We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Greatness Denied” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Restaurant Aaron

Restaurant Aaron
Apartado 1132 | Horned Dorset Primavera, Rincon 00677, Puerto Rico
800-633-1857
Website
Improve this listing
Ranked #60 of 79 Restaurants in Rincon
Cuisines: International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Doing business, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Reservations
Mayaguez
Top Contributor
135 reviews 135 reviews
91 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
“Greatness Denied”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 21, 2014

SUMMATION: The entire dinner was not bad, just hilariously wrong, to the extreme of being entertaining. They attempted to juxtaposition 7 conflicting cuisines, used incorrect ingredients, made flawed preparations, had false menu names, and employed a wait staff unaware of formal service niceties. They used no silver, China, crystal, linen, or antique service furniture. Because of the cost and the reputation of this restaurant, they must be judged at a higher level.

NAME: Aaron (Restaurant) at the Horned Dorset Primavera (Hotel) [1]

TITLE: “Greatness Denied” [Tripadvisor, review #82, 21 June 2014]

E-MAIL: info@horneddorset.com

TELEPHONES: (787) 823-4030, (800) 633-1857

WEB PAGE: www.horneddorset.com

RESERVATIONS: essential

HOURS OF OPERATION: For this event: 6 pm for cocktails, 7 pm for the concert, and 8 pm for dinner; usual schedule: noon-2 pm (lunch), 7-9 pm (dinner), open Thursday-Sunday (April-November)

OWNERS: Harold Davies, Kingsley Wratten [1] and Wilhelm Sack

CHEF: Emanuel Aquinoa (Tito)

GENERAL MANAGER: Wilhelm Sack

LOCALITY: Horned Dorset Primavera, PR-423, km 3.0, Rincon, Puerto Rico 00677

MAILING ADDRESS: Horned Dorset Primavera, Apartado 1132, Rincon, Puerto Rico 00677

DIFFICULTY LOCATING: Relatively easy, except the turn onto PR-423 can sometimes be missed. The sign for their driveway, on the left of PR-423 is rather small.

DIRECTIONS: From PR-2 turn onto PR-115 and then onto PR 423 for 3.0 km.

OCCASION: Our 40th Anniversary with a group for cocktails on the terrace by the sea, concert of the music of the Sons of Bach [2], and dinner ($85 + 7% tax & 18% service = $106.25 x 2 + drinks). We had a party of 7, which was 37% of the guests [3].

PARKING: adequate, quaint

VIEW: There is a nice ocean and beach view. The sunset was disappointingly to the far left of the restaurant and largely hidden. There were small rainsqualls on the horizon.

SUGGESTED ATTIRE: Island Formal. The down stairs Blue Room is less formal. I wore a coat, but no tie. One fellow was in a long-sleeve, white guayabera and the other guys wore short-sleeve shirts. No tee-shirts or shorts are permitted.

CHILDREN: Children 6 and younger are not permitted

AIR-CONDITIONED: yes, in Aaron

OUTSIDE SEATING: Desert and after-dinner drinks are sometime served on the balcony. Lunch is on the balcony.

LAYOUT: Follow their drive through a series of turns to a few parking places, follow the step-stone path through the garden to the swimming pool. A pair of, high, half-spiral, stone stairways lead up to Aaron's elegant dining room, which has black-and-white marble floors, chandeliers with ruby-red shades, and an antique Steinway. There is a narrow balcony off the restaurant.

DÉCOR: Neo-colonial Architecture; large, cotton (not linen) napkins, folded into a roll, and tablecloths; interesting decorations including a folding wooden screen. There was a lit candle on each table. The chairs were neither old or of high quality. They had a cushion, but the chair backs were uncomfortable. Under the cotton tablecloth, the table was a rough board with a torn green, paper cover. The piano was sitting on a thin, frayed, old rug.

FLOWERS: There was a giant arrangement of mostly palm frons and banana leaves as one entered the restaurant. An arrangement of cruz de Malta (Maltese Cross), on each table, was rather plain. There were 20 water hyacinths about to bloom in the large metal tank in front of the restaurant. A large, pink frangipani (Plumeria) was in full bloom on the front left of the restaurant.

