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Big Island chow

My husband and I are heading to the Big Island next week for our first-ever Hawaiian vacation. The main premise of the trip is to see the volcano, but we'll also be spending some time near Kailua Kona. I've printed out all the old trip reports and threads I could find, but most of them are pretty darn old. Does anyone have any good current info on the chow scene? I'm not too interested in fancy food on this trip, although I'm happy to drive up to Merriman's if everybody tells me it's totally worth it, but we're not into the resort places. What I'm mainly interested in are recommendations for plate lunch, pizza, burgers, ice cream and fish tacos, in either Kona or Hilo regions; also great places in the Kona area to sit outside and drink booze. I figure in Volcano (assuming it's not evacuated) we'll probably go to Thai Thai and Kilauea House while we're there, but I'm pretty easy. I want a low-stress vacation, but I want my food to taste good, too.

Places on my short list so far:

Kona Brewing Company
Jake's BBQ
Coffee Shack
Cafe Pesto in Hilo
O's Bistro

Any thoughts? I appreciate any insights!

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  1. In Volcano I think you mean Kilauea Lodge, Volcano House is in the Park and not so great.

    In the Kona area the plate lunch at KTA market is oft recommended. Most of the recs you read would probably still be pretty up to date... things don't change very fast on the big island (but then I live on Oahu).

    2 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      You're quite right, I was thinking Kilauea Lodge but got sidetracked thinking about Volcano House. Is it at least worth going to V.H. for the view?

      1. re: Freida

        absolutely, but you don't have to eat there. there is also a series of pictures on the wall of the various buildings over the years. you might also consider keawe kitchen in volcano village, very fresh, make their own breads, pizza crust, etc. Kilauea Lodge remains my favorite - but only open for dinner. Lava Rock Cafe is so so, sometimes good, sometimes ok. In any event, enjoy! Aloha

    2. Kona Brewing: go for the beer. The food's edible, but keep your expectations in check.
      Big Jake's is okay, but nothing to write home about.
      Cafe Pesto is pretty good.
      O's Bistro has mediocre food at confiscatory prices.
      Avoid Volcano House.

      Other places to consider if you're in the area:
      Island Style Cafe in Waimea (Kamuela) for plate lunch.
      Ceviche Dave's in Kona for (you guessed it) ceviche.
      Manago Hotel in Captain Cook for pork chops.
      Teshima's in Kealekekua for Japanese.
      Ning's in Pahoa for Thai.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Correction: it's the Hawai'ian Style Cafe in Waimea. The Korean-influenced dishes (kalbi ribs, Korean fried chicken) are especially good. I own the "Fat Boys Club" t-shirt. 'Nuff said.

      2. Sounds like you want good food at good value.
        Try Manago hotel for sure! The pork chops are amazing. I ordered the shrimp (Mistake) and kept sampling my spouse's pork chops. Really basic place but service is friendly and efficient. Served family style ( Captain Cook)
        Kona brewing company is a place to check out. Tried the beer sampler ( 4 - 6 oz beers .... your choice for $8) Good deal We really liked the Wailua Wheat, a Lilikoi flavored lager I believe. Could not find it in the retail market. Quite a nice and unique taste. Smooth. Pizza ..pricey.. so so taste. Go for Lunch.
        Enjoy the Big Island !

        1 Reply
        1. re: easily amused

          Thanks, I appreciate the input. We live halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., so we have tons of great restaurants to choose from when we really want to splurge. On Hawaii I really just want to have a fun but casual experience.

          We've been able to buy several Kona beers at our local supermarket, but I'm looking forward to trying their others. Too bad it sounds like the pizza's not great, but I still want to go.

          Looking forward to it!

        2. This is just the post I was looking for. I'm heading to the big island at the end of May for a conference in Kona. Thanks for the recs!

          11 Replies
          1. re: pollymerase

            Do not forget to do a "search this board," as I have done several reviews (mostly higher-end spots), and many others have filled in the blanks. Do not be put off if the reports go back a bit, as most of the chefs, who I met on my first trip to the Big Island, are still cooking and cooking well, on the last trip. Do not be hesitatnt to go back a few years. "Island time" runs a bit more slowly, than on the Mainland.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Thanks, Hunt. I have a huge printout of old threads, so if we find ourselves wandering around somewhere hungry I can pull out a few ideas of places to look for. Nice to know things haven't changed too much!

