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Dashed Hopes in Waikiki

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


(page 4 of 4)

The pancakes at MAC 24/7 aim for shock and awe.  You need at least four people to eat one order.

Photo by Olivier Koning

MAC stands for modern American cuisine. “They’ve got soul food no matter where your soul is from,” said my wife as she perused the oversize menu. Some Hawaii: saimin, loco moco, seared ahi. A little Midwest: meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes, white cheddar mac and cheese. And a little Southern: fried chicken and waffles with country gravy.

I was poised to eat my way through the entrées. “No,” said my wife. “We have to have pancakes first.”

 “With our pancakes, we’re aiming for shock and awe,” said the waitress as she brought them out. An order of pancakes at MAC is as large as a birthday cake—14 inches in diameter, three high, with a mound of goodies, in this case, chunks of banana, walnuts, chocolate.

You’d need four people to eat an order, though it might be more comfortable with six or eight. Despite their size, they are just pancakes. If I thought you’d listen, I’d tell you not to order them. Even my wife ignored me, but, of course, she’s had a lot of practice at it.

I’m telling you not to order pancakes because there’s real food on the menu. After we’d both consumed a small wedge cut out of the stack, me under protest, we got down to the fun stuff.

On a long narrow plate came a tomato and Maui onion salad, the alternating slices sprinkled with an excellent bleu cheese and some flat leaf parsley, the edges of the plate drizzled with a freshly made pesto sauce.

My wife had the meatloaf, tasty, not too bready, with a thick tomato sauce baked into the top. It was served on a clear gravy with lots of those wonderfully textured shemeiji mushrooms from the Big Island. Even the plate looked great, with a raft of jade green asparagus and a large portion of garlic mashed potatoes.

The lobster potpie was even better. Potpies tend to get soggy crusts. This one did away with the crust altogether. It was simply topped with a golden dome of freshly baked puff pastry. Bubbling in a rich cream sauce were pearl onions, baby carrots, green beans, new potatoes, Big Island mushrooms—and lobster, lots of it. Both the shellfish and the vegetables still had great texture. I am getting hungry just recollecting it.

MAC has a full bar, and with the lobster, I felt compelled to drink a glass of chardonnay. But the drinks that might command your attention are nonalcoholic. There was an egg cream that brought back New York. A cherry-lime rickey that brought back my childhood. And a ginger ale made from fresh ginger syrup that redefines the beverage.

If you can forgo the pancakes, there are cupcakes worth having for dessert. The bakery’s still aiming for shock and awe, though. These are cupcakes of massive girth—carrot cakes and peanut butter-filled chocolate cakes, and a stunning pineapple-upside-down cupcake with Malibu rum.

We took cupcakes home to the children to make them feel better after we tortured them by describing the pancakes they’d missed.

I managed to rack up a bill of $90 with tip, but we ordered more food than two people could possibly eat—and I just had to have the $25 lobster potpie. Prices are otherwise moderate. Pancakes for six or eight are $11.

This is a remarkable restaurant, with a conscientious kitchen, an unpretentious, friendly staff. And you don’t have to ask whether it’s open.     
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Honolulu Magazine February 2018
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