MUSIC: was of the “Sons of Bach” [2] preformed by the Dorset Chambers Players (professional musicians from the Conservatory in San Juan). Mitton Davila, flute; Karlo Flores, violin; Emanuel Olivieri, viola; Sheila Ortiz, violoncello.

SPECIALS: This event was a special. They only seem to inform the former guests of specials and do not advertise widely. You should join their list.

BEER: I did not see any, but they must have some. Not really a beer place.

WINE: My First Mate found 2 glasses of white wine excellent during the cocktail hour and a glass of red wine absolutely marvelous at dinner. The only problem was that they served white wine twice in a red wine glass. Over oxidizing a good white is unforgivably crass. A glass was $14.

DRINKS: Fairly promptly served, except in the second half of the cocktail hour when a few guests had to walk to the bar for service. Gin and tonics were served in the correct glasses, which is rare these days. The patio is narrow and not very large. There were only 4 chairs and a couch. We had to bring out more chairs for our group.

BAR: full service

WATER: Disappointingly, in good quality pressed glasses, not crystal.

CUISINE: Caribbean-French Fusion [This meal was Spanish, British, Californian, Greek, Caribbean, French, and German with only 1 minor Caribbean and only 2 minor French items.]

MENU FORMAT: For this event, they had an online menu and a card menu for us after we arrived. There was also a listing of the music. The regular menu is elegant, formal, with no pictures

MENU ITEMS: http://horneddorsetliving.com/restaurantaaronmenu.pdf is an old menu online.
The “7 course tasting meal” ($125 + 7% tax & 18% service = $156.25 + drinks) changes every day.

WAIT STAFF: The female maitre’d/waiter and 2 waiters were excellent, except 1 waiter poured a whole glass of champagne on my right hand and sleeve. They did not know on which side to serve and on which to clear. This posed a very chaotic spectacle. They did not serve the women first, which is rude in a formal setting. They cleared more than 2 plates at a time, which is ghastly, thoughtless, and dangerous.

BREAD: Delicious and probably home-baked. Sections of smaller diameter loaves were served toasted and hot, in a basket, and wrapped in a cloth. Hot bread was served twice during the meal.

APPETIZERS: These were served during the cocktail hour. Pita bread points, cold parsley in cream cheese dip [4], hot cheddar cheese palmiers (French puff pastry swirls) [5] (excellent), chorizo (Spanish sausage) (okay) [6]. They refilled the appetizers.

SOUP: The “Chilled” tomato and sweet pepper soup [7] was served hot in a large rim soup bowl. This was a cream soup with the tomato and pepper flavors distinct. My First Mate thought it was wonderful, but I would only rate it good.

SALAD: Around 4 tablespoons of fresh, ground Yellowfin Tuna “tartar” [=tartare] [8] pressed into a small brick, which my First Mate liked, but I thought had little taste. I have had much better raw tuna. With 2 orange sections, alfalfa sprouts, 2 tiny flower blossoms, a few tiny cubes of red and green bell pepper, and slivers of yucca” [=yuca] “chips” [=slivers] on top of the tuna [9]. A thin circle of undetermined green sauce imprisoned the salad.

SORBET: The coconut “sorbet” they served was not a sorbet [10]. This was a creamy, sweet desert that could not possibly cleanse the pallet. Someone does not understand the purpose of a sorbet.

ENTRÉE: The cardinal sin of Beef Wellington is not keeping the pastry crisp. Their version mushed the pastry into a disgusting paste. This dish had absolutely no relationship to Beef Wellington [11]. The presentation was of a horrifying soggy mess. The meat was not tenderloin, but pieces of eye-of-round. There was nothing inside the soggy former pastry but meat. I had dreamed of Foie Gras [11a], but this meat was not coated with any kind of liver, and no marvelous Duxelles [9b], but a simple mushroom sauce was poured over the top of the pastry ruining it [12]. The flavor of the beef was good, but it was overcooked, a bit tough, and had not been completely trimmed. How they made the meat both drowned and dry was somewhat of a mystery. My portion was very large. They served larger portions to the men.