              Do you think Merriman's or Daniel's are worth the splurge? They both look awfully expensive compared to similar places on the mainland, but if they offer something really unique I'm willing to go for it. I love restaurants with seasonal menus featuring locally produced food.

              1. re: Freida


                I have yet to get to Merriman's, but will next trip. Back in Dec. Alan Wong asked again, if I had gotten there, and I was embarassed that I had not. However, I had not been to the Big Island since he last pressured me to dine there. I feel that if he's that big a fan, I have missed something special.

                If "Daniel's" is Daniel Thiebaut's, then it is worth the drive. Only concern that I have is that his Web site has been down for some time. Last time I recommended it, I did a Google and it seems that it was still open at that time - about five mos. back. You might want to call, just to be sure. Going back about 2 years, I did a review of the Big Island higher-end eateries and his was featured for a lunch and then a dinner, later that evening. It was a lot of driving from Waikolo, but worth every mile. It was probably #3 on that trip, which is very good. Being just behind an AW restaurant, Hualalai Grille and another at the Four Seasons, Pahu i`a should tell you how highly I thought of it.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  I love Merriman's. As one of the founding HRC members Peter Merriman has consistently sourced the best ingredients and lets them speak for themselves. I like the lamb chops (often you have to order them right away or they run out) before other items to get your order.
                  They have roasted corn that is worthy of dessert quality. It is far but if you go early then you don't have to drive back so late at night.

                  I was just at Mauna Lani and very much enjoyed my meal at Canoe House, directly behind the restaurant now is the most amazing herb garden full of huge plants that contribute to the varied flavors. I know there are many who don't like CH but it was really a fabulous meal and beautiful evening/sunset.

                  1. re: manomin

                    I am certain that his founding status is the reason that AW instists that we go. I do not want to dissapoint him, since he never dissapoints me.

                    Glad that you had a good experience at Canoe House. Going back three trips to the Big Island, we did it on some heavy recs. It was a lovely venue, but that was where it ended. The service was very poor and the wine service even worse. The food fell to lower 20% of that trip, but the tab was in the upper 5%. Now, this was when the islands were overrun by Oriental tourists with very, very deep pockets. If you look at my profile, you'll see that I am accustomed to high-priced restaurants, but that is no excuse for on offering dessert wines by the .375, starting at US$395 and going up to US$2900. Nothing by the glass. Just doing a quick calculation, based on my cellar, they were asking 600% markup OVER retail. We took them off the list, and have not returned. Now, the economy has changed, and they have had at least 2 management changes, plus at least as many chef changes. Maybe it's time to give them another go, because, as I said, the venue was great - just everything else was very poor.

                    I greatly appreciate hearing what I would consider a major turn-around. Thanks for the update. I've had "faves," that failed, and some "passes," that re-did their entire program.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      The executive chef is a Roy's alum from the original Hawaii Kai
                      she was there in the very beginning and has worked her way
                      around the world recently in Hong Kong. It was really a great meal
                      and they did have dessert wines by the glass. Our server(s) were
                      really good and took good care of us and all their tables. I met people in the pool who liked so well they went back more than once. You should try it again sometime!

                      1. re: manomin

                        Next trip to the Big Island, I shall. Thanks for the info and the recs.


                        1. re: manomin

                          Question: did she ever do a stint at the Wiakoloa Roy's in the early days. Her resume sounds familiar. If so, she's wonderful. Wish I could recall the name of the exec. chef, that I am thinking of, and the servers at Waikoloa, when I last visited, were but infants, when she was there, so they could not help.

                          Someone in the Roy's group indicated that this lady had moved up to corporate, but others mentioned Hong Kong.

                          Do you happen to have a name? The chef, about whom I am thinking, had a Southwest (US Mainland) heritage, and brought that take to Roy's foods.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            From another perspective--we dined at Canoe House in January. Indeed a pretty spot, though I still prefer the view from Pavillion (how I hope that re-opens in it's original form). The service at CH was fine, the food was. . .eh. Pretty presentation and the quality was fine, it just wasn't terribly inspired. Nothing on the menu jumped at me as something that I couldn't do at home or that I hadn't thought of before.

                            Anyway, just another thought when you look to spend your dining dollars.

                            1. re: gourmanda

                              Our biggest problem was the service and the fact that all was dedicated to the Japanese businessman on an expense account. The wine service and offerings were embarassing. I do not mind spending tons of $, but I want to feel wanted and also want to have offerings that do not reflect a +600% markup and an attitude.

