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Kauai - Poipu Dining Help

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I am going to be staying at the Hyatt in Poipu and so far I plan on having diner at the following: Tidepools in the Hyatt, Dondero in the Hyatt, the Beach House, and Roy's. Does anyone have any comments or concerns regarding these places. Any other suggestions? We will be there for 6 nights. thanks.

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  1. I'll be watching closely, as we are doing most of the same in Sept. I finally went with the Plantation Gardens, in lieu of Roy's, partially because we have done so many of the Roy's, and my wife really wanted something new. Of all of the Roy Yamaguchi restaurants, in Hawai`i and on the mainland, the Poipu Beach location is one that we have NOT done. Maybe for lunch.

    If you have not done so, you might want to look up Gaylord's at the Kilohana Plantation, http://www.kilohanakauai.com/. We did lunch there some many years back and it was very good. I have tried contacting them about doing their brunch on the day that we fly out, but cannot seem to get through by either phone, or e-mail.

    Of course, I would have recommended Jean-Maire Josselin's A Pacific Cafe in Kapaa, but it is no more.


    1. Look a little further down for my "Kauai Report - Long" for the detailed answer to this question.

      Roy's in Poipu is better than any other Roy's I have tried, and the food and service are vastly better than the Beach House.

      I did not make it to either of the Hyatt restaurants. I had planned to do both, but after disappointments at the Beach House, Duke's, and the Sheraton restaurants (predictably), once I discovered how good this Roy's was, I kept going there instead.

      Do not miss the shrimp and asparagus crepes.

      1. Just got back from 4 nights in Maui and 3 in Kauai. We also stayed in the Hyatt....great hotel (given we stayed in a great room - another story).

        We ate at Dondero the first night (actually had it delivered to the room). food was okay but that was about it.

        Roy's was good. We had the soup with soba noodles and crab relish (my 3 year old liked it) as well as the ahi appitizer (wife like this as well). She had the rib-eye steak (just okay) and I had the scallops with butternut squash (best dish!). the kids had ribs and pasta. The ribes were great. We had the molten cake and mac tart for desert, bith were good. Kids had ice cream sandwiches. This and 3 bottles of water and 2 glasses of wine came out to about $200 including tax and tip (20%). Not bad for 2 adults and 2 kids. Would go back again.

        The Beach house is awesome (view wise especially if you can get the first dinner seating)to very good (food wise). We had the mussels, soup, ahi taster, and salad for appetizers. The mussels were a little salty, soup was good, ahi taster was okay, and the salad was just that a salad.

        Mains were scallops with edamame rissoto (good), seafood pasta (good), Opah (better), and Scallaops with saffron rissotto (Best). Kids had pasta (what can we say about pasta with butter and cheese). Desert was the molten cake (not as good as Roy's but not bad).

        Also had 4 bottles of water, sodas, 2 glasses of wine, and a bottle of Syrah. Came out to $400 for 4 adults and 2 kids with a 20% tip. Food was good but the view was worth the price of admission.

        The Plantation was bad! The appetizers were good and service was good but the mains sucked! Had the Opah (moonfish) or what I thought was opah but tasted more like shoe leather. Go somewhere else.

        some othe small places to try.....Puka dogs in the same shopping center as Roy's. Keiko's is a must. It is also in the same shopping center as Roy's. The pizza joint in town is okay. But the best locals place is the Fish house in town. It is a plate lunch place with no seats but the fish is really good and it is cheap.

        Some advise for the Hyatt: The food sucks at the pool. Get a cabana so you can beat the heat. Check out the Koi feedings as well as the birds. The concierges are great especially Jennifer. If you want to get to the pool stay in the non-Poipu wing of the hotel (what a walk to the pools). Rent a kayak if you have kids and cruise around the lagoon. Be prepared to walk...this place is huge!

        Also make sure you see Waimea Canyon and the water Falls. If you have the time do a helicopter tour. They have these adventure places in town that are much cheaper than in the hotels.

