Boca Catalina, Arashi Beach Manchebo Beach, Eagle Beach
Costa Linda - 1/30/15 - 2/13/15 Part 2
Costa Linda 1/30/15 - 2/13/15 Part 2
Good afternoon fellow Aruba addicts. As I sit here looking out my window at the heavy blanket of snow that covers everything in sight, it seems impossible that I was just in Aruba eight days ago. Being back here in this frozen tundra makes it feel like it was ages ago that we were sitting on that glorious beach, soaking up the sun and those incredible breezes. As promised, here is my restaurant report. I understand that dining is a subjective experience, and that my dining preferences and opinions will differ from many of you. Please keep in that this is just my humble opinion, and is not meant to offend any person or establishment. I know that some of my reviews will differ from some recent ones, so I will preface this part again with this is my humble opinion on what we experienced on a particular night. So here it is...the good, the bad, and the not so good.
Water’s Edge at Costa Linda - We usually eat here several times while we stay at Costa Linda. We’ve always ordered off of the bar menu ( fish and chips, burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches). This year, they no longer allow customers to order off of the bar menu at night, but still have these items available if you ask. However, they’ve doubled the price at dinner time. Where as we used to pay $8.00 for fish and chips or a cheeseburger at lunch, they now charge $15.00 for the same dish at dinner. The food is very good. They do offer a nice dinner menu, but we’ve always dined here on nights when we wanted a lighter meal. On Superbowl Sunday, they offered a fixed menu of burgers, sandwiches,etc. for $15.00. This has to be one of their busiest nights of the year, and they do a very good job managing the crowds and service. We always have a great time there for Superbowl.
Pizza Bob’s - Our daughter and her hubby arrived the second day of our stay, and we all walked over to Pizza Bob’s for dinner. While I like the pizza at Pizza Bob’s, I must say that the service is incredibly slow. We were some of the early diners that night, so our pizza was ready in 30 minutes, which is considered fast at Pizza Bob’s. However, our server never returned after she delivered our pizza to see if we needed drink refills or anything. She also never made eye contact with anyone at any of her tables. After a very long wait, I took everyone’s glasses up to the bar and got refills for them. It takes just as long to get the check and to pay. This particular evening took two hours, from the time we ordered until we paid. Normally my hubby and I eat there on our first night, and we are just so glad to be in Aruba and sitting outside in the warm breeze, that we don’t care how long it takes. However, this was quite an experience for my daughter and son in law, who are used to everything being almost immediate in the U.S.
Matthew’s - I’ll admit it. I’m a Matthew’s fan. However, it took me several visits to convert. On my first visit, I ordered an entree that I didn’t care for, but since it is so close to Costa Linda, we gave it another try the following year. On the next visit, I became a convert. I love the atmosphere there. Following in Cindy O’s steps, I decided to embark on a grouper quest this year. Since I generally prefer shellfish, I have been trying to expand my palate. I love the Caribbean grouper at Barefoot, which some find too heavy on the sauce. I ordered the grouper with shrimp sauce at Matthew’s and thought it was very good, just not as good as my Barefoot grouper. Everyone really liked their dinners and the service was great. We tried the profiteroles for the first time and loved them. I also love their sangria.
Azzurro - Azzurro was one of my top three restaurants last year. This year my hubby and I ordered the pasta in the wheel with a side of meat balls. It was delicious. I don’t recall what the others ordered, but they all enjoyed their meals. The service was outstanding throughout the evening. Azzurro remains one of my top three.
Dutch Pancake House - We took my daughter and son in law to Dutch Pancake House for lunch one day when we were spending the day downtown. All of us really enjoyed it. My hubby and I split a savory pancake and then a sweet pancake for dessert. They were delicious. The pancakes are really more like crepes, and each is about size of a plate.
Barefoot - Barefoot is my favorite restaurant, and one that I can’t miss each year. Nothing feels more Caribbean to me than sitting out in the sand, watching the boats docked in the water, and seeing a few people wading in the water. Some people have complained that the music from Relextions (former Nikky Beach) is loud, but we have never experienced that. This year, I really listened for that, but it was not a problem. My hubby and I ordered the Caribbean grouper, and he loved it just as I do. I shared some of mine with my daughter, and she also loved it. I guess we are a saucy family Everyone loved their dinners and loved Barefoot.
