This is a column for Wednesday

AGAVE opens at the Holiday Inn

A select group of guests was invited to sample the cuisine of the Holiday Inn’s latest culinary offering Agave, serving Mexican food, as interpreted by Executive Chef Alwin Donata.

Chef Donata is an outgoing, charming professional, local, yet educated and trained in the US. He worked well with his counterparts at the F&B department, Director Juan Vega, and Assistant Director Hiram Zievinger, both veteran leaders in their field, to develop the new food concept, to be included in the all-inclusive program, and to be marketed to locals, who still flock to the Holiday Inn, one of Aruba’s first resorts, celebrating 54 years on Palm Beach, under the same name-brand.

Resort Marketing & PR Director Eva Ruiz, hosted the event, while General Manager Simone Farci circulated, greeting his guests warmly.

We had cocktails off the pool deck, at sunset, followed by a four-course tasting menu, covering most of the restaurant’s specialties. Chef Donata gratefully acknowledge the contributions of his team members Itala, Aura and Ocean, who helped blend authentic Mexican spices, and fresh local products with a healthy dose of passion and inspiration.

On the menu: Creamy Guacamole a la Dona, and golden brown Croquetas de Elote, chased by Cochinita Pibil, and Vegano, two different corn tortillas, one topped with slow braised pork the other with vegan beef, each paired with a supporting ensemble of delicious herbs and sauces. The third tasting platter featured Quesabirra, accompanied by a dipping tub of beef concomme and Tostaditas de Pulpo, with tender braised octopus and Mexican chorizo. With a kick.

Chef Donata presented each dish and educated his audience regarding the heat levels of each salsa used generously in his kitchen.

For dessert, how can you go wrong with Tres Leches con Maracuya, and Flan de Coco sprinkled with toasted coconut.

It was a very lovely experience. Our server Johnathan never missed a beat and delivered bottomless Mexican Mules, Oaxaca cocktails starring Mezcal laced with watermelon syrup, and very Berry Margaritas, to order, and I noticed the bartenders were both young and good looking, which by itself is a good reason to hang at the bar.

Interior designer Karina Muci designed a bright and friendly room, having stayed away from traditional Mexican décor. She provided diners with an uplifting environment, that may later become a seaweed or insect restaurant, when our food preferences evolve — I hear insects and seaweed are the food of the future.

The mural painting of the Agave, was hand painted as a tribute to the colorful cuisine, considered among the world’s most progressive.

Bogart’s opens at the Cove

It took some time for the Cove to achieve synergy, it was many things to many people at the beginning, but now, I think it found its niche on Palm Beach, as a restaurant hub, and condo hotel.

The latest restaurant and piano bar to open at the Cove is Bogart’s.

It replaces the raucous YOLO, in difference to condo guests living over-head. No more merciless loud music and high octane clubbing, we’re a cultured and agreeable piano bar now, with a dedicated, Dutch-born chef who considers cooking an art form and a menu featuring Chateaubriand, pepper cognac sauce, truffle funchi fries, and green salad for two, carved tableside, at $90 for two. While the chef says his favorite is the Ribeye Rouleaux, I did not find it on the menu.

I dropped in, before the opening party, to check out the place.

The young man in charge, a server, and now also the interim bartender, since the designated master-mixer is away, is Kevin Kelly, a most helpful and genuinely friendly individual who introduced Bogart’s to me as a fine dining, piano bar, while pianist Rene Lacle, sat over our heads, caressing the keys.

The place has elaborate wall paintings and simple furnishings. It’s quite big and I noticed it ate part of the sidewalk, in order to grow.

Then I tested Kevin, I asked him who Bogart was and what’s the name of his most famous movie. Kevin aced the test. I am impressed, that guy is a character, with good knowledge of the menu, and hospitality in his vein. I would keep him, and he promised to recognize me on my next visit, let’s see.


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July 10, 2023
Rona Coster