Saturday, February 6, 2010
Canoe House at Mauna Lani Bay: So-So Dining in Paradise
Restaurant Name: Canoe House
Restaurant Location: 68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive • Kohala Coast, Hawaii
The Canoe House at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel is hit or miss.
Our dinner there last night was a series of highs and lows. We arrived for our 7:30 dinner reservation, only to be seated in the back corner of the restuarant, next to the bathrooms, at a table for 5 - there were just two of us, dressed very nicely (so it wasn't based on flip flop and tank top attire). Perhaps you have to be staying at the hotel to warrant a table for the correct size of your party and even a partial view of the sand?
Once seated, we were promptly served water and fresh bread and crackers. However, we proceeded to sit at our table for the next 20 min. while waiters busily served the tables on all sides and ignored us. Finally, we flagged down a waitress and very nicely asked if a waiter was assigned to our table. The waitress said she would get him and offered to take our drink order. She returned a few minutes later to apologize to us for being neglected and said there was some confusion over who was responsible for our table. We appreciated the apology and our wine was served promptly and was excellent.
Another server brought an amuse by - an ahi poke, which my husband enjoyed (I'm not a raw fish fan). About that time our actual waiter showed up to take our order. We had to ask if there were any specials, to which he informed us that they were all sold out. He also failed to show any sign that we'd been ignored for over 20 min. Hmmm....Things took a major upturn when our starters arrived however. The crab salad was outstanding, with large pieces of claw meat, fresh greens and tomatoes, and a lovely vinegrette. My husband ordered the heirloom tomato salad which was also incredible! Although he noted a bit of finishing salt would have turned it into something "out of this world" - no salt or pepper on the table. For entrees I had the Onaga, which came in an herbed broth with braised vegetables. the broth and vegetables were excellent, but the fish was completely overcooked - sadly to the point of being inedible. My husband's entree was excellent however - the Mahi Mahi served with crispy pork belly - an imaginative version of surf and turf.
For dessert we shared a banana brown butter tart, which was really more of a bar-type dessert, not a traditional tart. The "tart" was served next to a dollop of whipped cream with a strawberry on top, a small dish with black sugar ice cream (very good), and some caramel sauce drizzled next to that on the plate. We were seriously unimpressed with the dessert, until we sampled a bite with a little bit of everything all together. Wow! Why didn't they serve the tart with the ice cream on top, drizzled with the caramel sauce and the strawberry? It would have been amazing. The "deconstructed" approach just didn't work here. The latte I got with dessert was good, and came promptly, and hot. Oh, and be sure to save room for the mini madalines, strawberry marshmellows, and amazing chocolates that they bring with the bill - soooo good and much better then our dessert.
Our waiter did take our wine off the bill, because "it wasn't right that we'd been neglected at the start of our meal" - still no apology from him though. But we appreciated the gesture.
All in all, the evening was fun, but the service was horrible, and the food was totally hit or miss - either incredibly good or a total dud.