I stayed a week in Aruba and went to several nice restaurants and thought I would start posting some reviews. I was looking for a nice seafood buffet after a long day diving. After doing a bit of research online we found a few, but focused on the Aquarius at the Marriott in downtown because of a couple of good reviews after reading several bad reviews from other locations.
We arrived early around 6:00pm for an early dinner. The place was empty, but the menu looked great. After paying our $40.00 a person we picked out a table and quickly had a look around. The selection was pretty good for a somewhat small restaurant that only seats say 50 or so. Tons of salads, and starters to choose from. Cheeses, crackers, olives and amazing salad bar with all the possible sides and a huge mound of fresh shrimp. We started off with a few things from the salad bar and the civiche was great. On to the main courses. They had 4-5 main entries and a few sides in large heated buffet serving areas with hot water below to keep them hot. I tried the fish, chicken, beef and the pasta side. All taste good and had great sauces the problem is the all seemed to be over cooked. It was odd because it seems that they had just put them out for dinner. Either they should have undercooked the dishes slightly to accommodate them sitting in the steaming water. That or possibly turning down the heat on the water to avoid having them continually cook while they sit. The chicken, beef and fish was tough and the pasta texture was too soft. Well enough of the pre-cooked food and on to the fresh seafood menu. This was by far worth the price of admission in it's own. Fresh, lobster, crab legs, scallops, 3 types of fish, and a few other items. The problem is the young chef preparing the food didn't seem to know how to cook outside of put it in the pan with butter and flip them around until they turn brown. My first request of scallops and lobster he oddly turned on the fire, put a few pats of butter in and then dropped the scallops in. I had stepped away to get a side of rice and came back to see my scallops sitting in pan with cold butter. He then decided to pour some wine and oil in along with it to make a "sauce". I'm not a top chef, but I eat seafood often and have watched enough hells kitchen to know if he tried to serve those scallops he would have been on the chopping block for sure!! He then tossed in the lobster to make matters worse. I didn't say anything because I thought maybe he was going to add cream to make the sauce, but nope he served it as is. I quickly said I didn't want a sauce and instructed him on how I preferred to have my food prepared. I asked him to lightly oil the pan and give it a few minutes to heat up. Then I said ok put in the scallops, but don't touch them let them enjoy the heat. After a quick sear on 1 side I asked him to turn them over. A few minutes later I had a great batch of correctly seared scallops. I explained to my girlfriend that the food was great, but the "chef" probably didn't get an A in his high school cooking class. Well I went back for lobster and crab legs and directed him how to prepare them in a light oil with a hint of garlic. It seems he has garlic, white wine, butter, oil, salt, and pepper to cook with and was trained to cook everything the same. I walked him through how I wanted my legs and tail prepared and wow it was great. The only thing missing was drawn butter, so I had cook melt a few pats of butter and added a bit of lemon pepper to the butter with a little oil as it cooked. Now we had a nice bowl of drawn butter for the crab legs... On to the fish. By now there was a few other in the restaurant and I watched him torture a great cut of grouper and thought wow this guy has no clue on how to prepare fish either. I told him how to I wanted my fish prepared and told him now to turn it over every minute for five minutes, but to just let it do it's magic and told him when it was ready to be flipped. After it was cooked I gathered some Bearnaise sauce from one of the entrees and had a great piece of fish with some amazing sauce.
All in all the buffet got 4 stars out of 5 because the cook had no clue. However with a little bit of direction and training the food was well worth the cost of admission. I mean where else on the island can you get fresh all you can eat lobster, crab legs, shrimp, and scallops cooked to your liking???