It's as good as Ever.
It's Ever and Teddy's table and if that is not enough reason to sit at it, I don't know what is.
In case you haven't noticed, a chef's table-style restaurant opened every other week in Aruba, definitely a trend. Now, how do you pick the one to sit at? These experiences are definitely priced above the average... Picking the right chef is the key.
When Chef Teddy Borouncle met Chef Ever D Peña in 2016, he immediately recognized his huge potential and sooner than later they ended up working together at the Marriott Aruba Resort. Jump a few years later, Teddy rose to the top of the culinary scene with Lima Bistro, quickly earning a spot as one of the top restaurants in Aruba. Ever was eager to create, make things his way, and show everyone his skillset, so the idea of them working together again, this time on a project of their own made perfect sense.
Ever, is not just a chef's table establishment, it's a combination of experiences: it's a restaurant, it's a gallery, it's a speakeasy. Quickly they assembled a team of collaborators to bring the idea to fruition. They knew exactly how to combine their passions and skillsets.
When you arrive at the door, all you see is a gallery facade but they're slicker than that. They engineered an entrance a la James Bond. A secret door opens after to wave your hand at a sensor and what you encounter is an intimate space of royal blue walls, wooden surfaces by Coastal Crafters Aruba, and lighting design especially placed to make you feel somewhere else, somewhere private, somewhere where unique things happen. It combines a lounge area, a dining area, and an open kitchen. The layout will let you enjoy both dinner and top-level mixology.
The gallery feel to it it's not only decorative. It is a new place where art will be displayed and appreciated. Soon enough the walls will be an exposition space where artists will display their pieces. A couple of Murano glass creations from Lava Aruba Glass Studio are now on display.
You are in for a front-row experience. Table settings neatly arranged show top-tier cutlery and glassware.
Immediately you're welcomed with a drink. In this case a special Negroni. 2-week aged infused with orange and grapefruit peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. A great compliment to the wooden feel of the place.
Once everyone enjoyed their apéritifs and mingled, dinner started. You can choose from two menus, the 4-course or the 7-course, and you can also choose the wine or cocktail pairings, there are no rules. You can listen to their sommelier's suggestions or you can stick to what you like. They won't be the ones to oppose if all you want to drink all evening is champagne.
The first thing that caught my attention was the kitchen tweezers laid out with the rest of the cutlery. Immediately felt curious.
Once team introductions were made, the first bite was served.
Croqueta with serrano ham, mango gel, and parmesan. Paired with a mango farm hazy IPA Beer. Just the way it is served in Spain: croqueta y cerveza.
it was a great first bite. Savory, crunchy, umami.
Once we finished, a bottle of Charles Clément Champagne started filling up the flutes, to be paired with the next dish.
A raw tuna with melon and white miso served on a scallop shell. People started going crazy about this one.
The short glass containing udon noodles, king trumpet mushroom, quail soft-boiled egg, and scallions was served, Shiitake broth was poured, and there you go, a perfect little bowl of Japanese udon noodle soup. Tweezers instead of chopsticks. Next level.
Of course, a meal from these chefs could not be complete without a T2 Pan Sourdough Boutique appearance.
Brioche with spicy tomato jam. A special sourdough with black Nile barley, mesquite, flowers, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and pomegranate powder. How do they come up with such things? Mad scientist stuff.
For the next dish, you would read on the menu "Crispy Shrimp" and expect the usual battered deep-fried shrimp, but once again, they're slicker than that.
The crispiness does not come from the shrimp, it comes from the fried vermicelli noodles on top. Served with sweet wasabi mayonnaise, cucumber, and a touch of citrus. I am sure there are 10 more things going on here. The wine pairing on this one for me was the best of the night. La Poussie Sancerre unlocked a level of freshness beyond that we did not see coming.
A fine dining affair usually involves fancy things like caviar, oysters, truffles, and wagyu beef... this time they went with foie gras.
For me, the star of this dish was the potato & apple mille-feuille, a piece of mastered culinary skills.
The palate cleanser was this Amazonian-looking honeydew melon creation. Tapioca, soursop, flowers.
A cocktail break was presented. Using a rare Amazonian distilled Gin as the spirit. Enough to kill -or wake up- a horse. You decide.
And then things got beefy.
A sous-vide cooked filet, mushroom purée, and asparagus, on an au poivre sauce. The pearl onion with the red wine sauce was the most perfect thing.
For dessert, Chef Ever explained his love for chocolate and how it goes so well with passionfruit. The presentation was stunning and so were the flavors.
In case you're wondering where these crazy cool dishes come from... they come from a local ceramist, Rani. Her pottery studio pieces have quickly become a staple in many of the best restaurants in Aruba.
No wonder these two have amassed an esteemed reputation on the island. The presentation and experience left everyone feeling pure bliss. When things are done with love and dedication you can just feel it.
After dinner, you can stick around for cocktails in the lounge area. The after-party happens right there.
There's an easiness to the whole experience. You feel welcomed as if you were invited to eat and hang out at the chef's home. It takes a great deal to make you feel that way.
Ever restaurant is set to open in early March 2023 in Harbour House, next door to Lima Bistro.
Make sure you're following Ever Restaurant on social media to be made aware of their official opening date.
Instagram: Ever Aruba
Facebook: Ever Restaurant Aruba
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Photography by Enrique Balestrini.