i was on the big island 5/23-5/29. thanks to my parents, i got to eat at more upscale places than usual!
Merriman's Waimea - after hearing all the rave reviews on chowhound, i was expecting a more formal and stuffy atmosphere, however there was no hint of pretension. the place was small and casual. staff were dressed casually and allowed visible tattoos and piercings (fine in my book). we were there for lunch and i was suprised how reasonable prices were (the dinnertime menu was expensive tho). i had a fish sandwich for about $14 and it was excellent. we also shared ahi poke. the seasoning was right on, but i have never had this extreme grade of sashimi quality fish as poke. what a treat! the food was bursting with freshness and flavor. you HAVE to try this place and lunch here is affordable.
Merriman's Market Cafe - sausage pizza for $13. nice personal size. crispy crunch. i was surprised here that the prices were about the same as Merriman's Waimea for lunch. good stuff.
Ruth's Chris Mauna Lani - ordered new york strip blue rare. it came out almost medium and the server noticed and asked if i wanted a new one, which i did. the second cut of meat came out with a pepper crust (?), which was actually ok, as i like pepper and would have seasoned it from the pepper shaker. this time the center of the meat was still cold (hooray), but it was still cooked a little. it was a good steak, just not as good as many of the wonderful meals i have had at other ruth's chris locations. i have decided recently (and not based merely on this ruth's chris review), that i will stop ordering steak at restaurants and just eat flash fried steak at home, as it is hard to get as rare as i want in most places, and even the expensive supermarket cuts are a lot cheaper than at a steakhouse. i want to enjoy eating out by having dishes that are much superior than i can make myself. i do still recommend ruth's chris as a great restaurant with great service and atmosphere.
to be continued shortly.