Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Honolulu: La Mer at the Halekulani

One of our anticipated dinners on the island was La Mer, located at the Halekulani. Usually hotel restaurants have a bad rap but this restaurant is Hawaii's longest consecutively ranked AAA Five Diamond restaurant and the hotel itself was fabulously beautiful. We learned about this restaurant while watching the Travel Channel some years back. It's been five years since our last trip to Honolulu and we vowed that we would try this restaurant once we got back to the island.

The Halekulani is located on Waikiki Beach and a few steps from the ocean. The restaurant itself is located in one of five buildings on the property above the Orchids restaurant.

When we arrived for our reservation, we were immediately greeted by the hostess by our first and last names. I can already tell by their hospitality that La Mer takes pride in their unparallel service. This is one of the few restaurants I've been to where I did not feel any sense of pretentiousness. Everyone was so friendly, from the bartender to the servers. All greeting us as we were escorted to our table.

I was so surprised that we were seated at one of the best seats in the house, an oceanfront table. You can't get any better than that aside from a Chef's Table. Even my purse and camera were given a stool right beside me (very nice touch).

My only concern was lighting. It was so dark, we could barely read our menus. Luckily, the staff noticed my camera and brought another larger lamp to our table.

As soon as we were seated, we were given complimentary champagne. Don't ask me what it was because I forgot (oops!). I also ordered a cocktail called a Ruby Slipper.

Since this is a French restaurant, we were served a popover canape. A popover is a hollow bread-like roll that is crispy on the outside and moist in the hollow inside. The Halekulani is known for their popovers which is usually served with a sweet jam or marmalade. The photo I took of it was pretty bad so I decided not to post it (bad lighting).

We decided to go with the two-course meal with dessert for $90 each. Both of us got different selections so that we can have a variety of dishes to share rather than doing the full menu degustation at $150 per person.

Amuse Bouche: Salmon-filled tart with a spring salad and citrus vinaigrette

Breads: French Baguette, Olive and a Dinner Roll

Sautéed Foie Gras presented with Green and White Asparagus

Monaco Style Fish Soup

Gratinée with Rouille and Parmesan

Chilean Sea Bass and “Kurobuta” Pork Belly on Alsatian Choucroute

with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and...

Parsley Potatoes

Roasted Goose Breast Accented with Sea Salt and Lavender Honey on Butternut Squash

Prior to dessert, we were offered complimentary selections from their French cheese cart but we declined. We were already stuffed and wanted to finish our dessert.

“Heirloom” Tomato Granité with Basil Essence

Chocolate Souffle with fresh berries

Symphonie "La Mer"

(from left to right)
Strawberry Dream: Flourless Strawberry Crêpes Filled with Vanilla Bean Crème Fraîche
Painter's Palatte: Almond Florentine with Mango Sorbet, fresh mango slices and Puréed Coulis
Passion for Chocolate: Valrhona Chocolate Ganache Tart

Fruits of Hawaii: Kula Strawberry Mirin Nage with Lychee

(from left to right) Apricot macaron, Strawberry gelee, Macadamia nut cookie, Blueberry pyramid, Chocolate caramel, Dark Chocolate with ganache-filled wafer

Afterthoughts: I think we had a solid meal at La Mer. It's probably the fanciest restaurant in Oahu since the others we've been to on the island were not quite at the level of traditional fine dining. The staff was exceptional and attentive; pretty much in line with experiences we had at Robuchon and Gagnaire. I like the fact that the Menu Degustation was completely different from the regular menu although I'm not sure its worth the $150 price tag. I noticed a mixed bag of reviews on Yelp. I probably wouldn't drop $500 on a dinner here but its worthwhile at the $200 price range (dinner for two).

Things to know:
  • Reservations can be made online at Opentable: http://www.opentable.com/la-mer-halekulani-hotel-reservations-honolulu?rid=41365&restref=41365
  • Hours: Mon-Sun from 6PM to 10PM.
  • Dress code: Dressy. Long-sleeved collared shirt or jacket required for gentlemen.
  • Restrictions: Adults and children 8 years and older.
  • Request to be seated at one of the oceanfront tables.
  • You will be asked to provide full names of all diners.
  • Menus: 2 to 4 courses with dessert or Menu Degustation (entire table, served until 9PM).
La Mer
2199 Kalia Rd
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 923-2311


maria said...

Wow its really yummy, my mouth the watered after watching this dishes. Can you please tell me where is this place where i can have really good food.
mexico cruise

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