Gripe: Diamondhead Grill inside The Lotus at Diamond Head hotel; part of the Starwood/W family. One would think that this would be an elegant and cutting-edge dining experience based on the brand, but it turned out to be one of those expensive meals that just was not worth the money.
We entered a beautifully furnished dining room that featured live jazz music and a very friendly and attentive host. The problem was that the dining room was nearly empty: sign number one that this was going down-hill.
Being fairly adventurous with my cocktails, I ordered a cardamom-infused martini that I had to send back. While spice-infused cocktails can be amazing when done right (try Farmer Brown in SF: http://www.farmerbrownsf.com/menu.html), this tasted like licking a bar of soap.
I ordered 2 small plates for my meal, one being the Seafood Martini and the other being the Vegetable Stack. The Seafood Martini featured a large portion of champagne-poached crab, shrimp and scallops mixed with a few crunchy and finely chopped vegetables. Sounds good, right? Well, the crab tasted like it came out of a can and the rest of it was definitely forgettable, at best. The Vegetable Stack, on the other hand, presented me with a bad case misrepresentation. The menu described it as a stack of fresh vegetables that included tomatoes, asparagus and spinach. I was looking for something refreshing and light, but what came out was quite the opposite. The vegetables were layered with globs of cheese and gnocchi. Who said anything about gnocchi??
I was thoroughly disappointed with this meal not only because of how much we paid for it, but because I was so excited to treat myself to something nice and it let me down in all respects. My one hope is that I possibly ordered the worst items on the menu, but even if I actually believed that (which I don't), you are only as strong as your weakest player and this restaurant was like the scrawny kid with thick glasses on the dodge ball team.Thankfully, the horror of Diamond Head Grill was over with after the first night, so I was able to experience some really great moments in food. The highlights are featured below:
Tailgating Hawaiian Style: Who knew that I would ever eat Ahi Poke made fresh in the University of Hawaii's Aloha Stadium parking lot? I agree that it sounds a bit sketchy, but I assure you that it was some of the freshest fish that I had the pleasure of eating on my trip. In addition to the Ahi Poke, the local-led tailgating party boasted some of the best short-ribs I have ever had and a selection of light beer at the ready. The cook was very proud of his food and explained to me that the main ingredients in many of his marinades were soy sauce, scallions, and ginger. Not only was the food amazing, but the hospitality was wonderful. Their tailgating tent served as our one-stop shop for food, drinks, music, an air-conditioned party bus, and our 25-yard line tickets. Amazing!
Hula Pie: I ordered this on the recommendation of my best friend and University of Hawaii alum from Duke's at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach hotel. While extremely simple, this sky-high macadamia nut ice cream pie was gobbled up before it even got a chance to melt. The ice cream is layered on a chocolate cookie crust and topped with fresh whipped cream and fudge. At a reasonable $7, this giant slice is worth the money, especially on a hot Hawaiian afternoon.
A Cheeseburger in Paradise: I didn't think I would be eating any red meat on the trip, but right before we left for the airport, we took our sad (and slightly hungover) heads to Cheeseburger in Paradise. I don't know if it was because the end of our vacation was upon us or what, but this burger was one of the juiciest and most well-balanced I have eaten. The combination of the large patty, the "secret sauce", grilled onions and the extremely fresh and eggy bun made for a winning combination that I will not soon forget.
Unfortunately, I teased you all with promises of fried goodness but did not realize the distance between my hotel and the malasadas. Since a 30 minute walk was out of the question while on vacation, I never made it out to Leonard's. The good news is that now I have a delicious reason to visit again, which I heartily welcome! :)
Here's a little nibblet until the next post. it is completely unrelated to Hawaii, but exciting nonetheless! http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/dining/11kumq.html