        Have fun....hope this helps.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jkao1817

          What a great post. Thanks for the helpful info. I'm on the fence about Dondero's. Italian food and Hawaii may not be a good match. Thanks again.

          1. re: jkao1817

            Thanks for the input. We're at the Sheraton, but will be doing the two upper-end restaurants at the Hyatt, Donderos and Tidepools. Now, I'm worried about the Plantation House. I might substitute Gaylord's (since they have never gotten back regarding the start of their Sunday Brunch), for that evening. Either that, or try the last US Roy's, that we have not dined at. I've seen some good recs. regarding this one, and have enjoyed most of the rest - Hawai`i Kai & the two in West Maui were all dissappointments. I'll walk over to the Plantation House and see what's going on. Maybe I'll "take one for the team," and just do it - or maybe not.

            I'll do a piece on the restaurants at the Hyatt, but it will probably be too late for some.

            Anyway, thank you,

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I'm not going until October, so a report would be great. Thanks.

          2. As a side note the dinner at the Plantation was a second person account (my in-laws were the ones who went)

            1. For a more informal meal or even to take out and enjoy oevr at the picnic tables by the Spouting Horn try the excellent pizza at Brick House Pizza (2-2555 Kaumualii Hwy. [Hwy. 50], Kalaheo, inland from Poipu; tel. 808/332-8561).

              I'm in NYC and even I miss their pizza.

              1. I'll fill in the blanks, when I return, but the evening dining is set up:
                Shells (Sheraton) - on the night that we arrive. Not holding out a lot of hope here, but who knows? And, it's convenient.

                The Beach House - mixed reviews, though more good, than bad. An open mind will be best.

                Donderos (Hyatt) - N Italian on Kaua`i? Again, I've read some good reviews, so will give it a go.

                Plantation Gardens - again, mixed reviews, but Gaylord's has not answered their phone, or any of the e-mails, and PG did. Let's see what's cookin'.

                Tidepools (Hyatt) - only good reviews found, so we'll see.

                I used to shy completely away from "resort food," but living in Phoenix, has changed my mind to some extent. We'll do Roy's for lunch, as I have not dined at the Poipu restaurant before, and know that the exec. chef within the Roy's chain can make/break the meal.

                I grade very hard and try to take every aspect of the meal into account - service, food, presentation, setting, wine (both list and service), and weigh my satisfaction heavily on the food and wine. I've looked at all of the wine lists, that are on-line, and am a bit amazed at the markups. Yes, I know that we're talking Hawai`i, and resort pricing here, but come on guys, 400-500% markup is a bit steep, don't you think? One restaurant offers a glass of a nice CA Central Coast Chard at $12.00. I buy this one by the bottle at $9.00 and get a 10% discount on a case. Wholesale has got to be in the $5.00+ range. They'd better serve this one in Riedel Sommelier stems! <G>

                We'll be back at the end of Sept. and I'll be a quick as I can with the report.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  I look forward to it. I'm not going until late October, so no need to rush the reply. I agree with you on the wine lists. I was shocked at what I saw. I did read somewhere that the Beach House allows you to bring wine for a $15 corkage fee. You may want to ask them before you go. Either way, I think wine is a necessity for a good meal, especially one in such a beautiful place!

                  1. re: nd33x

                    I usually only bring "special" bottles to a restaurant, a '48 Taylor Port for wife's b'day, a '65 Latour to celebrate graduation - 40 years since... I'll usually just pay the price and go with what is offered. I have made a few exceptions, when in the Deep South, and finding nothing drinkable on the list. I had one restaurant refuse to allow me to do this, and the other had no problem, and would charge me no corkage. Local laws/customs I guess. I always offer the server (or sometimes the chef, or the sommelier) a glass. With the Taylor, we were able to get enough pours for our guest, plus the sommelier, the owner AND the chef.

                    While on the question of wine - any recs. for a good wine shop on the south/eastern side of Kaua`i?


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      The best place to buy wine on the east side (Kapa'a) is either Safeway or Long's Drugs. The latter has the best selection, but the higher prices. No liquor store here specializes in wine and none have a good selection.