                              As I said, our last visit was many chefs ago, plus many economic changes ago. Things have likely morphed to reflect the general economy now. Maybe Mainlanders are not looked down upon and the wine list is not dedicated, 100%, for those with millions of ¥ to spend on one meal.

                              Maybe next trip, we'll give it another try.

                              Please give a report,

            2. You mentioned a coffee shop. In kona, Kona Joes has to be the most scenic coffee bar we have ever been to. We were lucky enough to have the entire place all to ourselves in early December. O fond memoies. A pot of french press peaberry and that incredible view.
              There are some great coffee shops in Hawi as well.
              Enjoy, the Big Island is incredible. ;)

              1. I second the rec's for Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea. Great, big, cheap breakfasts and yummy plate lunches. There is also a Korean place in Waimea called Yong's in the shopping center that has a McDonalds. Again, great place for plate lunches. It's more Asian than Hawaiian Style. I would also make the drive for Merriman's. We were just there in January and it was even better than the last time, 2 years ago. Make sure to eat some of the local beef while you are on the island. They usually have it on the menu at Merriman's.

                1. Merriman's is now on our "must go" list. We have had several very good meals there and the wine is more than acceptable.

                  1. The Big Island is not so big, and you'll likely have a car. If you have a chance, go to the Hilo Farmers' Market in Hilo on Wed. and Sat. mornings. It is at the corner of Kamehameha Avenue and Mamo Avenue. This is a lovely market to snack through and to pick up picnic items and wonderful fruit. We found fresh durian, and I purchased a huge bag of fresh mangosteen for about $5 ( I usually pay $5 for one small mangosteen). I also found a chocolate persimmon here. They also have baked goods, and Spam sushi, and many other items. It is a unique and wonderful market, and was one of the Chow highlights of my trip. We ate some of our market treats while watching lava slowly ooze out of the ground. Wow.

                    Also in Hilo is Big Island Candy (585 Hinano Street), lots of lovely candy and chocolate, including chocolate covered cuttle fish. But no fears, there are a lot of other more conventional treats.

                    Also in Hilo: Naung Mai Thai Kitchen (86 Kilauea Ave.) Very reasonably priced and delicious Thai. Their green curry dishes were phenomenal, and the chicken with peanut sauce and crispy spinach was also outstanding. We ate there 2 nights in a row it was so good.

                    Have a wonderful trip! I never thought I would love Hawaii as much as I did! I'm sure you will love it too.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: moh

                      "We ate some of our market treats while watching lava slowly ooze out of the ground. "

                      I don't believe there has been an accessible lava flow in some time. I suppose it's subjective but we found the Big Island to be absolutly massive compared to other islands, especially in terms of variety. Loved Waimea.

                      1. re: Docsknotinn

                        There is accessible lava flowing, check out the news! We're actually really excited to be heading to the Big Island right now, there's been so much new volcanic activity. Sadly, we won't be there on the right day to stop by the Hilo Farmer's Market, but I'm sure we'll find something. :)

                        I may have been talked into trying Merriman's. Our B&B is actually only 30 miles from Waimea, so it seems a shame not to try it. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!

                        1. re: Freida

                          The current lava flows that are accessable are the first since last June. Some of the recent activity has been a different type of flow that occurs under ground. The current flows are constantly changing and may be closed at any time. I've attached a link to VNP so you can see their updates. In either event if this is what you hope to see I wish you all the best!


                        2. re: Docsknotinn

                          it's not subjective... the big island is more than twice the land area of all the other islands combined and has 7 of the 9 climates found on earth - no true tundra or arctic regions. That also contributes to the variety of foodstuffs found there (although I can't say I recommend any of the big island wines).

                          1. re: Docsknotinn

                            My comment about the Big Island being not so big was merely to indicate that driving around the island would not take that long. One can get from Hilo to Kona in less than half a day (i recall about 4 hours), and the drive is much more pleasant than say the I-95 between Washington DC and Baltimore (which is supposed to take 45 minutes, and has never taken me less than 2 hours). So it is relatively easy to get to Hilo. I find that Hilo is a bit ignored by tourists because of the threat of bad weather and a perception that there are better things to see. That's too bad, I loved Hilo when we were there. And that market is so fun! I guess it depends on how much time you have to explore, there are so many gems on the Big Island.

