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Mar 23, 2007 06:22 AM

Marlin Darlin v Hapa v Black Pearl...TB thoughts?

I'm trying to pick a place for my birthday. Think I've narrowed it down to these three. Would love to hear some comparing. Also, would love to know the difference btwn Saturday and Sunday nights at these restaurants.

thank you!

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  1. First off-Happy Birthday! It depends on what kind of a mood/crowd you are going with. For a more low-key, elegant "couples" birthday, the Black Pearl with its' romantic atmosphere and great food would probably work better. If you're going out with a larger group, then Marlin Darlin is phenominal--some of the most interesting cerviches I've had in this area, great flatbread pizzas and lobster corndog appetizer--but it can be a bit loud on Saturday nights for a smaller group.
    Where is Hapa? What kind of restaurant is it? Considering the company that it is in, I'd love to go check it out.:-)

    1. Sara, all of these would make great choices. I've patronized all three, and my favorite by far is Hapa (see my 1/27 review; another poster recently seconded my emotion).

      I'm also a big fan of Marlin Darlin', which would be my second choice. The food is fab and the interior is beautiful. The service, however, seemed a little spotty on my two most recent visits. I agree that the ceviche appetizers are great, as is the calamari and the French onion soup dumplings. My favorite entree is their scallops.

      I've been to the Black Pearl just once. While the food was quite good, I didn't enjoy the experience nearly as much as the other two restaurants on your list. The black fabric-interior and stuffy service seemed mired in the 80s, in my opinion, as was the eau de cigarette smoke still emanating from the padded walls. The Black Pearl would do well to join the 21st Century with a remodel.

      So, my vote is Hapa, Hapa, Hapa. That's where we went for my DH's B-day, and where I want to go for mine. Oh yeah, we're taking a friend there for her B-day in a couple weeks, too. Can ya tell I love the place?

      4 Replies
      1. re: laurie

        thanks to both of you. I'll let you know what we decide

        1. re: sarapeater

          well, I'm sorry I did not go to Hapa b/c MD was a Major disappointment. The service was beyond bad - it was outrageous. The bar is so cool/beautiful...I don't understand how they got the main dining area so wrong in terms of placement of tables and lighting. the food was fine, not great, a little heavy, and it was so hard to enjoy it given the disaster of a waitress we had.

          the next night I went to Keegan's Seafood Grille and it was AMAZING! the food, the service, everything was fantastic. I'm sending everyone I know to this simply perfect restaurant.

          1. re: sarapeater

            all is not lost. Go to Hapa another night. Maybe on a week day. The prices are reasonable. Very intimate, personal service with wonderful food and presentation

            1. re: sarapeater

              Wow, I'm sorry to hear your experience was that bad. I must say, having been to Marlin Darlin, Island Way Grill, and Salt Rock Grill recently, I did get the impression that all three are slipping (I started a thread on this topic not too long ago). What a shame that this restaurant, named Best New Restaurant of 2006 by Chris Sherman, has fallen so far, so fast.

        2. Interesting timing no this. We are going to Marlin Darlin in about 4 hours, for the 1st time. Curious to see where our experience fits into these reviews which are absolutely all over the place. My in-laws described the place as "cafeteria-like". Will render my opinion. Gotta say, though, that the description of the poor service is kinda making me leary. Oh well, we shall see.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wishbugger

            Following Up: My wife and I and another couple wnt to Marlin Darlin last night (saturday). Now I know why the reviews are so mixed.
            First, I would say that our service was excellent. The waitress was friendly, prompt and attentive. She did not ask how everthing was before we tasted it or while our mouths were full. She refilled the bread and tea without being asked, and when my friend complained (a little) that the butter they served was unsalted, she did not throw it at him. All in all, very good service. And, before I forget, the food was actually served very promptly, and it was not cold. Another plus.

            I am not sure what the complaints are about the tables, ambience, etc. and decor. We sat directly beside the kitchen and it was busy-loud, but not irritatingly so. We could hear each other without much trouble. The wood floors were beautiful, but probably made the place louder. Again, no problem with the ambience. The lights were pretty bright when we started (6:00 p.m.), but they were dimmed before we left (@ 8:00). So far so good

            The appetizer list is pretty unusual and extensive. I tried the ceviche spoons (6 for $10), and really liked them all. Tuna, conch, shrimp, mushroom and something else I forget, all in little spoons with little sauces. Cool, trendy, tasty. However, my wife did not like them, although she generally does not like ceviche as much as I do anyways.. Not sure why

            My wife ordered the Bimini Snapper, 2 of us ordered the Scallops, and 1 ordered the chicken. My wife HATED the snapper. The serving was small, and she said the piece of fish seemed mushy and possibly FROZEN (egads!), and it did not taste good. There was a minimal amount of crab in the dish. She was not happy, and said that she much preferred BONEFISH GRILL, for the same price. I have never heard her say anything that positive about Bonefish. Plus, she is a wine lover, and was not very impressed with the wine selection at all.

            The rest of us, on the other hand, loved our meals. The scallops are really tasty, cumin-sweet chili sauce sauted, and served on a small potato/corn cake. The Lobster bisque, which came with the meal, was absolutely delish-us; there just was not enough of it.

            They need to improve their dessert menu, which is non-descript, at best. Two people complained about the quality of the water they serve, yet their iced tea is excellent.

            So there. I really liked the place and the wife won't go back, which, like everything else about MD, is pretty much in keeping with the variety of experiences that others have had.

            1. re: wishbugger

              My wife, son and I visited the other night and were really disappointed. We had been before, and enjoyed both the service and the food. This time the service was slow, and our server seemed young and inexperienced. The food (all 3 of our different fish selections bland and seeming as if the sauce had been dabbed on at the end). The ceviche spoons have been dropped from the menu. Not too many people were there (although this was a weekend night), so perhaps others also are not as pleased as in the past (when the place was packed).

          2. i have worked at two of the three restaurants as a cook. I first was a line cook at Marlin Darlin and then Sous Chef at Hapa, and I just left in June to attend the Culinary Institute of America. I can honestly tell you that I would much rather dine at Hapa rather than Marlin Darlin. The service is much more personal and the food is very delicious. You never feel like you are rushed when you are eating and if you bring a date, you can actually hear each other's conversations. Chef Brett and Nina are great people and everything is outstanding. I highly reccomend his crabcake and the Pear, Bacon and Blue salad (a special). Good luck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: deadhead5938

              Thanks for sharing a BOH opinion.

              As a customer I will agree that Chef Brett and his wife Nina are great people and their warmth and sincerity make dinning at Hapa a unique and pleasant experience.

              For those that have never been there I would highly recommend a visit.