I've just returned from a lovely ten days on Kauai, and I offer this report. Back in February, when deciding whether to go to Maui or Kauai, I posted here, and someone responded, "Don't go to Kauai for the food." I'm forced to agree.
NANIWA -- This is the Japanese restaurant at the Sheraton in Poipu. We ate there the first night, and we had several rolls. It was okay. Definitely nothing special, but great view. Exhorbitantly expensive for sushi (i.e., $9 for two pieces).
THE BEACH HOUSE -- Everyone said this was the best restaurant on Kauai, so when we ate here the second night, I was fairly down on the island. It was alright. We had the Ahi three ways and the calimari to start. Both were decent; actually the calamari was first rate for such an ordinary dish. Main courses and dessert were not memorable. For my main course, I had a "tower of risotto," which was not risotto at all but rather a duo of risotto cakes, one of which was to have morels and had one -- that's right, one -- mushroom. The view is fantastic; it's a beautiful sunset, and you can watch surfers throughout the mail. Our server belonged in a Friday's rather than here.
DUKE'S CANOE CLUB -- This is at the Marriot in Lihue. They've got a great salad bar. The prime rib, while huge, was very medicre, and the hula pie was not special. There are good views to be had here, but not everyone gets one.
CAMP HOUSE GRILL -- We had breakfast here on our way to spectacular Waimea Canyon. We ordered banana pancakes, but they were out. We got blueberry pancakes instead, and should have known better; they were frozen, and the pancakes were bad. We did get a side of biscuit with sausage gravy which was very good. The place has an authentic feel to it.
AMORE -- This is the Italian restaurant at the Sheraton. I went with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised by a perfectly cooked Opakpaka with mushroom risotto. Avoid the lasagna. The chocolate sofflet was servicable -- at least it was a soufflet, rather than a mascarading molten chololate cake -- and the view, again, was wonderful.
ROY'S POIPU GRILLE -- I went to Roy's feeling pretty down about the state of food in Kauai, and I wasn't excited to go there. Last summer, I ate at the Roy's in Kihei on Maui and was unimpressed. This restaurant was very, very good. So good, in fact, that we abandoned our search for a better restaurant and had dinner here four times. Good tropical drinks, friendly servers. The place runs like a machine. Highlights were shrimp and asparagus crepes, beef and pork pot-stickers, short ribs, ahi with pork belly fried noodles, every fish we ordered, and, among desserts, the pineapple cake, the apple volcano cake, and the macadamia nut tort. No view, but it is open air and doesn't feel like a suburban stip mall restaurant (as the Kihei one does).
GRINDS -- This is a small place on the way to Waimae. Very good breakfast skillets, filled with meats and vegatables and potato. Good carrot cake too.
EGGBERTS -- In a shopping center in Lihue. Hands down the best banana pancakes I've had (except for the Gazebo in Maui). Omlette was just okay; stick with the pancakes.
BUBBA'S BURGERS -- Tasty burgers in Hanalei. The line is long and the service slow, but the burgers (thin, fast food style) hit the spot after a morning spent with tons of turtles.
Finally, I had burgers and onion rings for lunch pool side at each of the three big Poipu resorts -- the Sheraton, the Hyatt, and the Marriot. The Hyatt's was inferior, and they have a stupid set up where you have to order inside from as astonishingly slow cashier, and then they bring you your food. It was more than $50 for two cheesburgers, an onion rings, and two pina coladas. The Sheraton's and Marriot's burgers are both equally good, but the Marriot's is half the price, and their drinks are have the price.
Have a great time in Kauai!