                            1. re: moh

                              It pretty much takes a full day to drive around the Island. We left Kahala in the am, Spent about two hours in VNP, a brief time in Hilo and just made it back at dark. We did stop briefly at the Mauna Loa factory and took a slight delay there. It was storming and a mac nut tree managed to smack a van head on. I can't say I had the same fondness for Hilo that others seem to have. It was my least favorite part of the island. I suspect driving times vary by a huge margin depending on the season. It was very slow when we arrived but by the time we left there was construction in Kona and traffic was remiscent of being on the beltway in DC. Kona Joes was deserted when we were there but based on the multiple parking places for tour buses and all the no parking signs on the street I think we were rather lucky in that regard.

                              1. re: moh

                                I do agree about Hilo being considered as a "backwater." It is a wonderfully charming area, and on our last trip, the food was good. We also did the "saddle road" back to Hilo in about 2.5 - 3 hours, and that was without breaking any speed limits - OK, maybe the rental care agreements, but no speed limits.

                                Last two trips to the Big Island have been to Kona only. Next time, we're going to include Hilo again.


                            2. re: moh

                              Glad that you bring up the Hilo-side. There is plenty of good food and a cute town over there. Too many folk only see the Kona-side, and maybe venture up to the volcanoes. Loved every second we last spent in Hilo. Wouldn't you know it - it rained on us in Kona, on that trip.


                            3. Teshima -- exception tempura, everything is very good. On the Hilo side - Cafe 100, the food doesn't look so good but it's great down home local food. The farmer's market is a great tip...is probably the only place in the U.S. you'll get fresh lychee for .50 cents a pound.

                              1. So good to see that most of the posters are responding to the theme of the OP.
                                Big island is the place to explore the local foods of the island. A trip to the Hilo market could not be more highly recommended! Big island candies in Hilo is also a great find for gifts to bring home.
                                Fish and chips at King's shops is another great casual stop . Tasty!
                                So, once in paradise, slip on your slippahs and enjoy the local flavor.
                                No need to pay "High end" prices to enjoy the cuisine of the Big Island.

                                1. ya gotta try some of the local Portugese influenced donuts as well. the name escapes me at the moment. There is a place between Waimea and Hilo that makes some that we thought were pretty darned good.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. Original Thai has the best Thai food...Big Island Grill has the best "local" food...the best new restaurant is the Holuakoa Cafe in Holualoa...the Cafe Pesto in Kawaihai is better than the one in Hilo...we had a fine dinner the other night at Quinn's in Kailua town...the last time we were at Merriman's it wasn't that good...the quality has slipped...Theibault's might be a better choice...the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea has excellent "local" food...good luck and malama pono

                                    1. We're back! I thought I'd do a brief trip report, since everyone here was so helpful. I clung to my Chowhound notes throughout the trip :)

                                      In Volcano Village:
                                      we went to Kiawe Kitchen twice, once for dinner and once for lunch. Good salads, good pizza, OK pasta, excellent sandwiches. Better wine list than some, plus Mehana beer. Very comfortable place.

                                      Thai Thai was OK, not really as good as I expected. No fish sauce? In anything? Weird. We ordered eggplant with beef and asked for it spicy, and they forgot to add any spice at all - we had to get hot sauce on the side (which I admit, was VERY hot!). The chicken satay was tasty, but not really what I would call satay - it was more like stir-fried chicken with peanut sauce all over it.

                                      In Hilo:
                                      Mehana Brewery - not a restaurant, but a fun place to stop, try beers and buy kitschy stuff.
                                      Tropical Dreams ice cream - really unlikely looking counter inside an echoingly empty building. White chocolate ginger ice cream, really good.
                                      What's Shakin' - definitely a tourist stop, but great location, great smoothies and a really astonishingly good ono and avocado wrap.

                                      Tex Drive In in Honoka'a - OK, I get the malasada thing now. Unfortunately they didn't have many flavors that day, so we got plain and vanilla. Good stuff. Astoundingly slow service, but we were in no kind of hurry.

                                      In Waimea, the Hawaiian Style Cafe. Got a plate lunch substantially bigger than my head, with Korean pork and the nastiest macaroni salad I've ever eaten. Definitely a cultural experience, especially watching the tourists next to me at the bar put away omelets with gravy and those enormous pancakes. Glad I went, probably wouldn't go back. Well, yes I would - but I'd order the pork watercress soup instead.

