – rustic and contemporary – in the decor and finishings has created a warm, comfortable but sophisticated dining environment that is split into two and joined by a serving area in the middle. The walls have a rough, textured feel and 100 year old Douglas fir has been used to create high-backed booths covered with suede for a touch of rustic luxury, while unique pieces of hand-painted copper art work add to the contemporary feel. The bar area is particularly noteworthy, combing more Douglas fir with copper piping that has been cleverly turned into glass holders, lining the top of the bar. Even the bathrooms are decorated in theme, with copper sinks making an elegant statement, as do the restaurant’s copper water jugs.
Long-time residents in particular should take note of the original Seventies chandeliers that adorn the ceiling that were lovingly restored after lying discarded. See if you can guess from which now departed establishment they were reclaimed (answers at the foot of this article). The kitchen doors were also reclaimed the same way.
And of course the restaurant has three copper water falls that make a restful and elegant centerpiece decoration.
Bringing the comfortable ambiance to life are the restaurants skillfully unobtrusive yet attentive wait staff - Radamez Tognazzo, Herman Salonga, Susan Dennis, Tracy McCune, Pino Lorusso and bartender Sergio Rodiles.
The menu is original and unique, as Frank explains, “Our menu took a long time to put together as we wanted everything to be done just right from the very beginning. Everything is freshly cooked from scratch and each dish has its own unique style.”
The appetiser menu is small, but perfectly formed. Choose from a rich, filling and full-of-flavour Baked French Onion Soup or a Lobster Bisque or a selection of salads including the Copper Falls Garden Salad or the popular Spinach Salad served with a warm bacon dressing and sprinkled with feta cheese.
Frank describes the care the restaurant takes in its preparation of its food, especially its beef, “All our steaks are aged for 28 days. We take delivery of the meat at about 2pm each day and then it is the chef’s job to hand-cut the meat into serving proportions. So if you are looking for a steak that is even bigger than our largest steak on the menu (28oz Porterhouse) you need to call us before the chef begins cutting!”
Steak is served at Copper Falls in its purest form – seasoned only with salt and freshly ground pepper, with all sauces (except for the Steak Dianne) served on the side, so customers decide on just how much flavouring they want to add.
Importantly, the menu price for each main includes much more than just the meat, as Frank explains, “We want our guests to have the opportunity to design their own meal so all our steaks and entrees include a martini, highball or beer, a starch side, a vegetable side and one side sauce (steak only).”
Frank says offering diners a choice of drink that is included in the menu is a great way to help them begin the escapism process so they can spend an enjoyable time browsing the menu and the wine list with one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails or monthly martini special.
When the price of a martini, a vegetable and starch side, as well as a steak sauce is deducted form the menu price you quickly realise that your steak is extremely good value for money. Steaks come in a variety of cuts and sizes, including a 12oz Sirloin for CI$20.95 and a 12oz Copper Falls Steak Dianne (named after the restaurant’s co-owner), which comes with a brandy-mushroom cream sauce at CI$22.95. There are two sizes of Filet Mignon - 8oz at CI$34.95 and 12oz at CI$46.95. So, if you take the 8oz Filet Mignon, for example at CI$34.95, deduct a martini for say, CI$8, deduct a vegetable dish for around CI$5, a starch for about CI$5 and a sauce for a couple of dollars you are left with a Filet Mignon costing around CI$14.95, which is not bad at all.
Every Sunday and Monday night the restaurant offers a Prime Rib Special, if that’s your preferred cut of choice. As a steakhouse, the restaurant features a good supply of beef, however there is plenty on the menu for the non-beef lover. The 12oz Rack of Lamb, served with a merlot reduction sauce at CI$34.95 is a must and absolutely requires you to pick up the bones for a good old gnaw. Then there is also the 12oz Pork Chop with homemade applesauce at the incredibly reasonable price of CI$17.95 (don’t forget, a drink and two sides are also included here) and the popular Copper Falls Chicken, topped with lobster and asparagus and served with mushroom sauce at CI$21.95. There are also some excellent fish and pasta dishes to add to the varied menu. If you possibly have room for dessert there is a good selection to choose from, including a Vanilla Crème Brulée and a Turtle Chocolate Brownie, as well as homemade Cheesecake and fresh Apple Crumble.
I drink it when I’m happy and drink it when I’m sad.
Even if you never touch the stuff, you ought to read the wine list for its quirky sayings and statements that punctuate the pages and pages of delicious wines. The wine list has been designed by Carrie Stein and Sergio Serrano of Jacques Scott, and in conjunction with Frank, these two wine consultant sommeliers have gone to great effort to produce an incredibly user-friendly list of wines that have full and detailed descriptions of each bottle to aid in your choice. There are varietals, domains and prices to suit all tastes and wallets. The whites include the evocative Feudi Di San Gregorio Falanghina 2003 from Italy, with its wonderful aromas of melon and honey, at a highly reasonable CI$35.95 a bottle, or the rich and buttery Cakebread Chardonnay from California’s Napa Valley (CI$69.95 a bottle). The reds include a number of highly internationally accredited wines, including the vibrant and intense Estancia Meritage 2000 from California’s Alexander Valley (CI$59.95) with a Wine Enthusiast rating of 91 points and the rich and complex Opus One 2002 from the Napa Valley, a bit more pricey at CI$289.95 a bottle but it comes with a Robert Parker rating of 89 points.
Copper Falls is a restaurant which has succeeded in bringing its customers the perfect blend of delicious food, varied wines and comfortable ambiance that will make you rethink any preconceived ideas you may have about what a steakhouse is all about.
All I want in life is good steak, good wine and a bad boy.
The restaurant’s second anniversary takes place on 4 April, 2007 and in celebration Frank and Dianne will be offering 10% off the entire bill that evening as a thank you to all their valued customers.
(The Seventies chandeliers were obtained from the old Holiday Inn.)
Copper Falls Steakhouse, Grand Cayman Restaurants