SIDES: outrageously scant amount of caramelized onions [13], “peas and carrots” [=snow pea pods (n=5), white asparagus (n=1), green asparagus (n=1), yellow crook-neck squash and zucchini (n=half of 1 slice each) [14], and baby Lebanese white bush marrow [15]

SAUCES: I never saw any bordelaise sauce [16]. The simple mushroom sauce was (A) not Duxelles, (B) not placed inside the pastry, and (C) made a soggy disaster of the pastry [11, 12].

SALT AND PEPPER: none provided

SILVERWARE: Disappointingly, they served good quality, matched-pattern, stainless steel, but not silver. Dinner forks, dinner knife (placed incorrectly), round soup spoon, stainless steak knife, and table spoon. The tablespoon for desert should have been a desert spoon. A salad fork would have been better for the tartare.

TABLEWARE: Disappointingly, they served good quality, matched-pattern porcelain, not China. Butter was in 2 Mauviel M’tradition stainless steel and porcelain butter dishes [17]. See soup bowl above.

SERVING TIME: Good except a lull between desert and the checks.

DESERT: Great desert, but it was not “apple strudel” [18], and the “vanilla ice cream” was French vanilla ice cream [19].

COST COMPARISON: This restaurant is supposed to be expensive, but it is also supposed to be excellent.

BILL: Accurate and handled quickly and well. They add the 18% tip.

NOISE LEVEL: Quiet. Light surf made pleasant wave music on the patio.

ENVIROMENTAL: Foie Gras [11a] is illegal in some places because the birds are often force-fed and this is considered animal abuse. They did not use it in this meal, but have served it in the past.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Purchase a cookbook. Either prepare all these dishes accurately, or call them by other names. Nothing was correct. Do not insult the customer with micro amounts of a menu-advertised item (e.g., glazed onions).

AWARDS: Certificate of Excellence (2013, Tripadvisor). How could they give them this award, when they rated them so low? Relais & Châteaux Member since 1993

REVIEWS: Tripadvisor rated Good, 3.5 out of 5, 29 reviews; SAL rated Excellent, 5 out of 5, 392 reviews [20]; Google rated Terrible, 1 out of 5, but only had 1 inadvertent review mixed in with the hotel reviews; Oyster rated Very Good, 4 out of 5, however, the number of reviews not stated.