                                      In Kailua-Kona:
                                      Kona Brewing Company - We sat inside, which was hot and full of drunken locals (mostly the waitstaff and their friends, I think). We got a "Pepperoni Ali'i" pizza, which was awesome, along with the Castaway IPA and the Lavaman Red. Fun, but loud.

                                      Canoe Club - good place for a drink by the ocean, although the happy hour margaritas were barely alcoholic. Cheap and fun, but I wouldn't order food there.

                                      Scandinavian Shave Ice - probably a mistake, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about shave ice. Ugh - would rather have had ice cream.

                                      Teshima's (in Kealakekua) - fantastic homestyle Japanese. We loved it here. The deep fried ahi was a little unnecessary, but we loved the tea, miso, teriyaki, tempura and sashimi, and the waitstaff were awesome. This place has been around forever, and it feels like it - in a good way!

                                      Mixx Wine Bar, in the King Kamehameha Mall - it looked fun, so we tried it. Mostly so-so California wines, with a mostly Asian small plates menu that doesn't really go with wine at all. We had fried tofu with garlic and chiles and a plate of steak frites and had a fine time - although the fries are billed as "the best fries in Kona" and they tasted exactly like McDonalds. Well, maybe they are the best. The bartender was extremely friendly and helpful, and they had a great selection of booze.

                                      And south of Kealakekua, the Coffee Shack: awesome place. The view was amazing, even with the nasty volcanic haze hanging over everything, and both the Reuben and the hot pastrami sandwich were fantastic. Loved it. Wished we had room for their desserts.

                                      We can also recommend the breakfasts cooked by Lonn of the Hale Hualalai B&B - every one of them was fantastic. Macadamia nut pancakes, Italian sausage omelet, French toast, homegrown fruit, yum.

                                      We had a great trip, thanks for all your advice!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Freida

                                        I am glad you discovered Tropical Dreams Ice Cream. Lots of high end restaurants and hotels serve it, but not readily available otherwise. You can purchase it by scoop at their factory in Kamuela, but here's the place I love to get it: the Kona airport, because then you can do something fun while waiting to depart. The small concession near the departure gates carries hand packed single servings in plain white cartons with the flavor handwritten on the cap. The Tahitian Vanilla has won awards.

                                        1. re: honu2

                                          That Tahitian Vanilla deserves accolades! And having it at the airport--with those little wooden "spoons", oh yum! Though eating it while window shopping in Hawi is hard to beat! The Hawi ice cream is actually different than the Hilo blend--even MORE butterfat! ;)

                                          1. re: gourmanda

                                            Dang, I wish I'd seen the ice cream option at the airport. I really intended to eat a lot more ice cream this trip, but it just wasn't happening for some reason. Ah well, the white chocolate-ginger was amazing.

                                      2. Bump. Anything new to report?

                                        We are heading over in a couple of weeks and will be at Mauna Lani. Yes Bill, that does mean we will be eating at CH. We've never had anything like your unfortuante experience there though. Will be going to Merriman's for a dinner but keep wondering if we should try to Thiebault's and would appreciate comments. Will probably also go up to the 4 Seasons for a dinner but have seen some negative remarks since our last visit a year ago.


                                        22 Replies
                                        1. re: ibstatguy

                                          Too funny..
                                          I am supposed to be at the FS in Kona for a wedding in 3 weeks..

                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                            if you haven't been there before its a beautiful place. have eaten multiple times at their two restaurants: Pahui'a (I think that's how you spell it) and Alan Wong's. If you haven't been to Merriman's in Waimea, I recommend it.

                                            1. re: ibstatguy

                                              Never been to the big island..black sand when snorkeling kind of freaks me out..but am really looking forward to it..golf, snorkeling and eating and drinking is on my list and I am not straying from it!
                                              Thanks for the restaurant tips and maybe there is a 'Longhorn' on the island that can do Longhorn's proud...we really need to try that again here in SD..
                                              Have a great trip!

                                          2. re: ibstatguy

                                            I was there in March at ML and had a terrific meal at Canoe House. We went early and had a great sunset. Everything was fresh and flavorful. The new (1 year) chef has made an incredible herb garden there that she gets all the flavors for her foods from. It's quite lovely and large.

                                            We ate at Brown's one night and found their prices higher than CH with food fine but nothing to rave about. The setting was very nice but there was a wedding reception going on in the nearby grove playing rally loud Guns & Roses music amongst other groups of that type and it was really annoying and did not add to the meal at all.

