Mariposa Offers New Fare with Mixed Results

Lunch service more lackluster than luxe.

Our lunch visit to Stage a couple of weeks ago made us feel like cheaters. In the best way possible. Like we were sneaking in on a fancy-pants meal and paying way less for it than it was worth. With that in mind, we thought we’d try to get that feeling back by hitting up other not-too-shabby restaurants on our weekday lunch breaks, and what better place to start than Mariposa at Neiman Marcus?

That was our train of thought, anyway.

What we expected: A nice, if not a little stuffy, midday dining experience with polished service and decent food at prices that were at least more affordable than a casual dinner out. We didn’t expect a hushed, dimly lit dining room or a three-person staff just for our table — the place is in a department store in a shopping mall, after all. We planned to get there, be shown to our table, get a couple of the popovers with strawberry butter that we love, a glass of the signature plantation iced tea and then try a few of the new menu items.

What we got: We eventually got the popovers, the iced tea and our lunch, but not until we had waited for 10 minutes for anyone to even acknowledge our presence at a table that hadn’t been properly bussed, and then waited another 10 minutes for our server to tell us she would be right back to take our drink order.

She did come back, and she was very kind and helpful, but had we really been on our lunch break (the truth comes out!), we would have had to settle for a lunch of popovers and iced tea because we were already almost an hour into it, and most bosses we know (not ours, of course) wouldn’t be cool with a two-hour lunch.

Lunch came quickly once we ordered. The Waialua Asparagus Salad ($20) was the hit of the meal. Blanched and bright green, the spears came topped with a slice of crisp speck, snow crab and a perfect pan-fried egg. The newly added Roast Turkey BLT ($16) should have been a slam dunk, but it was more bread than BLT, and was in serious need of more of the basil mayonnaise — and more bacon, avocado and tomato wouldn’t hurt either. The Andean Dream Quinoa Spaghetti ($20) with chicken sausage, caponata, parmesan and cherry tomatoes tasted…healthy. Healthy is good, and if you’re on the gluten-free bandwagon or do have a gluten allergy, it’s a good choice. It’s fresh and filling. But if we’re going for fresh and gluten free, we’ll just take the asparagus salad. Our total lunch bill for two, with tip: $78.

Mariposa, Neiman Marcus, 3rd Floor, Ala Moana Shopping Center, lunch from $16-$25, 951-3420.