HISTORY: The seawall and a small structure were built in 1890. A Hungarian, who had fled the Russian invasion in 1956, constructed the restaurant building in the 1960s. It was originally opened as a bar. The owners bought it from him in 1987 and refurbished the building. The restaurant opened in 1988. It was originally call the Restaurant of the Horned Dorset Primavera. In 2009, it was named “Aaron.” Chef Aaron Wratton was the Chef and the son of one of the original founders of the restaurant [1]. He was there from 1997 to 2010 and is now Chef of the original Horned Dorset Inn Restaurant in Leonardsville, New York. He is still supervising the new Chef here.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: I thank Wilhelm Sack for kindly providing information and for his excellent hospitality.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] Named for Chef and son of one of the founders/owners, Aaron Wratten, who trained in France and worked at New York's Daniel and Aureole. He is now the Chef at the original Horned Dorset Inn in Leonardsville, New York [1a] and supervising the present Chef here. “Dorset Horned” is a breed of sheep.
[1a] http://www.horneddorsetinn.com/home.html
[2] They advertised music of the “Sons of Bachs,” but only played the music of 1 son, Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782). Half of the audience did not know when to applaud. They, irritatingly, never caught on through the entire concert.
[3] There were 19 guests. We were at a rectangular table, an adjacent round table has a guy and 5 women (go figure), and on the side were 3 smaller tables with couples.
[4] This was so bland that we could not tell if the green bits were cilantro or parsley. Since parsley has less taste, I would guess the latter.
[5] Palmiers are a lazy Chef’s canapés. They would have been better with roasted red pepper.
[6] Better than most local chorizo, not as fat and greasy, but still only chorizo.
[7] This is a variety of “Gazpacho,” which is Spanish, not French.
[8] Tuna Tartare is from Californian (USA). They spelled this “Tartar,” which has 3 different meanings: the hardened plaque on your teeth, an ethnic group in Russia, or a sauce made with mayonnaise, mustard, chives, chopped gherkins, and tarragon. More confusingly, Tartar Sauce is sometimes served with Steak Tartare. Tartare began as a very bad Tartar dish and precipitated “Hamburger” in Germany. Tartar Sauce was named for the Tartars, but they had nothing to do with it.
[9] Finally, something Caribbean. They spelled this “Yucca,” which is an entirely different plant. They meant “Yuca” or cassaba. This was not served as a “chip,” but as several yuca shavings.
[9a] I could not taste the orange vinaigrette dressing (Ancient Greek origin), but may be that is what darkened the tuna?
[10] Sorbet does not contain dairy products or coconut milk.
[11] Beef Wellington is most certainly British, not French, although it has some French ingredients. Steak (tenderloin is best) wrapped in liver pâté (Foie Gras [11a] is best), and Duxelles [11b] in a puff pastry. A dish clearly stolen from the French “filet de bœuf en croute” (=crusted beef tenderloin).
A good friend has made Beef Wellington 5 times for others and us and he is not even English. While always good, his dish was only excellent a cherished once. He uses a beef tenderloin and chicken liver. His worst effort was incredibly superior to that served at the Aaron.
[11a] Foie Gras (French for “fat liver”) is liver from over fed duck or goose. Aaron served Foie Gras 30 July 2013; therefore, they could have obtained it for their Beef Wellington. Foie Gras is a delicacy in Europe, USA, and China. France produces most of it.
[11b] Duxelles is a finely chopped (minced) mixture of dehydrated mushrooms or mushroom stems, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter, and reduced to a paste of Roman origin.
[12] This was a simple mushroom sauce, not the proper Duxelles [11b]. It was most horribly poured over the pastry, which is an abysmal error. A paste should have been inside the pastry. This had fresh mushrooms, when it should have had dehydrated ones.
[13] Only a pitiful one third of a teaspoon was served. This was not enough to even taste. I really had to search through the vegetables to find it. This was outrageously poor!
[14] This would have been an awful plebeian dish for such a fancy meal; however, the online menu was fortunately incorrect and the menu card incorrectly listed no vegetables.
[15] This is a white, summer squash originating in Lebanon, Cucrbita pepo var. fastigata., but now widely grown.
[16] Finally, something French; however, this sauce is not served with Beef Wellington. It is made from dry red wine, bone marrow, butter, shallots, and demi-glace sauce [made by combining equal parts of veal stock and espagnole [Spanish] sauce (one of the five mother sauces of classical French cuisine; made with a very dark brown roux, to which veal stock or water is added, browned bones, pieces of beef, vegetables, and various seasonings. This blend is allowed to slowly reduce while being frequently skimmed. Additional veal stock is added as the liquid gradually reduces. Tomato paste or pureed tomatoes are added and the sauce is further reduced) and the mixture is then simmered and reduced by half.].
[16] Made in Normandy, France, where we recently visited. I had never seen one. They go for around $86.
[17] This was wonderful, but it was not apple strudel. This had a marvelous thin, puff pastry, but apple strudel has a layered pastry. Theirs was a closed square with upward flared corners, but apple strudel is a flatten log with open ends. Strudel is a German word for an Austrian pastry.

  • Visited May 2014
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

30 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    12
    6
    5
    4
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Jerusalem, Israel
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
“Well served”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2014 via mobile

My husband and I ate at Restaurant Aaron several times while staying at The Villas at Horned Dorset. The first night we had the grilled lobster and it was so delicious. Later in the week we sat out on the patio for breakfast and lunch, both tasty. The ambiance at RA was amazing to hear the waves crashing under the balcony we expected to get a splash but didn't. The last night there I couldn't resist getting the lobster again but this time it came out better than I remembered. My husband had the prefixed meal of sirloin and that was very good. The service was superb from Waldemar serving up tapas at sunset to the perfectly timed dinner presentation.
Bravo to the staff of Realis Chateaux

Visited February 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Don't go on a Tuesday night in January!!!!!!!”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2014 via mobile

