I scoured the board before leaving for the Big Island and got some great ideas which all turned out to be in fact great, except one. And a big one it was.
First of all, Merriman's, Cafe Pesto, Daniel Thiebaut and Jameson's were all very good. Jameson's more for the spectacular view from their terrace over the ocean but still good chow. Merriman's was the best of the bunch. Very creative Hawaiian with impressive local ingredients.
The low? Brown's at the Fairmount Orchid.
I read about the Masa grill dinner you can preorder from Brown's for a very special and expensive beach front dinner. Sounded great.
I called and was told that such reservations needed to be made thru the concierge (warning!!!), which is the sign of a poorly run operation in my experience.
I spoke to a fellow who understood what I wanted but didn't ask many questions or offer much info other than I needed to make an appearance at the hotel to fill out my food preorder at least 24 hours ahead. So I dutifully made a special and inconvenient drive to the Fairmount (yeah, I know the Fairmount...)where I checked in at the concierge desk, filled out the form and wrote the day of my reservation in big letters on the front. We arrive on the appointed day and appear at Brown's, give our name and after a little curious whispering between the hostesses we were seated at a table and given menus. I said that we were here for the Masa Grill and she said oh so sorry come with me. We return to the desk and are immediately whisked out to the ocean front to a table with rocks, dirt and wet towels draped all over it. The guy looks a puzzled and says he'll be right back. 10 minutes later a new guy comes and says oh so sorry we do not have a reservation for you. You canceled and checked out yesterday. I said well here we are, we never checked in so I'm sure we didn't check out, now what about our dinner. Well he couldn't provide Masa grill on no notice and so I expected him to offer instead to give us the table at Brown's that we were originally seated at. No he couldn't do that since the reataurant was booked solid until 9PM. I asked why we were originally seated then. No answer. What we were offerred instead was that dirty beach table and the bar menu. Something any one walking up could have achieved by default.
So I went to the front desk. I asked for a manager. Again puzzlement. I am finally presented to someone who is not a manager but is the oldest person on staff at the moment. I explain to her what happened.
She never asked for names, dates, descriptions or anything. All she wanted to know was had we eaten yet (!!!hello!!!) and if not, she could recommend the BAR.
I kept thinking I was in Saigon trying to catch the last plane out and no one was in charge, they'd all left already.
So I sign up for the signature Brown's/Fairmount experience and wind up with nothing. Zip. And no one cared. And no one offered to make it right. What a great hotel. Tell anyone thinking of a Masa grill dinner at Brown's to bring a film crew. America needs to see these clowns in action.