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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ARUBA'S AMUSE BISTRO--A STUDY IN EXCELLENCE

Amuse Bistro--ArubaIt was serendipitous that we stopped to look at the posted menu at Aruba’s Amuse Bistro just outside the Playa Linda Beach Resort.  Although we were actually heading to another restaurant recommended by friends, the menu was so tantalizing that it beckoned us, and we willingly followed.  We were not disappointed.

Before I even get into our delicious dinner, let me begin with the strikingly comfortable ambiance the owners created.  The peaceful atmosphere was a bit surprising when you consider that Amuse Bistro sits right on Juan E. Iraqusquin Blvd., and people and traffic constantly pass by.  The restaurant, however sits just far enough off and at an angle to the sidewalk creating for the diners a feeling of being removed from the busy-ness of the world around them.  Pardon the expression, but it’s a delicious feeling.

After a day at the beach, it is nice to spend the evening in a casual yet elegant surrounding and to enjoy the comfortable weariness of a full day.  The atmosphere should not be rushed.  This is exactly what we discovered at Amuse Bistro.

Amuse Bistro--Aruba
The lighting made this a very romantic setting
We sat outside under a lighted covering.  The temperature, as it is in Aruba, was warm and caressing. The easy jazz that played in the background was so nice and light that we asked the waitress if there were musicians inside.  Surprisingly, the music was actually streaming www.jazzradio.com on a good sound system.  Volume was low enough to enjoy the music and still be able to have a quiet conversation.  That combination is unfortunately rare nowadays, and we welcomed it.  Everything contributed to a relaxed yet casually refined mood.  How perfect is that after a day at the beach?!

Amuse Bistro--Aruba Amuse Bistro serves French-inspired dishes, but there is no attempt to make you wish you were in France.  You want to stay right here in Aruba.  At Amuse Bistro everything is made from scratch with fresh ingredients.  We’re not talking only about main courses.  Those from-scratch offerings include the bread, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and, yes, even the ice cream!  Dining here, therefore, is unlike any other restaurant, and we sat back and enjoyed the experience.

There’s another nice touch offered at Amuse Bistro.  Diners can order anything on the menu as an appetizer or as an entrée thereby allowing a size selection.  It’s an excellent concept.  We were tempted to order several different appetizer portions so we could taste a wider variety of dishes, but in the end we were won over by the Catch of the Day.


Amuse Bistro--Aruba
Notice the attributes of each wine.  Nice.
 But let me not jump ahead.  After our cocktails, we ordered wine to have with dinner.  Even the way the wine is offered brings a smile.  The “bottle” menu listed the suggestions.  Not only did we have the name of each wine, but also we had the unique qualities of the wine, so we could sip and allow our taste buds to search out the different flavors to which we had treated them.  That’s exactly what we did.  It was fun. 

We chose the Argentinean Malbec wine, fruity and earthy.  It is a cross between a California Cabernet and a California Merlot.  We were pleased with that choice.

We began our dinner with escargots in garlic butter and served with toasts.  This appetizer is one of our favorites, and it’s something I make at home.  Amuse Bistro’s preparation was lovely.  Escargots is an appetizer to eat slowly and to savor.  We did.

Amuse Bistro--Aruba
lovely lighting
lovely gazpacho
While we did not order soup, a complimentary tasting in a simple tiny glass bowl of Amuse Bistro’s gazpacho topped with a pine nut was served to us, and that was a pleasant treat.  The gazpacho was delicious, but the special touch simply added to our enjoyment of the restaurant. 

We did enjoy a wonderfully fresh salad, and then on to our entrées.  So much on the menu was tempting that this decision did create conundrums.  The Catch of the Day it turned out to be a perfectly tasty decision.

Amuse Bistro--Aruba
our grouper
absolutely delicious
lovely presentation
lovely dinnerware
The Catch of the Day was pan-fried grouper served on a bed of spinach and accompanied by mashed potatoes and bok choy in a very light cream sauce.  The presentation was artful, the taste extraordinary. 

Let me digress here to the presentation.  The photographs of our meal show the lovely dinnerware, colorful, unmatched yet all complementary to the deep blue linen and to each other.  The candlelight reflected the blue in our water glasses.  There was also variety in the shapes and sizes of the plates—different yet complementary. 

I was especially taken by the plate on which our entrée was served.  The colors of our meal—the shades of creamy white of the sauce and potatoes, the variable greens in the bok choy, and the lightly browned fish fitting so well on the dinner plate with its blue fish wrapping around the edge—added to the pampering atmosphere.  Who doesn’t like to be pampered?

The dining table became a canvas upon which a picture-perfect meal was presented—not a formal painting, but an elegantly casual picture fitting the restaurant’s setting and the island’s mood. 

We did not have dessert though it was tempting.  We sipped our coffee and then strolled Juan E. Iraqusquin Blvd. just as tourists do, enjoying the sights, the sounds, and the marvelous Aruban evening.



  





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