Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Veranda (Four Seasons), Las Vegas, NV

I had breakfast here and it was truly wonderful. I had the smoked salmon. There was almost too much salmon to eat with a single bagel. Of course it came with all the usual accoutrement. My friend had the mini Belgian waffles which came with berries and cinnamon butter. Very nice. The coffee was superb, the orange juice fresh and the service delightful. The lunch and dinner menus looked very reasonably priced.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Border Grill (Mandalay Bay) Las Vegas, NV

Excellent ceviche. The menu is quite eclectic and tasty. Service is excellent and friendly. The portions are quite large so be careful not to over-order. The quesadilla is off the chain good.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cafe Concerto, HIlo, HI

Small restaurant, small menu, big taste. I really enjoy this small Italian restaurant across from the court house on Kilauea Avenue, in Hilo. Last night I had the Pasta Putanesca, and it was wonderfully flavored. My friend always has the Penne Pesto and love it. One of my favorites has been the pasta with clam sauce. We shared the Caprese Salad and it was more than enough for both of us, with some left over. It was very nice. This restaurant does not serve alcohol, but you can bring a bottle of wine with you and they will provide glasses and an opener. I found the people who work here lovely people, and the small restaurant is charming. This is one of my top recommendations for Italian food in Hilo.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hawaii Style Cafe, Kamuela, HI

Along the road to and from Waimea to Kawaihai, you will find a small breakfast-lunch cafe that serves an excellent breakfast and lunch. They are only open part of the day. The restaurant is about 31 years old, and has been under the ownership of the Kao'o family for the last 19 years. We were served by Kim who has been a waitress at the restaurant for all 31 years, and it's obvious that other than the food, she is part of the reason for this restaurant's longevity and success. We really felt welcomed by all the staff, and we were lucky enough to be served by Kim.

Now to the food. Most breakfasts come with a choice of pancakes. This is kind of a joke, because the pancakes themselves are at least two meals for the average person, and very delicious. The hashbrowns are nice and crispy, the way I like them. Eggs are eggs, and the were nicely prepared. The meat. OMG, I ordered the ham steak that was on special, and my friend had the bacon. The ham steak was gigantic and very nicely cooked. It was too big to eat in a single meal and I didn't even have the pancakes. The bacon came with about 10 strips, a huge portion. One of the things I noticed about their meats is that they were not over-seasoned, as breakfast meats often are. I didn't feel like my salt content was over budget. This allowed me to salt the things I wanted salted and leave those I wanted more plain, the way I like them. It was perfect.

One thing you should know, the restaurant only accepts cash, but there is an ATM in the restaurant for your convenience. Also, we have been here on the weekends and lines can be long, so if it's a nice sunny Saturday, expect to wait for a table. We were there on a Tuesday morning and while the place was full we got a booth within minutes. This is a Kohala must-eat restaurant. Kudos to the staff for being awesome.

Hau Tree Gazebo Bar, Kawaihai, HI

If you are looking for Hawaii style and romantic, The Hau Tree Gazebo Restaurant offers outdoor seating at the sand's edge in the beautiful Mauna Kea Hotel grounds. The sun sets directly offshore of this well-appointed restaurant/bar. It has a small menu compared to the Manta Ray Restaurant also on the grounds, but casual dress, casual atmosphere, good food and beautiful scenery make up for having fewer choices. It's a bit pricey, but not unexpected in this particular hotel. I had the fish and it was well prepared and tasty. Not a regular item, the beet gazpacho soup was absolutely wonderful, and if you've been reading my blog you know I love gazpacho. I am not even a big beet eater, but this was wonderful. The food was as expected for an outdoor bar that also serves burgers, but the sunset was captivating. A very romantic evening for sure.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Thai Thai Restaurant, Volcano, Hawaii

I really like this restaurant. I consider it the second best Thai restaurant in East Hawaii. The Thai food here is really tasty, particularly good is the pad thai. I have eaten through some of the menu and have enjoyed all the Thai dishes I've eaten here.

Having said that, yesterday I was just not in the mood for Thai food, but my partner was so we went there to eat. I made the distinct mistake of ordering the Teriyaki burger. Bluntly, this is punishment for not ordering Thai food. Don't do it. The burger had no teriyaki sauce, nor was it teriyaki in any form, in fact, it was barely what I would call a burger. There was a patty that rivaled the 99cent patty at McDonalds, and the toppings weren't that great. It was also served on a dry bun with little packets of mustard and ketchup. The frys were tasty. But, for $10, felt like it was more of a tax for not ordering their Thai food. It was so disappointing it made me feel bad about a restaurant that I normally like. So, beware, the burger here is to be avoided.

Kilauea Lodge Restaurant, Volcano, HI

This is where I go when I want to feel like I'm in Europe. The atmosphere was once pure hunting lodge, and can now best be described as hunting lodge-Hawaiian fusion. The menu is still on the more hunting lodge side. Start with the Hunter's soup with a rabbit base. A dash of salt and pepper and it's perfect. My friend had the mushroom risotto and loved it. I had the meatloaf, which is a 45 minute wait for cooking. I think it should have been more like a 55 minute wait because my meatloaf was underdone. Someone asked me why I would order meatloaf at a nice restaurant like this one and all I could say was that I was in that kind of mood. Every time I come here I am left with the same feeling. This is a good restaurant with good food and great service and interesting atmosphere, but it would take so little to go from being good to great. It's either that local attitude of "this is good enough" that seems to pervade the Big Island restaurant scene, or some reason I'm unaware of. One comment I always make, because we like olive oil with our bread, is that they should invest in a higher quality olive oil. The stuff they serve is certainly not virgin, let alone extra virgin, and has zero flavor. Sad, because the bread is kind of tasteless, and this would add some flavor. My suggestion to take this from good to great is to add some color and zest to the plating skills, and get a recipe for some tasty bread, and invest in some tastier olive oil. The one that is sold locally in markets that has the best flavor is Colavita. I'm sure it's available to restaurants. Overall, I will eat here again and again. I recommend this restaurant, but see if you don't feel the same as I do, good, but could easily be great.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ken's House of Pancakes, Hilo, HI

Ken's House of Pancakes is a Hilo tradition or something. It is always voted best breakfast because most of the time it's the only breakfast for miles. There are a few other options, but Ken's serves a pretty mean breakfast. There are all sorts of omelet options, egg plates, all served with either toast or an order of pancakes. One of the special things about the pancakes at Ken's is that you can top them with some very nice tropical syrups in addition to the more traditional maple syrup. Breakfast is served 24 hours a day.

Ken's has a huge menu with everything from loco moco to steak. The burgers are pretty decent, and if you are of a mind to have "all you can eat" check out the daily specials like taco Tuesday. Whenever anyone orders the really large saimin soup the gong is struck and the entire staff yells SUMO! After ten years, a bit tiring to hear this, but alas, it's for the tourists, or anyone coming in late at night that might consider falling asleep in the booth.

For the most part, Ken's is diner food and you get large portions for a decent price. There is really only one thing on the menu I will never order again and that's the chili. It is just plain horrible. So, stay away from that and you'll be just fine with the food here.