Here on Bonaire we have a variety of cultural influences which make the island colorful and interesting. The same can be said about our local food called Kuminda Krioyo (Creole Food), a blend of flavors and techniques common in the Caribbean and South America, with some influences from Europe going back to colonial times. You can find local dishes in many restaurants, but to get a sense of real Krioyo food, there is one place that has made its name as one of the best - Rose Restaurant & Bar.
Back to the roots
Rose Restaurant & Bar is located at the Rose Inn in Rincon. Rincon, the second village on Bonaire, is the oldest and historically most interesting village of the two. The restaurant and bar is located in a wonderful setting. The old trees provide shade and the simple, but efficient, interior with murals gives you a view of how it was in the olden days.
It is not a place for lunch when you are in a hurry. Go and take your time in an atmosphere that will have a calming effect on you.
Rose Restaurant & Bar opened its doors in the beginning of 2000. Melfina, the owner, was born in Rincon. Even though she often left the island for long periods of time, eventually she returned to stay and bring local food to a new high that is enjoyed by many.
An Islanders Life
When she was only 3 years old, Melfina left to live with her grandmother on Curacao. In the old days, most families were poor and grandparents often took care of the children so the parents could work and take care of the family financially. Melfina’s grandmother took care of two boys, but always wished for a girl and asked to have Melfina live with her. Melfina enjoyed her time with her grandmother who was a dressmaker. Of course, she was able to make the latest fashion dresses for Melfina.
After finishing her education, she went back to Bonaire to help her other grandmother who was baking bread, cookies and cakes. Shortly after returning to the island, she became pregnant with her first child. When her mother decided that she wanted to move to the European Netherlands, Melfina joined her and took care of the children. In the Netherlands, she met her second husband, later known on the island as “Rooie Jan”, Red Jan, because of his red hair.
The two would frequently vacation on Bonaire and Jan fell in love with the island. Melfina was happy in the Netherlands with its seasons. In her garden they would grow all kinds of vegetables that she would use to cook and preserve for the winter season. In 1991, after 12 years in the Netherlands, Melfina and her family returned to the island to start a new life.
After working in kitchens for many years, starting at the BOPEC kitchen, Croccantino (now Orco Bank), The Dome (now a clothing store) and Buddy Dive, she was ready to start her own restaurant in Rincon in 2000. The restaurant that we now know as Rose Restaurant & Bar.
Rose Restaurant & Bar
In 2000, Rincon still had no place to eat local Krioyo food and Melfina became the first to offer a variety of Krioyo dishes daily. On weekends the Rose was the place to be, with live bands and dancing music. Around noon the place would fill up with hungry guests and people from all over the island who enjoyed ice cold beers and dancing. Her husband, Rooie Jan, would be the barman on weekends and even though he left us 13 years ago, you can still see him in the painting behind the bar.
After some health problems, Melfina had to slow down a bit and the restaurant is now open from Thursday through Sunday. The food still tastes the same and is prepared by Melfina herself and some family members who also know the secret recipes.
You will find a variety of stobas (stews) on the menu, including goat, beef, chicken and salted fish stobas, served with funchi (a polenta-like side dish), tutu (a black eyed pea side dish), fried plantain, salad, and rice and/or French fries. For the spice lover, you can add homemade pika (hot sauce). You will also find soup that changes daily such as fish soup, iguana soup or anything fresh.
What makes the food at Rose so special is the spice and herbs Melfina adds to the stews that give them bold and rich flavors unique on the island.
When you are a visitor to the island, you should definitely try the delicious Bonairean Krioyo food. As a resident, you should visit once in a while to remember the reason, besides the sun and the sea, that you chose Bonaire as your home. The restaurant and its atmosphere will bring you right back to those moments that make the island so special.
Rose Restaurant & Bar
Located: Rose Inn – Rincon
Open: Thursday – Sunday
Time: 9 am – 6 pm
Kitchen: until 4 pm
Pre order: + 599 796 15 26