Sunday, December 28, 2008

Arubian Nights

One would think that the Caribbean would be rife with fresh seafood for immediate consumption.  Well, that might be the case if you aren't a tourist.  But for the hundreds of thousands who fly south from bitter winters, seafood is alarmingly scarce.  

Take last night, for example.  We came in late and my mother is not a planner.  We ended up, therefore, at the hotel's 'formal' restaurant, The Sunset Grille.  It was a steak house.  Seriously. 

The menu promised fresh seafood selections, but from what I could tell, almost none of those selections came from local waters.  There was Chilean Sea Bass (question: isn't this endangered?), cold-water lobster tail (I could definitely get better back in New England), diver sea scallops, and Maryland crab.  The only identifiably local fish was red snapper.  Where was the mahi mahi and the grouper?  

My appetizer, tuna tataki with seaweed salad, could have come from any state on the eastern seaboard.  The tuna was good, but I had to wonder about its provenance.  Another appetizer we shared consisted of a decent crabcake and an overcooked pair of seared diver scallops accompanied by two sliced apples.  Apples, the quintessential cold weather fruit of the north.  Nothing about the dish reminded me of how warm it was outside. 

Main courses leaned towards land rather than sea.  My brother and I shared a bone-in rib eye and lamb chops that were cooked past medium and underseasoned.  Asparagus came steamed to a pale, lifeless green and our dessert, touted as a coconut chocolate souflee, and which I ordered because it sounded particularly island-y, was actually the anemic cousin of Jean-Georges' molten chocolate cake.  

The best part of our meal, by far, was the 2003 Tinto Pesquera 'Crianza' Ribera del Duero, which, at $55, spared our pockets when our steaks did not.  I couldn't help but wonder at meal's end where the Aruba had been during our Aruban meal.  

Sunset Grille Seafood and Chops
Radisson Aruba Resort
J.E. Irausquin Boulevard 81
Palm Beach, Aruba


ramster said...

i honeymooned in aruba, 14 years ago. all i can remember of the food is that dunkin donuts was lining them up at sunrise. and there was a place that cooked food on hot stones at your table, that had drinks that i swear were at least 200 proof. i dont remember if the food was good, but we did have to help each other walk back to the hotel



The place you're thinking of is Le Petit Cafe. I looked into it but I think we're going to do some other things while we're here. As for the Dunkin' Donuts, they are absolutely everywhere.