With its prime position, overlooking the pier and the gorgeous surrounding sandy beaches of Bournemouth, undoubtedly Aruba is the place to go for tourists and locals alike. When the sun shines, the only thing you really want to be doing is sipping a cocktail (or two) on Aruba’s balcony – and similarly, when the sun doesn’t shine – you can enjoy the view from the heated, slightly rustic feel interior, complete with lanterns and a wraparound bar.
Although the majority of guests come to enjoy a few drinks from Aruba’s rather extensive menu (including the choconut martini, complete with white chocolate liquor), we decided to try the restaurant side of things, which also seems to be popular – especially with hen parties (so the atmosphere does start to heat up and noise levels rise after 8pm). With a mix of typical English and American dishes, the menu isn’t complex or pretentious but simply offers great food – for affordable prices. There’s nothing overtly fancy, but similarly – the view adds something a little bit extra special.
I’m on a little detox at the moment, so although the cocktails looked tempting – I opted for a less calorific glass of champagne and Sion ordered a cranberry and lemonade. Although technically, these aren’t on the menu – for some reason Aruba seem to make THE best cranberry and lemonade, so much so it almost tastes like a cocktail. If you’re looking for a non alcoholic option, make sure you try it out!
With something to sip whilst we perused the menu, I eventually chose my all-time favourite nachos to start, with the sauces on the side. Practically dripping in cheese, the homemade nachos are so fresh they crumble and flake before you even pick them up, with a really biscuity, pastry texture (perhaps I’m not describing them in the most appetising way, but if you’ve ever tried nachos – you haven’t tried anything until you’ve tried these). Sion ordered garlic bread, not expecting the monster pizza-esque dish that was swept onto the table (you really do get value for money), in addition to a sharing platter of Artisan breads with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Not the most photogenic of platters I have to say, but the bread was delicious.
Conscious that we had another course to go, I only managed a few of my nachos – however once the dishes arrived, I was more than glad I had saved room. I had ordered the pan fried sea bass with spring vegetables, herb butter and Aruba’s world famous (well, almost) sweet potato fries with cajun spice. I eat a lot of sea bass, and it can sometimes be a little too dry or a little too oily depending on how they fry it and what they add – however this time, it was near enough perfect. Crispy on the outside and melt in the mouth flaky on the inside. The herb butter and mange tout were the perfect accompaniment and I enjoyed it so much, I almost forgot about my favourite sweet potato component. Almost.
Sion ordered a very manly ‘BBQ Ribs’ dish, described as ‘Aruba’s famous sweet and sticky baby back ribs’, with a side of coleslaw and chips, before then eyeing up my sweet potato fries. No, I’m kidding. He never really says much about his food (despite knowing I’m going to review it) but usually if there’s some degree of silence whilst eating, it’s an indication that it has been enjoyed.
As you know, I’m never one to turn down a dessert, especially on a cheat day – so we ordered the rather magnificent Brownie Sharer, which had to be probably the most calorific thing on the menu, but also the most delicious. The photographs don’t do it justice at all, but the only way to describe it is – mountains of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, warm brownie pieces, chocolate sauce and lots of mmmm’s.
If you’re visiting Bournemouth or even if you’re a local – Aruba is certainly a must visit. It’s not posh or pretentious, but it doesn’t pretend to be – it is simply great food, a busy, bustling fun atmosphere and lots of fabulous cocktails. The view is absolutely spectacular – and something you certainly won’t get anywhere else!
To book, or to have a look at the menu. Visit Aruba’s website here.