Hollywood Smokehouse, I’ll be honest. I wanted to love it. We are huge barbeque lovers and I was really excited when I heard that they were moving over by Alhambra. I wasn’t concerned when I heard that they serve North Carolina style barbeque. I was born in NC and that is my preferred method. Just hubby and I went, while my daughter headed down to Palm Beach for the evening. Being as I had just had pork barbeque with my mom the day before I came to Aruba (as I said, we are big bbq lovers), I ordered beef brisket, and my hubby ordered ribs. I didn’t expect either to be covered with sauce, but I did expect that they would have a dry rub of spices. Both dishes appeared to have neither. They had a nice, smokey flavor, but without any dry rub, they really missed the mark for us. The potato salad was more like mashed up potato salad. The baked beans were the only part of the meal that we enjoyed. The sides were really small. Hollywood Smokehouse was the biggest disappointment on this trip. We definitely won’t return.
Quinta Del Carmen - My daughter and son in law left after nine days with us. I knew that I would be a little down, so I decided to book Quinta Del Carmen that evening to boost our spirits. When we arrived, there was a huge private party on the front lawn (around 100 or so people). We were escorted to the back patio, which is enchanting. There, tables are set in a garden setting, among the trees, with lovely lights strung all around. Our server was efficient, but also a little business like. We were served two tiny rolls with a delicious spread before the meal arrived. The entrees took a little longer than one would expect, but we figured that was because of the large group they were catering to on the front lawn. That was fine with us, as we were in no hurry and were enjoying the lovely gardens. My hubby ordered the nut crusted mahi mahi. It was much smaller than the mahi mahi that my daughter had ordered two nights before at Barefoot. It was served with a small handful of dutch potatoes and some mixed veggies. I ordered the caprese grouper with pesto pasta. I thought that the grouper was a little bland and that the pesto tasted like the pesto that I buy ready made at the grocery store. We both ordered dessert. I think that hubby had the cheesecake. I had the upside down banana pie with ice cream. It was fabulous. Rating this restaurant, I feel that the atmosphere is outstanding, truly lovely, but felt that the food on this particular night was good, but not great. I would give this place another chance, but hubby never forgets the restaurants that gave him a skimpy meal, and I doubt that he will return. My apologies to those of you who are over the moon for this restaurant. I can chalk up our experience to maybe they were having an off night, due to the large party that they were also serving.
Barney’s - I decided to continue my grouper quest with a visit to Barney’s, to try the parmesan grouper. I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical of the place when I walked in and noticed a number of people smoking at the bar, including the bar tender. I have terrible allergies (taking three allergy meds a day plus allergy shots). Since this is such a small area, there weren’t a lot of choices for seating. I would have preferred to sit in the back area, but that was full. We were seated a lot closer to the bar than I would have liked. However, I wasn’t too bothered by the smoke, so I assume that they must have a pretty decent ventilation system. We split an order of ribs and the parmesan grouper. I can sum it up in two words, Loved It! The grouper was delicious and the ribs were fantastic, which made up for the ones at Hollywood Smokehouse. I also had dutch potatoes and grilled veggies, which were excellent. We had enough ribs left over to have for lunch the next day. I think that this will be a regular stop for us each year.
Chalet Suisse - Chalet Suisse has consistently been one of my top three restaurants for years. We took it off our list a few years ago, to try new places, and vowed never again. I am always amazed at the level of service and food they produce each time. This has got to be one of the busiest restaurants on the island. We ordered an appetizer to share of various shellfish. It was rich and creamy, just fantastic. We always get the chateabriand for two. It was absolutely perfect. On this trip Chalet Suisse is our number one pick for food and service.
West Deck - On our last night, we chose to go to West Deck. We had hoped to get there last year but ran out of time. We loved the setting. This area is one of my favorite spots to dine. Since most of the menu is appetizers and hubby has a hearty appetite, we ordered several servings of the balashi grouper bites, beef on a skewer with plantains, french fries, and an assorted bread basket of Aruban breads. We found that we really didn’t need the fries because the appetizers came with a little macaroni salad on the side. We loved our meal. We feel that this is a great place to come if you are looking for a casual meal and a lovely setting. This will probably become a tradition for us.
Well, there you have it folks. The good, the bad, and the not so good. I really enjoyed my grouper quest. My favorite grouper dish remains the Caribbean grouper at Barefoot (the one covered in sauce), but I did enjoy it prepared many different ways. Coming in a close second was the parmesan grouper at Barney’s.
We had a wonderful time, ate and drank far too much, but hey, isn’t that what vacations are all about?? We are looking forward to our next Aruba adventure. A year seems far too long to wait, so I’m working on my hubby, encouraging him to take me back this summer for our anniversary, or in Sept. for my birthday. I think that I can wear him down :-) :-)