We've been here 2x before tonight & it was a great dining experience.Those visits took place in March.Tonight was a very special occasion for our friend.His 80th bday.I called ahead the week before & made arrangements to have a formal dinner in the DINING SALON not in the cafe.I was told it would be a lovely and special evening.Simply a formal dinner in the main DINING ROOM for the 4 of us.We arrived had cocktails on the terrace.It was great. We then were ready for dinner & we were seated in the cafe portion of the restaurant.The short of this review is to tell you the meal was terrible.Too salty.Meat & fish rubbery, simply not edible.We were told it was not there busy season.??????? Don't go in their slow season. I guess that was the reason for a waste of time & money & an unhappy bday celebration. Very disappointed and sad. Guess I'll go in March, or maybe not.

Visited January 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reston, Virginia, United States
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“New Years Eve Dinner and Drinks”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2014

I was surprised at how poor the food and service were for a Relais & Chateaux. We realized the dinner would be expensive but were wiling to book the dinner on New Years Eve for great imaginative food and great service and received neither. The wine list was extremely limited and we had to, sometimes, make requests for service. The ambiance was wonderful and the location was perfect. In our view, at least from our limited experience, the property is being encumbered by it's management.

    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
saltaire
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Time for a new restaurant manager”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2013

We frequently attend the monthly concerts with dinner and thoroughly enjoyed this year's Christmas concert. The dinner service was another story all together; it was extremely disappointing.

I can understand that attempting to serve 75 +/- at the same time is a big challenge but the service was unbearable and only made worse by the rudest 'restaurant manager' we have ever met. I cannot believe that the behavior of this woman is what is to be expected of "Relaix & Chateau" as we have visited others in Europe and experienced truly fine dining.

The short story of this nights fiasco was that it took forever for the main course to be served even though it was a set menu for the event with the only option being fish for beef. Our table of six noted that the manager insisted on helping serve the entree instead of letting the waiters do their job. She only managed to mix up all of the plates. My wife ordered beef but prefers hers to be well done, so when her rather raw beef was delivered I asked the manager to exchange it. One would have thought I was asking for the world as she snidely asked if anyone else at our table had a problem with their food. The raw beef was thereafter replaced with a suitably cooked version.

My adult daughter and I opted for the fish dinner which we were told was to be Mahi Mahi. We were not disappointed when we were served Wahoo instead but there was nothing special about the fish. After a few bites of her fish my daughter told me that her fish smelled fishy and did not seem to be cooked through. She called the manager over and commented to her about the fish and was hoping to simply have the plate removed without replacement. Unfortunately this is when things started to get ugly with the manager. The manager started arguing with my daughter about whether the fish was supposed to Mahi or Wahoo; went on to tell her that the fish was fresh that day, made no attempt to appease her, and then made my daughter feel totally unwelcome.

I ate all of my fish but it wasn't anything special. Unfortunately I had to endure my daughter's complaints to the entire table as to the rude treatment that she had received from the manager. After about ten minutes of her complaints I asked the manager to come over. I told the manager, as pleasantly as I could, that she had been rude to my daughter and had insulted her and that I would appreciate it very much if she would simply apologize to my daughter so that she would calm down. That was not to be. The manager went in to a tirade, which was loud enough to be heard throughout the dining room,and which only ended when she told me that she did not need my business and I should not come anymore. I should think one would have to be crazy to want to go back to the Horned Dorset, pay an exorbitant amount for an average meal, and then endure the abuse of the restaurant manager. Oh what fun! Absent the concert there is no reason to go to the Horned Dorset for a pleasant dinner.

The restaurant manager is doing a disservice to the entire resort. If she were working at the drive-up window of a fast food joint one could expect to have their french fries thrown at them.

I did speak to the resort manager about this situation before departing that night and he could not believe what I was telling him. I would have thought that he was already aware of the incident since he was sitting just two tables away from us. Stop denying that this woman is hurting your business.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Restaurant Aaron also viewed

Rincon, Puerto Rico
Rincon, Puerto Rico
 
Rincon, Puerto Rico
 

Been to Restaurant Aaron? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Restaurant Aaron, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.