ARUBA- A Report
Just back from a week in this tropical paradise and the basic message, beautiful restaurants with extraordinarily friendly service with food that is expensive, should be as most is imported, and while pleasant, not top notch food. These short reviews will be not dish reviewed just general and the only proviso is that at the places dined at, beef was terrible, sliced before cooking and seemed almost steamed, even for chateaubriand. All meals are dinners for 2 with tip included, and no breakfasts/lunchs are mentioned as these were all for the sea and view, etc. Watch yourself on tips, as 15% seems customary but about half the places add automatically, and the other half add a smaller percentage or none at all.
Pizza Bob's-What a pleasant surprise, crisp, very hot, cooked to order pizza with the Balachi beer of the island in draft, tougher to find than thought. While not Lucali's was perfect for the moment.
Red Parrot-A sunset restaurant in the Divi resorts that was truly terrible, sunset was great. Service was fine, better than fine, but was virtually inedible, nothing was even half finished.
Pam Pam-East of Palm Beach, set beneath a huge thatched roof, we were there for Valentine's Day and it was a good choice, romantic, decent food, and a very friendly atmosphere.
Papiamentos-East of Palm Beach by about two miles This word is the national language of Aruba and a well reviewed restaurant. While expensive, it has the best wine list l saw on the island, pricey but best. The restaurant is large with over 100 seats and set under ancient ficus trees. It is gorgeous. There were a few gaffs of service and the food while quite expensive was OK. Still a really lovely evening at a very lovely site.
Windows over Aruba-Set in the Divi golf resort with a good view over the ocean, this looked a lot like a Las Vegas wannabee. Two major gaffs here, delivered the wrong wine by the glass, and said we were wrong but eventually made it right, and the $ 69 chateaubriand for two was presliced and steamed to be served with three bad sauces, the colors did not even match the grey meat. We were also seated next to a family party where flash photography was the fashion and l feel fortunate a Grand Mal seizure did not occur.
Smokey Joe's-Sort of a southern rib place with benches with back, simple beers and huge portions of food for very decent prices. Was it Lockhart, Texas, no but it was fun and we ate a hell of a lot. Cole slaw was very good and they had a side of bacon, onions, and potatoes that was one of best things on island. Service was yet again wonderful, the waiter was so happy in what he was doing and whatever we wished he made happen quite effortlessly.
Soenchi-On the Palm Beach strip, another pretty restaurant serving Aruban cuisine. Had the best Keshi yena of the three l tried, Papiamentos was the worst of the keshi yena. Very empty place with the first service where they did not work to please you in every way.
A few notes, meant to try Gasparitos, the Queen, and Madame Jeanette. Madame Jeanette we tried to reserve for any and every night there but other than 5:30 was full each time.
We have been there 4 or 5 times. Madame Jeanette's is not to be missed, one of our favorites. I would advise making reservations before you travel. We also like El Gaucho for Steak, The Driftwood for fresh fish. Chalet Swiss is pretty Good. Chez Matilida reviewed well but never made it there. The Lighthouse is OK Italian, but you really go for the view at Sunset.
A place called Carte Blanche opened up in Aruba about 8-9 months back. No menu, the chef prepares a 5 course meal for you and, as he is cooking, he asks about allergies, likes, dislikes, etc. He also has one partner who serves the wines. The place only seats 14 people, and they're taking reservations months in advance. The bill was approximately $150 per person, including tip, for the 5 courses plus wine pairing. We were there for almost five hours. I can't even imagine what it would have been in Boston. Went in March, absolutely loved it, and I have a reservation there next week. Can't wait!!
re: Cathy in Boston
oh - that sounds wonderful! what a treat! And lucky for you that you visit that often! We are off in a few days - and staying at the Divi - low key - but good for the kids and the entire group of 15 - easy. Thinking of going off property one evening, probably without the two little ones, - there will be 13 adults - looking for some great food but not too pricey - can you help?