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“Great Service and Great View”
Review of 53 by the Sea

53 by the Sea
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Ranked #58 of 2,527 Restaurants in Honolulu
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $30
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Olomehani St.
Description: Designed around its breathtaking view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, 53 By The Sea offers you the opportunity to experience Hawaii dining like never before. Delight at Chef Thomas Ho’s artistry as he combines fresh local ingredients with succulent seafoods and the finest hand-cut meats. Just as exquisite are the melodic sounds of local pianists playing on the Italian made Fazioli piano in the adjacent T’s at 53 lounge, featuring wines and spirits from around the globe. 53 By The Sea is truly a celebration for all the senses!
Reviewed March 14, 2013

I loved the setting and I especially liked the drive to get there. It always scares people when we head into an industrial area but when you arrive at this palace, you completely forget where you are at!! Food was good but not fabulous

Thank ASM129
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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159 - 163 of 250 reviews

Reviewed March 11, 2013

Let's get the misses over with first so we can proceed to some very nice hits:

To begin with, the service tends to be a little spotty. At first it was somewhat rushed, and it seems as if they're trying to get rid of you as soon as possible. The waitress seemed a little bit uninterested, but at least the bus boys were personable, friendly and helpful. To get a sommelier took some doing as our waitress seemed to be more interested in chatting with her friend than helping customers, something that should NEVER happen in a fine dining restaurant. If the help is going to chat, please do it out of sight. When the wine finally DID arrive, I was shocked to find that, since we had ordered wine by the glass, the glass had already been somewhat filled (less than a third) and it was just plunked down with no ceremony or tasting. Not good. Although the wine was pretty good, it was nothing special, and as far as I knew, no label or anything being displayed, it could have just been a plain old screwtop bottle.

Although the ambience is definitely elegant and grand, you would be hard put to find any evidence that you were in a restaurant in Hawaii unless you looked out the window. In its old incarnation you felt very much as if you were in a grand Hawaiian location, with fish ponds, trees, flowers, etc. In this place you might well be in a very elegant New York restaurant. Indeed, the dining room reminded me of one of my favorite New York spots. By the way, it was the proverbial dark and stormy night when we went, so seeing Waikiki and Diamond Head was chancy at best.

Okay, enough of the criticisms, now on to the good things:

First, the drink I ordered was absolutely perfect! I love Hendricks gin, and whenever I can find it I have it with tonic. Now a classic version of a Hendricks gin and tonic should feature a slice of cucumber. Well, this is the very first time in many years of ordering this drink that it had that nice slice of cucumber, and although I really hate cucumbers, having it in this drink made it perfect. So kudos to the bartender. And by the way, one of the other reviews said the bar wasn't very great, but I disagree. It's the one place in the room where you felt a Hawaiian vibe.

The food was pretty good, although I wouldn't call it sensational. I had the rack of lamb, and the meat was excellent and perfectly medium rare. I thought the sauce was a little on the mustardy side, and the veggies and potatoes left much to be desired, the latter being what looked like the little diced potatoes you'd use in hash. My companion had a veal chop and it was reported to be excellent. For my appetizer I had a sensational tomato bisque, which was laced with basil oil and basil leafs and was just perfect. I could have had more of that and been very satisfied. My companion had a papaya salad, which was reported to be sort of a "cole slaw kind of thing."

Service during dinner went smoothly, with plenty of replenishment of breads and things, although I would have liked perhaps to have another drink.

Dessert for me was a lemon cake which had just the right amount of sourness and sweetness. As it was my birthday I was given a wonderful plate of desserts, ice creams and fruit with "happy birthday" spelled out in chocolate. A great finish to the meal and, as another reviewer stated, without the phony singing (bellowing) of "Happy Birthday," that most inane of songs. My companion's dessert was some kind of eggplant concoction which was reported to be "interesting" but a bit slimy. I wouldn't touch such a thing with a ten foot pole.

So all in all, this was a pretty good meal, with the caveats I've mentioned above. I'd definitely recommend it but be prepared for a few misses along with the hits.

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2  Thank Whitsiepoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2013

This is a fairly new restaurant in the Waikiki area but i must say it is awesome. It is a short cab ride from the Waikiki hotels but worth the added cost if you are looking for fine dining. The views are spectacular and service was very attentive but not overly to the point you felt rushed. The food is very good and not over proced as portions are nice as well. It is worth the effort to visit this fine establishment.

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Thank David S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 3, 2013

This was my first lunch visit to 53 By the Sea. We brought a mainland guest for lunch and wanted to avoid Waikiki. I had a little trouble finding the restaurant - thought I was lost as I drove past multiple tents of "houseless" dwellers. Once I came upon the restaurant, it took my breath; its beautiful. The valet staff were so courteous. (Valet parking is no charge except a gratuity). Upon entering the massive doors, I was greeted by warm, friendly hostesses. Our table was beautifully set; we sat along the window with a view of diamond head and the surfers at Ala Moana Beach. I don't think there's a "bad" seat in the entire restaurant. Our waiter, Chad was very polite and attentive. I was surprised that all the entrees came with bread, appetizers and a dessert; at a price of about $20-$28/person. One might consider this a pricey lunch; however it is well worth it. Everything was delicious and beautifully presented! We can't wait to return again.

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Thank HawaiiAndi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2013

We discovered this out of the way gem when searching for the perfect, non-touristy (and thus not over-priced under-quality) place to celebrate. One couple their 25th and the other couple's engagement on the beach.

The moment we drove up (after driving through an old industrial zone near Ala Moana Mall), our expectations soared. Greeted warmly and with enthusiasm by the Valet Parking attendant, we stepped out of the car to be greeted by 2 20+ft front doors being opened by the doorman... wow, nice way to set the tone.

The inside of the property is beautiful and as you make your way to the hostess podium around the grand staircase to the Hostess, the view of all Waikiki Beach opens up from the floor to ceiling windows. The thought was instantly: "We Think We Chose The Right Place. Hope the food is as good as the ambience."

The service was quick and top notch (despite the restuarant being packed). The cocktails were done with quality ingredients (Manhattan, Cosmo).

We were there on a Sunday evening at 8pm - probably a time for you to avoid as there were a few items on the menu no longer available which was disappointing.

The appetisers were above average, but not spectacular. Lobster Bisque and Papaya salad was smaller than expected given the price.

But where this restuarant hits its mark is in the main course - especially the fish. The Sea Bass was done PERFECTLY, the accompanying veg were done to perfection as well. Not too big, not too small - just right.

The big winner of the night was the Lobster Linguine. There was none of the typical scrimping on the Lobster. A big meal that they prepare for you at your table (nice touch).

To top it all off, they paid attention that it was a celebratory dinner and they brought both couples out a large plate of desert & fruit with "Congratulations" written in chocolate. (so make sure when you book, you tell them what you are celebrating!)

Given then location, view, quality and ambience one would expect the prices to be much higher than they are. A few blocks back in the Waikiki strip you would be paying at least 25% more and receive lower quality.

We rate it as a solid "Worth The Journey!" and will be returning again on our next trip.

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Thank TheBestCook
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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