                      1. re: ponocat

                        Thanks for the recs. It's been since Inkik, that we were on Kaua`i, so I'm sure that much has changed. I did not recall a "wine shop" from Kapaa down to Poipu, but maybe I missed one. We'll stop by Long's and see what's shaking.

                        At least on Oahu, there are a few Costco stores, and one is on the way to the North Shore. I have a few wine shops in Honolulu (in, or near Waikiki), so we should be set there. These, of course, are just for the room, and sitting on the lanai in the afternoon. Most of the "serious" wine will just be at, and from, the restaurants.

                        Thanks for the info.

                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        The best place to buy wine on the island is at the Wine Garden - it's the only fine wine store on the island. They have a fabulous selection for a small store. It's located right across from the community college in Puhi - just outside of Lihue.

                  2. I was going to wait a bit and collect my thoughts but given this thread could not resist giving my input.

                    Just returned from five nights on Oahu and Four nights on Kauai.

                    LOVED Plantation Gardens. My husband had the Ono special and I had the honey glazed pork. We shared the chicken satay appetizer and a great salad(not recalling ingredients at the moment.) The view of the gardens was beautiful and the services was great. We were there for sunset and although not a water view was still special. Mu husband even tried the lichee martini. I loved it but he was not a fan.

                    Local recommendations from a few people said to stay away from the Beach House as the service was often terrible.

                    Also enjoyed Tropical Burgers at Poipu Shopping Center. Some very interesting conconctions incuding a delicious pineapple chili burger.

                    Gaylords for Brunch was great. Loved the Portugeuse french toast.

                    Inexpensive breakfast in Lihue just past the blue and grey shopping center with the Anchor just before the entrance to the Marriott Beach Club. A good alternative to the expensive buffet at the Marriott.

                    Loved the healthy options at the Kalapaki Beach Bar at the Marriott Beach Club and the bar tenders.

                    Great wine selection at the italian restaurant on site at the Marriott Beach Club(can't recall the name at the moment.) The food was satisfactory but underwhelming.

                    That's it for now. More when I can review out itinerary.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: unicorn633

                      Really holding my breath on both the Plantation Garden (thanks for the positive input), and the Beach House. Both will be new to me, and the reviews have been mixed. The rest are either restaurants that I knew sometime back, or are at the various resorts, and I'm not expecting too very much - maybe I'll be surprised.

                      I still cannot get a connection (telephone, or electronic) to Gaylord's! Dang, I guess that they do not want us to dine with them.


                    2. I have lived here on Kaua'i for 7 years and the only "bad" thing about it is the lack of truly good restaurants. IMO, the best ones are at the Hyatt. Dondero's is nothing but pedestrian, with too many items tasting like they are fresh out of a can or freezer bag. My favorite place for lunch in Poipu is Brenneke's. It has great views of the ocean, is inexpensive relative to competitors, and has sometimes has truly extraordinary fish dishes.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ponocat

                        Did Brenneke's right after Iniki and it was very nice. Had it not been for A Pacific Cafe, it might have rated closer to the top. However, there was almost nothing else open in the Poipu area then. Roy's reopened the day that we left. I'll post my thoughts on Dondero's, as well as Tidepools.

                        Thanks for the info,

                      2. We just came back on August 13. Never ventured to eat in Poipu, but stayed mostly near Kapaa. Instead of Safeway, shop at Foodland, less crowded, generally cheaper, more locals. Best dinner was Coconuts right on the main drag in Kapaa. We ate at Gaylords last time, 2 years ago, and it did not make a lasting impression. Beach House 4 years ago was a waste of money.

                        1. We have a Costco being built that should be finished by late October.

                          Foodland is less crowded. But it is only really good for fish and fresh (local) pork and chicken. I have done comparisons of pricing on wines every three months for the past two years. On brands of the types of wines I buy (pinot noirs, merlots, chardonnay, and s. blanc), Safeway is less expensive 9 times out of 10.

                          Coconuts is indeed the best restaurant in Kapa'a now, but that is not saying much, unfortunately.