                                            I really like the beachside grill at ML never had a bad meal there. Do check out the spa a fabulous facility and not to be missed. I always do a scrub and massage it's miraculous, they've a nice gift shop too.

                                            Second or third the rec. for Merriman's. I just saw Peter on Maui at his newest restaurant which was delightful as well. They were to start serving lunch there this month and the oceanfront setting was killer.

                                            1. re: manomin

                                              we enjoy the setting at CH and have had some very nice meals although a time or two the service was a bit spotty but nothing like Bill's experience. Merriman's has become a "must" visit for us. We like the beachside grill at ML as well but have so say it does not hold a candle to the same facility at 4 Seasons.


                                              1. re: ibstatguy

                                                I've stayed at the FS before and odd II don't remember a thing at all about their beach side grill. I do remember the otter pops at noon offered around the pool. I also will never forget when chef Ryan Vargas was there him making me a special meal of boursin mac & cheese with a whole lobster on top - the rest of the patrons were drooling and spitting nails with jealousy as I was the only one being served this.
                                                What a memorable lovely meal it was. I like their bathtubs too.

                                              2. re: manomin


                                                Do I read this correctly, Peter Merriman has a restaurant on Maui? If that is correct, then I'll head to Google to get a fix on the location, as we're there in Dec.

                                                Mahalo for the H/U,


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  I have mentioned this in numerous posts. It is in the old Kapalua Bay
                                                  hotel area on the point. It opened 6/12. The opening night reception was held there and afterward he was serving a dinner crowd of mostly Kapalua Ritz and Villa guests. We stayed on for dinner with Jim Clendenen and Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post it was a wonderful evening. Peter was
                                                  there of course and his executive chef is George Gomes Jr. who was the corporate chef for Jean Marie and also of Tri-Star most recently
                                                  (Aaron's, Sarento's, Son'Z, Nick's etc. etc.) He came to Peter from Tri-Star he's brilliant. You must try it when you are on Maui.

                                                  1. re: manomin

                                                    Will definitely make arrangements. Anybody who cooks with Chef Jean Marie, is in good with me!



                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt


                                                    Thought you might like to read about Alan and his special dinner this week.
                                                    I had lunch with him in May at Town in Kaimuki) and the entire time we all chatted about the history of HRC and the direction it is taking now this article brings that into light with the new farms and developments.

                                                      1. re: manomin

                                                        Mahalo for that link and the story. Sorry that we were Mainland-bound and missed it. Still ate well, but not THAT well.


                                                  3. re: ibstatguy

                                                    AND, I hope that you never do. Matter of fact, I'd love to read a glowing report, that things are great on the food, wine and service front.

                                                    The venue is excellent. The recs., that I had received were over the top. We were just horribly disappointed, but I'd return, if you painted a new picture.

                                                    On the SW board, a very well-respected CH had a terrible experience at one of our fav. local restaurants. It was unlike anything that we'd ever had, whether for a function, or private dining. I felt very bad for this reviewer, and only wished that they had received 10% of the excellent service, that we always get. I do not doubt the review, but did feel the pain. With restaurants, it can happen - from the front of the house to the back. Our experience was so overwhelmingly bad, that we would only consider going back many years, and good reviews, later.

                                                    Please take the time to do a full review, as we will be looking for a reason to return. May your experience be the complete opposite of our, those years ago.

                                                    I'd also love to hear of Merriman's, since Alan Wong has been on my case to try it, but we've not. Also, in light of some recent reviews, I'm left wondering. I value your reports so much, that you could well impact our next trip to the Big Island.



                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Bill - I will try to remember to make notes of our various meals and post same. With regard to Merriman's, this will be maybe our 4th or 5th time there; all prior dinners have been terrific with daily fresh produce, etc. Nice wine list as well (if memory serves correct).

                                                      1. re: ibstatguy

                                                        Please do. I have been horribly remiss, at not dining there, but we are on the Big Island about 1, out of 5 trips.

                                                        I have bookmarked his restaurant on Maui, and WILL dine there in Dec.


