Dashed Hopes in Waikiki

The report on three restaurants isn’t pretty, but the fourth is a standout.


(page 3 of 4)

The Man About Town protested. When we were drinking our little samples, he’d tried the Framboise. He had the standard American reaction: “Horrible. It’s not even beer, it tastes like Kool-Aid.”

Never underestimate the power of ice cream to adjust someone’s world view. Confronted with a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating on top of the Lindemans Framboise, he went crazy. “This is the greatest dessert ever. I can’t believe it. This is the only reason I’d ever come back here.”

For the record, Lindemans Framboise does not taste like Kool-Aid. It tastes remarkably like fresh raspberries, which you might keep in mind the next time you’re ordering your date a beer.

We also ordered a chocolate stout float, but raspberry’s the way to go. Dinner for two, with a remarkably restrained quantity of beer, was $124 with tip.

Atlantis Seafood & Steak
2284 Kalakaua Ave. Suite 201 // 922-6868 // Lunch daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., dinner nightly 5 to 10 p.m.  // Parking at former IMAX parking lot on Seaside Ave., take $3 off bill ($6 for 10 hours, weekend $7 for 10 hours) //  Major credit cards

I suppose I should have been beyond disappointment by the time I got to Atlantis. Unfortunately, I was hungry, as was the friend who joined me upstairs in the retail complex that replaced the Waikiki 3 Theatre.

Atlantis is all brass and glass. Its best feature is a lanai that allows you to gaze down on vacationers parading along Kalakaua. However, that pleasure was somewhat diminished by the racket of cement mixers building the new Hilo Hattie outlet across the street.

 We were there for a late lunch, but, starving, we were at first grateful the dinner menu was available. However, the blackened ahi nachos turned out not to be nachos. There were a few taro chips bundled up in a ti leaf. But this was mainly a portion of sliced, seared ahi—but not really seared. The fish had been overcooked to medium rare, faint pink in the middle.

This presentation was elaborate, with two sauces, the first a perfectly acceptable salsa fresca, the other a guacamole. Unfortunately, the guacamole had the same uniform color and perfectly homogenous texture as the kind you buy frozen at Costco. We actually were hungry enough to eat it, and to order entrées.

Never underestimate the power of ice cream to adjust someone's world view.

The spicy seafood pasta wasn’t spicy, but it did contain seafood, including bits of fish that tasted remarkably fishy, as if perhaps it was past its prime. “At least the scallops are OK,” said my friend. “But if I wasn’t so hungry, I’m not sure I’d eat much of this.”

As you might expect in a restaurant where many of the patrons were wearing JTB stickers, the menu was heavy on surf-and-turf specials. I ordered the Filet Neptune—which promised to come with crab meat and Béarnaise sauce. I did find some crab dotted about the top of the steak. However, the thick yellow stuff ladled over the top was not Béarnaise, which requires tarragon, shallots and chervil, as well as some deft cooking.

The waitress seemed to regret her choice of profession. “OK,” she said as we stalled on the entrées, “ready for the bad news?” By which she apparently meant the check, not the food. She seemed disappointed that we wanted dessert and coffee, so she simply disappeared.

Another server eventually took our dessert order, then disappeared as well.

“You think dessert is really coming?” asked my friend.

Our original waitress zoomed by and slapped down a check. “I guess not,” I said. As we gathered our things, the second server ran up with dessert. “I bet you thought I forgot you.”
Dessert was a mango sherbet, not a sorbet, with commercial raspberry-flavored syrup. We regretted waiting.

Nobody came by to pick up my credit card, so we traipsed up to the hostess stand to pay $100 with tip, an awful lot for a bad lunch.

The restaurant validates parking at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, but, confided the young woman at the hostess desk, only when they happen to have validation stamps. But you know enough already to stay away, right?

MAC 24/7
Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio  // 2500 Kuhio Ave.  // 921-5564  // Open daily 24 hours  //  Validated parking, $3 for 3 hours, major credit cards

I wasn’t eager to eat at MAC 24/7. A 24-hour eatery on Kuhio? One that touts its pancakes? But, for once, I was pleasantly surprised. The Prince Kuhio became a Hilton last April 1st. The lobby has been totally redone, with a pleasant garden outside. And just walking into MAC 24/7 is a treat.

For once, a hotel has abandoned all the cliches of Hawaii décor. Following a trend in high-end restaurants across the globe, the hotel created a stunning contemporary diner, modern, nothing retro, nothing tacky. The design’s clean, colorful, with a counter that seats two dozen, booths and even a private dining room where the centerpieces on the table are fish bowls with live fish.

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