We arrived yesterday at the far reaches of the west coast of Provo down a several mile dirt road which is about 20-30 minutes from the airport (we got stuck behind a construction truck). Here lies AMANYARA, the luxury resort from the Asian team that has brought us so many exquisite Aman Resorts around the world; a small nest of some 40 villas and pavilions on the beach and small ponds nearby where you seem to never see another guest. Okay--it's a small world as just after we arrived and headed to the Bar for what is called "tea" we met a couple who knew my brother-in-law's sister-in-law (yes, always one degree of separation!).
Later on we headed to The Restaurant, which is the only dining spot here (except the Beach Restaurant which is open only one or two nights a week--we will dine there tonight most likely). Indeed, if you choose to head off property, save for Da Conch Shack (where we'll try lunch tomorrow) on a beach 20 minutes away on the other side of the island, your only options are indeed all over 30 minutes away...down that long, curvy and steep dirt road (not worth risking if you have a couple of beers or some wine!).
Much of the staff here hails from the Philippines and our server Emma was a gem, as are all the locals as well, who are some of the nicest folks I have ever met in the entire Caribbean! The Executive Chef hails from Switzerland, but he is off on vacation (sound familiar), so executive sous chef Patricio from Spain is in charge. We met him and he explained many of the dishes helping us to decide. We ordered a bottle of Matanzas Creek 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma which has always been a favorite over the years. I have to say, it took a while for the sticker shock to fade, as the wine prices here are more than double the other side of the island (the $70 bottle we had on Monday was $140 here, which means it costs about $20-25 on the shelf at home!); the average starter was $20-25 and average main course was $40-55....enough said.
An amuse of small shrimp cocktail with mayo sauce and tomato was nice and refreshing, but I was not wowed.
Sam started with the Chicken Dumpling Soup loaded with mushrooms (which he left), bok choy, bamboo shoots and fried dumplings, as opposed to the softer wonton type. As I progress you will notice the Asian leaning of many of the dishes due to the origins of Aman and they even have a Vietnamese chef to oversee these dishes in the kitchen.
My starter was the most "chemical" I have seen here on the island and was deconstructed Cured Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon with Stone Fruits and an Idiazabal (Spanish cheese) cream. There was also a brittle, which I never did find out what it was, but it was yummy. The fish had a soft texture and almost melted as it had been cured sous-vide; an odd choice of cooking/smoking I have to say.
Will went Asian with the Tom Yung Goong-a sour shrimp soup which he said was lame as it had only four medium size shrimp. I have to agree that the portions needs to be a bit bigger when they are charging $25.
We moved on to a superb Nickel and Nickel 2012 Napa Chardonnay made with Truchard grapes and we have always adored the Truchard family and their wines. At $190 it was not a steal, but one of the least expensive chardonnays on the menu! Imagine that!
Will stayed Asian for his main with the Roti Jim Geng Kiaw Warn Neva-a yummy beef curry with roti, but he asked for it medium to spicy and it arrived bland....so he sent it back for a complete replacement, which was far superior. He felt the only thing the dish lacked was a bowl of rice, which would have made it go much further and be great for the sauce as well.
Samuel chose the Baby Chicken with Bok Choy and Sesame and enjoyed that fairly well, but the hit of the night was my Butter Poached South Caicos Lobster with roasted veggies and potatoes. You should understand that each year the lobster season starts here each year on a set date, and that was yesterday. WHAT LUCK! This was indeed the best Caribbean lobster ever, and divine with the wine.
There was a live musician sitting across the elegant pools that dissect the area where you dine and he was very good on his electric-like sax. There was a beautiful breeze and we indeed felt o so comfortable, which has not been the norm on most nights. My silk shirt did not melt!
The one thing that sorely needs fixing is the lighting on the path to the elegant rest room where it seems they clean up after each person leaves (are they watching us on closed circuit tv?) because there is never a dirty cloth in the bin or even a stray dirty Kleenex in the trash!
After dinner we headed to The Bar, where we are already friends with the bartender, Aldwin, who makes Sam the most awesome iced tea with guava juice as sweetener. I had a yummy cosmo-ish martini and Will had vodka-based drink loaded with basil juice and lemon which he adored, and so he should have for $20 a pop! Well, you only live once, and boy are loving living here like this.