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Thread: Randi's long trip report

  1. #1
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    Randi's long trip report

    After four weeks in Aruba, the cold reality has hit us with a vengeance quite literally. Luckily arriving home on Saturday was warm but that didnít last too long.
    I started off my trip with youngest DS, who had no final exams and ended up with a very long university break. Lucky for him that he got to spend the full month with me. That wonít be happening again but it was fun to have him and glad that he wanted to spend the month with parents. DH followed a few days after us, with oldest DS, daughter in law and middle DS all coming on different days. It is always wonderful to have the family together in Aruba as it truly is our second home (as so many of us feel). We are truly blessed that our kids (all in their 20ís) still love traveling with their parents and that makes our trip all the more special.

    Starting off with my restaurant reviews:
    Casua Tua: I havenít been there in a few years but I will mention that the prices have gone up. No longer is it a cheap dinner. The pizzas are around $18. More tables have been added to the once grassy area and tables are rather close together. We arrived at CT early (around 6pm) as we were starving after a long travel day and not really eating any lunch. We both ordered our own pizza as this was the first real food we had all day. The waitress come over to give us our bill and remarked on how she couldnít believe we ate the whole pizza each! She said she can never finish a whole pizzaÖREALLY, you just said that to us???


    Anna Maria: Pasta always delicious and fresh. We went their twice as we love their pasta. The service was much faster than last year and both times we ordered our dinner and finished eating in under two hours. Since we have been coming to Anna Mariaís since it opened we have now become friends with the owners. Chris can always count on me to give him an honest opinion. As with many restaurants, getting good front of the house staff seems to be more difficult. On our second visit, Chris was now serving customers as the kitchen was being run very capably by Anna Maria and her staff. Chris out front made the service perfect. He keep everything moving along and it really made a difference.



    Chalet Suisse: Steak was delicious but their sides arenít so great. We always seem to compare this to El Gaucho. Toss up which place has the best steak but El Gauchoís sides are much better. There is one server at Chalet Suisse who has been there FOREVER but he needs to go. He is rude, rushing to serve customers and abruptly going past customers chairs to get his food to tables. Next year back to El Gaucho



    Yemanja Woodfired Grill: We love this place and the food always seems to be very consistent. While the downtown location may make some reluctant to go, this place is always on our list. Their soups are excellent and our family had both meat and fish and everyone loved their meals. IMO, you canít go wrong with this place.


    Altamar: This is a new Italian restaurant located along the ďstripĒ in Palm Beach. It is a lovely looking place with a very nice modern decour. We didnít realize when we booked it that it was owned by the new owners of Sole Mare. You canít beat the location but sadly we didnít love the food. I had lasagna which was with spinach noodles and bťchamel sauce mixed in with the meat sauce. It just made the dish very heavy and I just didnít love it. DH and DS had spaghetti Bolognese and they said it was good but not outstanding. We all agreed for a few dollars more per dish we would rather go to Anna Mariaís for far better pasta. The service was excellent with very attentive staff.



    Smokey Joes: Went their twice and was sadly underwhelmed. The second time was worse than the first with the ribs not all that tender. We all agreed that this place has been removed from the list.



    Blossoms JAPANESE: As always, we loved the food. We went with another family who had never been to Aruba before so they enjoyed the show. I think our family can tell all the jokes by now! This is a great place for quick dinner as you are never their longer than 1.5 hours and it is a fun evening.



    Wacky Wahoos: I would say that is the best place for fish anywhere. Wahoo was plentiful this year so we were thrilled. I canít say enough about how delicious their food is and the portions are so generous. The owner is very stubborn about his reservation system as the only way you can get a reservation is to do it by phone between 3:30pm and 5pm. He refuses to allow email reservations but then comments that he ends up with a lot of ďno showsĒ! No kidding, no way of communicating as they donít answer the phone and no emails. There have been times where our group was smaller than our reservation but we had no way of communicating with them. They could easily have filled those seats if there was some form of communication.


    Wilhemina: Really funky place right on the corner next to El Gaucho. This was an old hardware store that was beautifully made into a modern restaurant. When you enter the restaurant they left the old hardware store turnstile which is a nice touch. We sat at the back in a private dining room that was enclosed in glass with a lovely view of the restaurant. The dinner was delicious as was the service. We had a gambit of appetizers (from Tuna, to salad to mushroom ravioli- which was out of this world good, etc) and a variety of main entrees. I would say that the one dish that really stood out was their veal chopÖdelicious. The sea bass was delicious but it was paired with a rich risotto which I found too heavy. I missed seeing on the menu the out of this world ceviche that they serve at Carte Blanche. That would give a lighter option for an appetizer. The mushroom ravioli was so delicious (a bit heavy) that I would love that as my main course. Service and presentation was excellent and we would definitely go back next year.



