Had dinner here in late January 2014, with an early reservation (which may largely explain the disparity that we encountered with service versus many of those recent reviews complaining about service who apparently ate later when the restaurant was more crowded). Overall, it was a combination of exceeding our expectations and underwhelming them.
Our server was excellent, he was perfectly prompt, polite, friendly but not too familiar or intrusive, interesting, gave good recommendations, and enthusiastically responded to our inquiry of whether he had worked the night the previous month that the First Family had visited. Timing of delivery of courses was perfect, water glasses were refilled promptly, everything was excellent with two tiny exceptions, only one attributable to our waiter: he gave pretty meager pours from our two bottles of wine, and the manager should have stepped in to escort a mom with a screaming infant out of the restaurant but instead waited for her to finally decide to take her baby out of the restaurant ten minutes later.
We had the Keahole Lobster “Escargot” Style, which was very good, essentially lobster chunks served with melted butter and garlic. The lobster was perfectly cooked and with the two simple ingredients of butter and garlic to accent it, there was no
I was in the mood for something with an Asian flavor to it and had the shrimp and clams linguine in chili coconut lemongrass basil sauce. The basic flavor was good, but familiar, with a pretty standard red coconut curry sauce that I've had in half a dozen Thai restaurants. However, that sauce was too heavily salted and I would have sent it back but for not wanting to upset our family member who was treating us to this dinner. That family member ordered the ginger crusted onaga, long-tail red snapper miso sesame vinaigrette, hamakua mushroom & corn, which she found delightful; I tried it and it was a pretty non-descript fish dish with a mildly pleasant sauce with a soy sauce flavor to it, pretty good but not spectacular. My spouse had the Kuahiwi Ranch beef tenderloin with Hollandaise Keahole lobster, and spicy Hawaii Island Goat Dairy chevre. For over 25 years I have noticed exactly what we encountered with that steak, namely, that it is always a bad decision to order a steak from a high-end restaurant that does not specialize in steaks, as invariably it will be an USDA Choice piece of meat, never a premium cut of meat and never a good value. That was entirely the case with this tenderloin - it was tender, but not entirely flavorful and rather than the between medium and medium-well temperature that was requested, it was medium-rare and undercooked.
The desserts were probably the finest desserts I've ever had from any restaurant, well worth the very premium price charged. I had The Coconut, which was a semi-spherical chocolate shell encrusted with shaved coconut and filled with a sorbet that was slightly coconut, slightly vanilla in flavor and it was so artfully constructed, it looked like a small, real half-coconut. The flavors were superb and it might be the finest dessert I've ever had. We also had the pineapple shave ice and it was similarly outstanding, with intense natural pineapple flavor, with perfectly restrained sweetness levels. The Waialua Chocolate “Crunch Bars” were a divine mix of chocolate and crunchy macadamia nuts. They also have a broad coffee selection of very high-end gourmet coffee, much of it priced like a port or sherry at a slightly lower end restaurant.
Overall, I would have to say that our meal would have been a significant disappointment, but for the outrageously delicious desserts and the excellent service. The entrees were all flawed and for perhaps the most famous restaurant in Hawaii - the very favorite restaurant of President Barrack Obama - there is simply no excuse for an over-salted curry, a pleasant but uninspired fish dish, and an undercooked, mediocre steak. This was one of the more expensive restaurants I've ever visited, and the value was not high. I probably would only visit here again if I could get a late reservation, just for desserts.
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