My hope in Aruban restaurants is somewhat restored. Amongst all of the American chain restaurants, we’ve found a couple gems.
Two nights ago, we went to Papillon. I don’t think it’s a chain, but it almost has that feel to it (well-appointed, theme-oriented). It also has great real estate on the high-rise strip. But the menu is what brought us in. After a quick glance it looked like they had some decent vegetarian options for me, and some good fish options for Brady (his focus for the trip). It didn’t disappoint. I had the risotto cakes and Brady had the sea bass. We both really enjoyed our meals.
And tonight, we went to Amuse Bistro. It’s a cute, french-themed restaurant tucked back from the main road that goes through the high-rise area. We found it after walking a bit and looking at several posted menus. Amuse Bistro had the best combo of vegetarian and fish options from what we saw tonight. It was delicious. I had a pasta dish (with truffle oil :)), and Brady had their catch-of-the-day (grouper). We both cleaned our plates, and ate dessert even though we were full. It was great.
What really bummed me out, though, was that Amuse Bistro wasn’t full. When we were seated, we were the third full table there (out of 20 or so tables). The other couples left before we received our food, leaving us the only table there for the rest of the night. I don’t get it. The food was awesome, and plated artistically to boot. Our server was attentive and friendly, but not overbearing. And we were there at prime dinner time (seated at 7:45pm).
So, why wasn’t this place full? I can think of a couple reasons. 1) It’s tucked back a bit from the main street, but only about 20 feet or so, and it’s on the less-crowded side of the street. 2) The menu has great options, but the descriptions don’t do it justice. 3) It’s not a flashy American chain. I could just be cynical, but I think reason #3 is the main culprit. That really bums me out. People, if you’re reading this in preparation for your trip to Aruba: step out of your comfort zone and try something new! Go to Amuse Bistro, or at least try a restaurant that’s not a freakin’ chain!
OK, my rant ends here.
Tomorrow we’re renting a car, which will give us better access to downtown Oranjestad and more local restaurants. =)