                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                          Canoe House update: we had a very nice dinner last night and were not rushed in the least. we were seated at a very nice table and watched a spectacular sunset; I think I saw the green flash although my wife and daughter contest it. our waitress, holly, was informed and helpful about the menu. for starters, we had the lobster and scallop "jaozi" with chinese sausage and Ahi "poke-tini"; I had the jaozi and my wife had the poke-tini. the jaozi was something like gyoza only way, way better; had a glass of Lanson with it. my wife was quite pleased with her poke-tini. I then, pig that I am, had an heirloom tomoato, basil sprouts and cambozola salad. excellent. the tomatos, fresh from Waimea, were outstanding; had a glass of Babcock chard with the salad. my wife had the blackened ahi and scallops with a glass of pinot grigio and I had a lobster and scallop linguini; again, both were excellent. Had a Babich sauvignon blanc with the linguini.

                                                          Merrimans coming up on Thursday night...

                                                          1. re: ibstatguy

                                                            Glad that I kept going back in time on my posts. Had seen the the "no jacket required" post earlier on, and begged for this one - lo, here it is.

                                                            Thanks for the update. It took me years, before I'd go back to Bali by the Sea at HHV, for similar reasons as my ban on Canoe House. Sounds like it's time to forget the past, and head over on the next trip.

                                                            Will they still seat me in my blazer? [Grin]

                                                            Mahalo - safe trip and safe return,


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              Bill - I thought of you this afternoon when I saw a bearded gentleman in the Mauna Lani lobby wearing a....jacket!

                                                              Aloha, Tony

                                                              1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                I guess that the jacket and the beard just go together.

                                                                Glad you guys had a very good meal. Maybe I hit them on a bad day, or at a bad time.

                                                                Safe trip and fine dining,


                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                  Aloha from the Kohala Coast, reporting on dinner Thursday in Waimea at Merrimans and going to Daniel Thiebaut's tonight.

                                                                  Have to put this first and get it out of the way, service was subpar and given past very good experiences, made for a great disappointment for me. To be fair, I should note that by the time of our reservation at 6:45 (early to my way of thinking) the restaurant was already full so I am guessing that there were some unexpected walk ins. After being seeated, it took a while to get water, then a bit longer to get some bread. The waitress was clearly overworked and it appeared that there was an insufficient number of bus staff working. She offered a child's menu for our youngest and then forgot to bring it. Initailly brought me the wrong dessert (I had the one she recommended and it was great, see below'). Etc., etc. That aside, we once again enjoyed the food itself.

                                                                  we started with the appetizer platter as we were having difficulty narrowing the choices. it included kalua pig and onion quesadilla, crispy lamb spring roll, ahi guacomole, tempura shrimp and steamed clams with portugese sausage. our favoite was probably the lamb spring roll although we liked them all with the quesadilla probably being the least favorite. enjoyed the foregoing with a glass of bailly lapierre cremant brut rose and an argiolas costamolino (vermentino). my daughter simply had a plate of fresh tomatoes which were excellent (for those in San Diego, perhaps on a par with Chinos).

                                                                  I then had the leg of lamb entree which was also very good (with a Susana Bilbao Crios blend of syrah and bonarda, very interesting glass of wine.) My wife had the seared ahi entree which, I'm told, was exellent. She stayed with the Argiolas.

                                                                  I should also mention (given another thread) that we were not the least bit rushed.

                                                                  For dessert we ordered crepes with local strawberries, very good and the chocolate "purse" with vanilla ice cream, wonderful with a glass of Broadbent port.

                                                                  BTW - my wife and daughter's entree came with fresh yellow corn that they both said was very good but not quite up to par with the white corn we get at Chinos.

                                                                  Bill - I hope this of help to you.


                                                                  1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                    Mahalo for the details. Your experience just sounds like you called it - the staff was overwhelmed. That stuff happens, though it's tough, when it hits any of us. That was unlike our experience, though the end result might have been the same.

                                                                    Your food sounds better, regardless of serving problems. Ours was just so-so, and coupled with the "attitude," was horribly out of line. Let's give 'em a "slammed night," and assume that they really have gotten better.

                                                                    The wines sound interesting too. We found nothing like that. It was 1er Cru Bdx, or DRC Burgs, or nothing! If one was not ordering US$4000 in wine, they did not care to hear from you. Times have changed, and apparently for the better.

                                                                    I appreciate your taking the time to respond. I do wish that you'd have told me to "stuff it," as they were perfect, but they do appear to be trying to improve. Amazing what a turn in an economy can do for one's perspective.

                                                                    Hope all else was perfect and that it was a wonderful and safe trip.


                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      it was a wonderful trip and I hope your next one is equally safe and enjoyable

                                                                      aloha, Tony