    Solanio: This was our biggest disappointment. Food is average but with big price tag so expectations was high. Service was average and decour also very average. Wouldnít bother going there. Not what you would expect from a restaurant at the Ritz Carlton.



    Quinta del Carmen: We truly love this relatively new restaurant. Over the years of going to Marandiís, Barefoot and now Quinta del Carmen we have got to know one of the owners Luc very well so coming to his restaurant holds a special meaning for us. We are so proud of Luc and what he has accomplished in Aruba from his initial beginning of maÓtre dí at Mirandiís. This year he has set up another area for seating along the side of the restaurant and it is lovely and elegant. We sat there and it was just as charming as the backyard. Food was delicious and diverse. Something for everyone, from fish to meat. Ceviche was delicious and plentiful and my men loved the meat dish that is a ďGrandmaís favouriteĒ which is a cross between stew and brisket. We bring our own wine and the corkage fee is very reasonable. We always highly recommend this wonderful place.



    Madame Janettes: We havenít been here in a while but the family we were dining with wanted to go. Service was much better than in previous visits (but we also had a 9pm reservation). Ambience is nice and food was good. Menu has a few new items on it and some of the plate presentation has changed. The food menu is still on the heavy side with lots of rich ingredients. All in all we found it good but pricey. For that price point, we feel there are better options. However, I will say the manager Thomas was outstanding. The reason for our interaction with Thomas I will explain later in the review.



    Carte Blanche: This place is in a class of its own. We go with a few couples yearly and we never leave disappointed. Dennis and Glenn are amazing and the food is beyond delicious. This is an expensive dinner but if you want to treat yourself, this is the place to go. Itís a long evening which starts at 7pm and ends around 11pm. Sixteen people sitting around a bar style table with a surprise menu and 5 courses. There are two other places that resemble this concept which we have been to but neither rivals Carte Blanche. Everything is prepared in front of you and Dennis and Glenn are personable, charming and funny. Ceviche, fish and beef are all served in the various courses topped off with dessert. Words canít describe how delicious everything is. A must go but reservations need to be done ahead of time online.

    To add to our restaurants over the four weeks in Aruba, we did a bunch of BBQís which are always fun too. The grocery stores are fantastic in Aruba with getting all sorts of foods are so readily available. Super Foods has great meat and chicken with great prepared skewers. Hot dogs and hamburgers is always a great bbq dinner too. Lings and Sons have great produce and fish so between the two different stores we can find everything we want.



    Thanks to Cindy and Rob, we booked Sunrise ATV tours and we loved it! We did the sunrise tour and after coming to Aruba for 16 years we got to see a side of Aruba that we havenít seen. It was a breathtaking tour and we all loved it. I am a nervous passenger but I sat with Arias and he went out of his way to make me feel comfortable. The ATVís are really UTVís and very comfortable and seat 2 or 3 people. Arias had beach chairs in the back of the vehicle so at our stop at the beautiful Boca Grande we were able to sit and enjoy the gorgeous beach. Upon our return to the SC, we raved about this tour and a few other families are going to do this tour next year. My kids want to do it again too!! Highly recommend to all.


    We went to Anna Mariaís on our last week with CindyO and RobO and had a wonderful evening catching up with them. It felt like old friends! The funniest thing was a table near us recognized Cindy and Rob from this forum and asked Chris (the owner) if he would mention this so they could meet them. Hilarious, as it was like we were having dinner with celebrities!!!!



    Scottís Brats have now taken in new partners and they seem very nice. We recognized Anna from her Mirandi days. Both Anna and Mark are very personable and I think they will do very well. Leslie and Scott have worked very hard over the past four years to build their business into the success it is today and we wish them well in their semi-retirement.



