OK, how best to post the notes on the Kauai and Oahu (North Shore & Honolulu), so that they do the most good? After a few days of contemplation, while on various airlines heading back to AZ and the Mainland, then to London and back, I’ve decided to post under one heading, but then do a separate “Reply” under that main article. I hope that the administrators do not take offense to this method. I decided that, rather than one very, very long article, reflecting restaurants on two islands, it would be easier on the reader, if they could just view the reviews, that interest them, or might fit into their itinerary.
I’ve reflected on my dining experiences, and also on previous articles/reviews of some of these restaurants. One thing that stuck out in my mind was that I was finding vastly divergent reviews of the same dining spots. Well, I thought, maybe it was just a matter of the reviewers’ tastes. Or, perhaps, it was predicated on the night that the reviewer dined at a specific location. Hm-m, maybe something else was afoot... After 16 days of dining around Kauai (Poipu Area), the North Shore of Oahu and Honolulu, I think that it was this “something else.” I’d call this whole set of reviews “The Tale of Two Entrees.”
My wife and I have similar tastes and grade a meal on like criteria. This trip was very interesting, as it was first an anniversary celebration, the significance of the meals was stated at the time of the reservations and almost every meal was in a “high-end” restaurant with reservations made up to six months in advance. There are no real “family-dining” establishments covered and certainly no “cheap eats.” In many of the restaurants, I had requested a floral arrangement to be placed on the table in the earlier dinners on each island, or side-of-island, and a rose for almost all other occasions. Each restaurant knew, in advance, that this was in celebration. Many probably thought that the actual night that we dined there was THE night, but the trip was actually seven months after the anniversary, but was in celebration of it - as was the entire trip. What was odd was that my wife always ended up with the lesser of almost every entree - almost EVERY dinner! As we most often order separate courses, and then share, this was not a real problem, but it was uncanny that she always seemed to get the lesser of the dishes. I think that this might attribute, in part, to the variations in previous reviews. If one were to have ordered exactly as my wife did, and the course delivered was as her’s were, I’d expect to see some lower scores. In my case, however, if one followed my choices and got the same courses that I did, the reviews would have been glowing. Odd, in all respects. Some of these restaurants were “resort” dining destinations, but many were “free-standing,” chef-driven establishments. With only one exception, nothing was bad , just uneven.
In all, the dining was very good, to great. I would recommend almost any of these establishments with but a few caveats. The only regret that I have is that there were too many restaurants and too little time. With one exception, I’d go back to all of these. Some are a definite must-return-to. A few new comers (to me) are now on my Must-Dine list, and an old favorite is on shaky ground.
I also need to note that our meals always include wine (breakfast being an exception, and also not reviewed here). Wine, wine glassware and wine service are all part of what makes a dining experience “special” to us. All reviews include comments on this aspect of our dining. Also, for us, the total dining experience is figured into the reviews. I know that ambiance cannot replace good food, and that good food cannot excuse bad service, but I try to weigh every aspect of the experience, when doing the critiques. Without attempting to devise a Robert Parker, Jr, 100 Point scale, I’ll state that the reviews are roughly:
50 pts Food - ingredients, preparation/cooking, innovation, presentation, plating and any special aspect.
25 pts Wine - selection, wine-service, glassware, price/value and special consideration for wines by-the-glass and half-bottle selections.
15 pts Service - all aspects from the telephone/Internet reservations, the host/hostess, and how the meal is handled, including the replacement of used utensils and bussing of dishes.
10 pts Ambiance - everything from decorations, noise-level and furniture to spacing of the tables.
All prices are in US $ and reflect the cost of the meal, the cost of the wine, some of which was rather expensive and the tip, which usually ran between 15% and 20% with a few exceptions up to about 22%. In almost all cases the tip was based on the total cost of the meal, including wine.
 In the case of the bad course, a replacement was quickly placed on the table, the offending preparation was removed from the service area, and, though not requested, the cost of this course was deducted from the bill.
Note: It seems that some of my accents and diacriticals are not translating from the wordprocessor to the Web site with Ctrl-c/Ctrl-v, so please excuse this fault. Also, I have decided to not use the Hawaiian “`”, except where the chef included it in the menu. Last comment, before we go review some restaurants - Spell Checkers are only as good as their databases. When it comes to Hawaiian names, etc. almost every other word gets flagged, so it makes doing an actual Spell Check extremely time consuming. For the ingredients and preparations, I copied what the chef, server, host/hostess gave me. What you see is how they spelled that item.