I’ll be honest with you — when I first set off to Aruba, I thought all of my memories would be about sand, beach, sun and perhaps a few cocktails here and there. What I didn’t expect was an island full of great food in every direction. And, since it’s a Caribbean Island, the fish was fresh and lobster was widely available, one of my favorites!
Above, the lobster at Atardi Restaurant at the Marriott, which you can get with a Filet or in my case, I chose to try it with Red Snapper on the side. They serve it with tomatoes, asparagus and potatoes.
Because I stayed at the Marriott (be sure to see my write-up), Atardi was a favorite foodie pick. After all, they serve you dinner right on the beach and I mean, RIGHT on the beach.
You slip off your shoes and they seat you right before sunset; my recommendation is to get there a a half an hour before it’s slated to go down or earlier. Order a drink and take in the breathtaking view of the ocean before you, while you absorb your day and look at their scrumptious menu.
Since I’m a huge fresh fish and lobster fan, it was hard to resist lobster as noted above. They also have a lobster salad which consists of an apple-celery salad, apple cream and a lobster claw. Can you say heaven?
The dish that also had me at hello was their Tropical Bouillabaisse, which is a seafood mix served in a coconut cream, saffron based soup. Yes, really. If you saw this scrumptious blend on the menu, you’d have to order it right?
Because they’re right on the ocean, it didn’t make sense to order steak or Beef Tenderloin, even though they served the latter with a Bearnaise sauce and potato gratin. YUM!
Truth be told, the Lamb Tenderloin was egging me on, saying “try me, try me,” especially given its side of roasted pumpkin, asparagus, pear and lamb juice. That said, I had to stick with seafood all night, pairing my choices with a crispy Sauvignon Blanc to start and Chardonnay for my main.
Appetizers included Crab Salad with avocado, potatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and micro greens, and Tomato Caprese for salad fans. And they did have Prosciutto which was hard to pass up, but only until I saw the Sashimi Snapper and Tuna Carpaccio on the menu.
The Snapper was served sashimi style, with a yellow sweet chili sauce, cilantro and caramelized sweet potato and the Carpaccio was served with pecans, cilantro, ginger, lemon juice, olive and sesame oil.
A l’il crab anyone? The chef insisted, so how could I say no?
For mains in the seafood category since you’d be silly not to order fish in Aruba, they offered Salmon with green beans, orange and fennel salad in a orange-mango sauce, Blackened Mahi Mahi with tomatoes, olive salt and a roasted pepper sauce, a Shrimp stew with green peas, cilantro and white rice, Scallops with leek fondant, crispy polenta, arugula salad, roasted tomatoes and corn (they were to die-for) and Soy Tuna with shitake mushroom broth, bok choy, carrots and sweet coriander. Ouch, right?
The best two dishes in my humble opinion goes to the Red Snapper with creamy coconut basmati rice, plantains and pineapple salsa and the Sea Bass (it melts in your mouth), which they serve with cauliflower puree and green beans in a champagne sauce.
If I return, I’d be keen on trying the Macademian Grouper, which they serve with bok choy, black quinoa chaufa and creamy red curry sauce — my waiter couldn’t stop praising it despite the fact that I went for other options.
Shrimp lovers should order their shrimp dish served in a yellow corn puree with corn salsa and lemon garlic butter sauce. It definitely had a wow factor.
A sweet lover? Atardi has you covered with plenty of options to choose from. Their chocolate tart is served with caramel, fruit compote and vanilla ice cream and their Coconut Cake (which my neighbors said I must order), has a white chocolate coconut mousse filling and is topped with pineapple sauce and toasted shredded coconut.
Needless to say, I shared it with the staff. If I didn’t, I feared I would devour the whole thing. They also have an Apple crumble which is served with vanilla ice cream, butterscotch and cinnamon apples, Creme Brulee with a black forest compote and a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Layer Napoleon which is topped with peanut butter cream and Himalaya salt, a must order if you are traveling with kids.
While you’re finishing your meal and the sun has already set, you may as well order a specialty coffee. When in Aruba, or anywhere in the Caribbean for that matter, things go slowly and you’re there to relax. Why rush, especially when you can order something called an Old Pirate’s Treasure which is made of Grand Marnier, brandy and coffee. In hindsight, I should have ordered it just for the photo.
They also have something called a Star Chaser with Crangelico, Kahlua and coffee, a Palm Beach Dream which is served with Tia Maria, Bacardi Rum and coffee and the Aruba Moonlight, which has Ponche Crema, Kahlua, Bacardi and hot coffee. You can order them with or without a dollop of whipped cream.
What else is lovely about this on the beach fine dining restaurant, is that they have live entertainment nightly, which varies in style depending on the night you’re there. Think jazz, easy listening, 1970’s and light pop. Let’s just say it is tres tres romantic!
Steak lovers will love the fact that there’s a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on the premises and for sushi lovers, it’s worth mentioning that there’s sushi bar in the main lobby. If you stay there, you’ll be all set every day: sushi for lunch and romantic dining with fabulous wine every night. Even if you don’t stay there, try Marriott’s restaurants out when next in Aruba.
Their sushi bar ETSU, has a great selection. My favorite was the Seared Tuna Tataki with Ponzu, ginger, radish, green onions and sesame oil, but their rolls are divine as well. From eel, salmon, tuna, hamachi, and spicy snow crab, they have more sushi and sashimi options than most resort hotels.