Punta Brabo — One of the island’s classic dining destinations, the Manchebo French Steakhouse has just undergone a total remake, becoming a chophouse, as interior designer Rachel Bowden collaborated with Executive Chef Ever de Pena and the entire resort management staff on the fresh look and feel of the popular restaurant.
The French Steakhouse was created by a legendary hotelier, the late Ike Cohen in the early 70s. As the owner and developer of the Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, Ike introduced the island to gastronomic excellence and practically invented Aruba’s culinary scene, at his French Steakhouse. Over the past decades, the restaurant underwent a number of renovations, but always maintained its classic presentation and cozy atmosphere, enhanced by live piano music, white linens, gleaming tableware, and caring, personal service.
One of the best recent additions to the restaurant was its sushi bar, Omakase, created when Chef Mylene Lapinid, a Japanese food expert, came on board. The bar at the French Steakhouse was converted into a charming Japanese eatery, which became an instant hit. The decision to radically reinvent the French Steakhouse evolved over time, in light of the success of Ike’s Bistro, the resort’s Mediterranean-Caribbean terrace restaurant.
Rachel Bowden, was tasked with the challenge, and she is no stranger to the resort. As a renovation, new construction, fixtures, finishes, furniture and staging specialist from Florida, she worked on many of the resort’s recent renovations, including Ike’s Bistro and guests rooms, and she truly understands the restaurant’s historic journey as it meets the ever-changing needs of clients.
“Ike’s Bistro is so creative,” she shares,”as far as its visual style and cuisine, that the French Steakhouse was also compelled to come on board.” Bowden reports aiming at a stylish, relaxed and casual look in a muted palette, as a backdrop to the fantastic food served in the restaurant. Most of the work was done on the island with the help of local suppliers such as Banjolux, De Arend and LED Aruba.
As the dining room morphed into its contemporary presentation, so did the kitchen with new tiles, and stainless steel work areas. Among the biggest changes is the entrance location. Patrons now enter through double wooden doors with inviting glass sidelights, into the heart of dining room, where they are greeted by a friendly hostess at a logoed reservation desk. “People will still recognize the Manchebo, and its charming wait staff” says Bowden, “but the place would exude a contemporary air, and an elegant ambiance.”
Chef Ever’s new menu features interesting and varied appetizers, soups, salads, chops, steaks, seafood, poultry and vegetarian dishes. We found some interesting surprises on the menu: Beef Tataki, Authentic Aruban Keshi Yena, Butternut Squash Bisque, Alkaline Salad, Caramelized Walnuts as salad add-ons, Veal Chop, Tomahawk Steak, Beef Kebabs, Arubian Tenderloin Stew, Homemade Ravioli, and Almond Crusted Grouper, all familiar menu item, with a different twist.
The menu also features many steak and chophouse classics such as Escargot a la Pernod, Onion Shop, Caprese Salad, Grilled Lobster Tail, Porterhouse, Rib Eye and Churrasco Steaks, in addition to Cajun Tuna. As a matter of fact one may also combine a satisfying meal from the side dishes, with Roasted Brussels sprouts and Cauliflower au gratin among the many delicious choices. For al fresco diners, the Chophouse features a small outdoor patio and serves romantic dinners on the beach.