What you see is what you get. These descriptions suit both the restaurant and the owner. Straightforward, honest, pure and local. “Taste My Aruba is all about honest food, it is culture. Quality is my credo and my heart is in this place,” says owner Nathaly de Mey, who personally selects the fish caught daily at the port. “We have a different menu every day depending on what the fishermen bring in.” Taste My Aruba opened on July 10th, 2018; and this ship has been sailing steadily towards more and more great reviews. If it were not for the food, the enchanting outside terrace would be worth it all.
At Padu Lampe Plaza in the heart of Oranjestad, you will find a renovated monumental building which used to be the governor’s mansion. Inside, it is all about local art and crafts, the creative center, Cosecha, is open during the day. At 6 p.m., you will find the most romantically-lit terrace under a canopy of trees with tables set up for you to indulge in delectable food. The most curious thing is this place is so unpretentious.
Ceviche, Lobster Tower, Grouper Fish Cakes and Lobster Bisque are some of the divine starters. Drunken Shrimp Linguini in Creamy Garlic Sauce or Lobster with Truffle Mash will make you happy. The entire menu improves your mood. But don’t worry; there are also options for meat lovers.
Sustainable & local
“I buy local out of principle and I stick to that. I wish to support Arubans and by buying 100-300 kg of fish each week I give back to the fishermen and their families,” says De Mey. She checks every fish she buys because in her opinion it is important to see how the catch is being handled. “We use everything from the head to the tail. The lobster is boiled and we make a bisque from the head while the tail is used for the Lobster Tower. The Grouper’s body and head carry a lot of meat which goes into the fish cakes and the rest is used for the main course. We are fully sustainable.” She calls her place a ‘boutique fish shack’. Although we cannot agree on that because it is way more. Taste My Aruba is like Aruba’s ever-blowing breeze, a fresh and honest surprise and located on a beautiful spot downtown. “Our guests are mainly tourists and they know how we work. If it’s finished, it’s finished because what we get from the sea is all we can offer you. The only foreign products I buy are my wild-caught shrimps from Norway and of course beef _ we do not have cows on our tiny island.”
De Mey lived in the United States for 16 years and another 17 years in Dublin, Ireland. “The season in Dublin runs from March to September as after that it gets cold. My birthday is in October so I thought; let me come home to celebrate and I will stay for the cold season in Aruba.” She did not leave again. “In Dublin, I ran a culinary business where we would hit various eateries in trendy places during a culinary walk. I started this here too, but everywhere I went the food was standing there forever. Do not get me wrong, I like pastechi but it should not be eaten from a hot box, only fresh.” She is firm not to have her food laying around, they make it as you order. “So this place came available and I thought; let me turn it into this posh sandwich shop with everything fresh and all kinds of bread. But it is simply too hot during the day and my kitchen space is only 23 m2.” Her clientele were government employees grabbing a sandwich and coffee on their way to work or picking up lunch. It went well but as De Mey says: “To make it half you need to sell 1000 sandwiches at least, I had to make a change.” One day she bought seven kilos of fish and prepared it on a George Foreman grill. “This is a historic building, so gas ovens are not allowed, everything needs to be electric. Nevertheless, I sold all the fish in one day, so I kept selling fish.” Initially she did it by herself. She woke up every night at 3 a.m. to prepare and carrying foldable tables to her terrace every day. “I had to be here at 7 a.m., when the employees started passing by.” Her principle of fresh and local food counted for her sandwiches and salads too. “This is me, my authenticity. I can’t do it halfway.”
Curious about Taste My Aruba? Make sure to make your reservation for one of the 32 seats. Hours are from 6pm-11pm, Monday through Saturday. Website: https://tastemyaruba.com/reservations/.