So... it was my birthday on November 21st... I'll post an address for gift sending shortly LOL and I had booked Gostoso at the last minute. Our local good friends had recommended it as they were only able to survive their house reno by eating here.
I'd originally wanted to order in pizza and spend my b-day in the pool sipping adult beverages and chomping on pepperoni. The Spouse insisted that's no way to spend a birthday.
Wow. Am I ever glad I gave in...
Gostoso is a Portugese-Aruban/Caribbean fusion restaurant with a wonderful owner/director, Jose, who walks the floor greeting everyone and making sure everything is going well... a wonderful host and always a good sign at a restaurant. The atmosphere is a small, funky environment with lots of convivial activity that keeps the place buzzing - definitely family-friendly. We have a funny story about Jose and his origins that I'll post shortly.
The staff sort of mingles in and out while you're eating so you're never left for wanting anything like water, more drinks etc. but our primary waiter was Rocky and he started us off by reciting the days soups and specials. I know: soup in Aruba... are they crazy? Wow.... they're nuts and I'm all the better for it.
We both started with soup LOL and ordered from the specials list:
The Spouse had the short-rib beef soup and I had the fish chowder... OMG... so flavourful; they also make an in-house hot sauce that goes well with everything - I almost bathed in it. Ironically, it's made from Madam Janette peppers (ouch) we didn't even know there was a pepper with that name!
The Spouse had a wonderfully ribeye with mushroom demi-glace that was cooked to perfection; fried plantains, rice and steamed vegetables on the side (Aruba really has a knack for doing vegetables to perfection - steaming them just long enough so they remain crunchy... the entirety of the UK could learn from them LOL):
I opted for the seafood medley (lobster, scallops, grouper, shrimp, mussels, clams) in a Brazilian curry cream sauce with the same sides. Wow. I almost licked the plate:
And then dessert arrived: dark chocolate layer cake with whipped cream on the side - and the whole staff sang Happy Birthday...
The chocolate words are a little smudged because I couldn't stop myself from a face plant before I took a pic. LOL
And you know what? We went back again the next night. Superb, again.
Here's the funny story about Jose on the second night: we winged it and just showed up hoping to get a table. The restaurant was packed so we were seated in a corner at the back.
There was an American couple with an adorable daughter next to us and we chatted a bit.
The Spouse looks up on the wall and sees a whole tchotchka collection of souvenirs and pictures from Funchal, Madeira (an autonomous region of Portugal off the northwest coast of Africa... it's about half the size of Aruba in land mass and about the same population).
One picture, in particular, is of a main street in Funchal that has lots of stores and restaurants and we were there four years ago! And we had espatada (kind of like a hanging kebob) right on that very street!
The American couple next to us place their order: espatada. We just about freaked out in the restaurant.
Turns out Jose is from Medeira - he was really busy on Saturday night so we didn't get to tell him about the insane coincidence.
Please make the effort to try Gostoso... a wonderful, local place that is cooking up great things.