Aruba Restaurant, Bar and Beach Club is one of few venues in Bournemouth that caters for everything and everyone – whether a light breakfast, business lunch or an evening of cocktails and dancing by the sea, Aruba’s breathtaking views of Bournemouth’s sandy beaches and clear blue water makes this the perfect place for any occasion.
I, however, visited the ‘beach bar’ on a cold evening in January! Not the best opportunity to see the waves lapping at the shoreline, but positive thinking – great to focus on the dining experience that this popular eaterie has to offer.
It was quiet in the restaurant (did I say it was FREEZING outside?) but although the open-plan room capacity is second to only another venue in the town, the Bournemouth International Centre (i.e. it’s spacious!) we felt rather warm and cosy with the low-level lighting, the bright backdrop of Caribbean colours and the glow from the central bar and open kitchen.
On a summer’s day, we would have had a beautiful view of the beach, sea and pier, but my friend Therese and I were there to EAT.
While perusing the packed menu, we both ordered a gin and tonic from the new G&T menu – Therese chose a Hendricks Gin with Fever Tree elderflower tonic and I went for a fruity infused Bulldog Gin with premium Fever Tree tonic. They were delicious!
The marvellous menu is down to group Head Chef, Matt Cook, who took over Aruba and West Beach in July, and introduced a fusion of classic dishes, tropical vibes and vegan specials.
We didn’t want to try classic; we wanted imaginative, and we chose well! For our starters, we chose the Prawn & Chorizo Gumbo in a thick tomato, pepper and okra sauce – and the Sweet Potato Fritter with pineapple salsa (the vegan option).
Both were mouth-wateringly good. The fritter was light and crunchy with a citrusy snap to it; the prawn & chorizo gumbo was just-right spicy, and we loved the thick sauce so much we were debating ordering more bread to soak it up (but then remembered we had to save some room).
For our main meals we ordered another vegan special, the Spicy Black Bean & Peanut Burger with fried plantain & tomato salsa – and the Beef Short Rib, braised for 24 hrs in BBQ sauce and served with sweet potato mash.
The Rib was melt-in-your mouth good, and the sweet potato mash was soft and buttery – and just the right portion to accompany the ribs. The vegan burger was oh-so-delicious and infused with so many fresh flavours! We spoke with Matt about the need for a variety of vegan dishes on any menu – and Aruba did not disappoint.
We could only fit in a dessert between us – the Popping Buck’s Fizz Cheesecake with orange zest glaze and gold sugar. I’ll be honest, it looked so pretty I didn’t want to spoil it at first – but ended up fighting Therese for the last mouthful!
After one of the most beautifully crafted cappuccinos I have ever seen, we left full and happy. On the way home we planned an evening in the summer so that we could try more from the menu, and this time with a view of the beautiful vista.
Oh, and next Sunday, when we’re back to try one of the Sunday Roasts – but we can’t choose from Twice Baked Roast Brisket, Half Roast Chicken or the Black Bean, Lentil, Nut and Winter Vegetable Loaf!
Aruba Bar & Restaurant
|Invited by PR company?||No|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||Yes|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||Yes|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||No|