Papiamento Restaurant. Dinner at Papiamento Restaurant is an experience no one will ever forget. Surrounded by a lush garden, around a turquoise, sparkling pool with twinkling lights in the tree branches, the setting is magical. The 126-year-old Aruban “cunucu” house next to the pool is filled with gorgeous antiques from Europe, the oldest dating back to the early 1800’s. It’s the personal touches that make this place so wonderful: real flowers in amazingly beautiful arrangements, the polished utensils of a former, more leisure, era and the intense pride of knowing that you serve wonderful dishes.
Edward Ellis (47) is head chef of the family restaurant. He grew up washing the pots and pans, but soon realized where what his real calling was. Creativity is the name of his game, and in particular creations that caress the palate. Using the bounty of Caribbean spices, vegetables and herbs, Edward invents wonderful entrees. “Papaya, okra and cactus fruit make great decorations, but are very tasty as well”, he says. A plantation near the restaurant in Washington supplies fresh herbs, fruits and greens.
Papiamento Restaurant was started by Eduardo and Lenie Ellis, Edward’s father and mother in 1983. First located in downtown Oranjestad, the restaurant moved to an antique house in the hotel area, where the four Ellis children grew up. Edward, Jaap, Antoine and Annelotte, one of Aruba’s best pastry (and appetizer) chefs on the island, dug the pool and helped plant the garden. Amazing detail: the house had been a former riding school and there were just two trees on the property. And look at the garden now! Parents Eduardo and Lenie are still very much involved in the running of the restaurant, making this a true family business.