    So now for my story of Madame Janettes, after dinner we went to our car to find a big white Hyundai van literally touching the bumper of our tiny Hyundai Accent. We needed to call the police to make a report and went back into the restaurant to do so. The manager Thomas was so nice and stayed with us throughout the incident. Now why do I say incident, the owners of the van came out of the restaurant and became very hostile. Thomas sent out is big chef to stay on the sidelines just to ensure that all stayed calm. The group from the van were 8 people who were loud and very hyper. One of the waiters came out who spoke Spanish as their English was ok while we spoke prior to the police arriving. Upon our arrival I drove into the parking lot and pulled forward to make it easy to leave because the taxiís line up in front of the first row of parked cars. I was driving and DH suggested this and I only mention this as it was a discussion point when we arrived so I know that no one was behind us. The van arrived afterwards and we figured that they backed into the spot and from the noise level of this group we surmise that they were all talking and the driver didnít even notice that they had hit our car. Their van was facing the restaurant so they parked and walked in. Their version of their arrival time changed 3 times and the police were very kind. All they could do was take a report for insurance purposes. Thomas and his staff get a big thank you from us as they stayed until the police left despite the late hour.

    The weather was one of the best it has been in years. The first week we arrived (which was week 50) it was very windy which continued during week 51 and 52 but not quite as windy as week 50. Week 1 was almost with no wind and as a result very warm. In the four weeks, we saw one hour of cloud with a rain burst. The ocean was glorious and warm where we spent most of our time, just floating in the water on our rafts. The sunsets were beautiful and we stayed out to watch most evenings. As I write this it has started snowing outside and it is cold too. The memories of sun, sand and ocean seem to be starting to fade and we canít wait to be in Aruba again in eleven monthsí time. We are thankful for our special family vacations and hope that we can share them with our children for many more years. Each year is a blessing as we never know what the next year will bring. Itís hard to believe Aruba Family Vacation 2015 is now complete.
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

  2. #2
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    awesome
    thanks randi

    was there damage to your car?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    awesome
    thanks randi

    was there damage to your car?
    Actually, that was a funny thing. At the time the bumper had a very small bulge but the paint didn't crack. We called Hans (Tropic) and he came to see the damage and by the next day the dent was gone! We were wondering that perhaps the damage was just an indent and with the heat of Aruba it just went back into shape.
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

  4. #4
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Wonderful report and a great family vacation. Really good restaurant reviews and enjoyed reading about some of our favorites. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randi View Post
    Actually, that was a funny thing. At the time the bumper had a very small bulge but the paint didn't crack. We called Hans (Tropic) and he came to see the damage and by the next day the dent was gone! We were wondering that perhaps the damage was just an indent and with the heat of Aruba it just went back into shape.
    That gorgeous Aruban sun working it's magic!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

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    Senior Member WaltVB's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed your wonderful restaurant reviews.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Aruba4ever's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report. I am sorry about your little accident and I am glad it turned out okay in the end.

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    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    Fantastic report! Completely agree and would LOVE to see the Carte Blanche ceviche at Wilhelmina as an appetizer.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Aruba4ever's Avatar
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    I am disappointed my favorite spot (solanio) was not a good experience for you. We have eaten there 6 or 7 times at least and we were always thrilled with the food and the service was always excellent. We have sat both inside and outside and have enjoyed both, especially outside when they have the singer in the evenings. Food can always be off on an evening, I surprised that the service was not top notch. They recently promoted the women who oversaw the dining room, but I would not expect the service to suffer. I will be back in 4 weeks and I will certainly to do a follow up report if we don't see one between now and then.

    Wilhemena has been mentioned a few times recently and it looks really good. If I venture off the Ritz property other than to go to Bugaloe one evening, I will seriously consider eating there.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aruba4ever View Post
    I am disappointed my favorite spot (solanio) was not a good experience for you. We have eaten there 6 or 7 times at least and we were always thrilled with the food and the service was always excellent. We have sat both inside and outside and have enjoyed both, especially outside when they have the singer in the evenings. Food can always be off on an evening, I am somewhat surprised that the service was not top notch. They recently promoted the women who oversaw the dining room, but I would not expect the service to suffer. I will be back in 4 weeks and I will certainly to do a follow up report if we don't see one between now and then.

    Wilhemena has been mentioned a few times recently and it looks really good. If I venture off the Ritz property other than to go to Bugaloe one evening, I will seriously consider eating there.

    Our friends went to Solanio during week 50 and told us it was really good. They went back a second time and were very disappointed as were another couple. We still went and not thrilled. Actually, we recognized our waiter from Madame Janettes. He was unforgettable as he always very hyper and almost running with the food. He was much calmer at Solanio which was nice.

    I might suggest you try a few places not too far from the Ritz and a whole new world of great Arubian restaurants will await you...lol
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

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