on April 11, 2009
We had heard mixed things about Mama’s … mainly stemming from the cost of the food. Well, it was the most expensive meal we have every had, but was it worth it? Absolutely yes. Every step of the meal, from location to service to food was top notch. The restaurant is what I would describe as casual elegant with soft lighting and warm woods. No white table cloths or stuff feel … the atmosphere was unmistakably Hawaii. The entire restaurant is open to the oceanfront, affording a lovely view of the beach and the soothing sounds of the waves crashing along the shoreline. I had the best fish I have every tasted in my entire life at this restaurant – Opakapaka – upon which no other fish dish we enjoyed during our entire trip could live up to the fish I ate at Mama’s. We started with their Shrimp Won Tons with macadamia nut dipping sauce as an appetizer and then moved on to salads. I had the Waipoli Baby Romaine and Big Island Heart of Palm Salad with Reggiano Parmesan vinaigrette and Nathan had the Haiku Tomato, Maui Onion and Point Reyes Blue Cheese Salad with virgin olive oil, eighteen year old balsamic vinegar and pine nuts. My husband is not a big fan of tomatoes so when the waiter told him they could do ‘whatever he wanted’, he asked that they add some greens to the tomato salad. Both salads were fresh and light, but my husband’s was amazing. The greens, combined with the sweetest, most flavorful tomatoes, sweet maui onion and blue cheese just burst in your mouth with flavor. We moved on to entrees and my husband ordered the Mahimahi stuffed with lobster, crab, Maui onion and baked in a macadamia nut crust. I ordered the Opakapaka sautéed with Kamuela tomatoes, white wine, garlic and capers. We both agreed that my opakapaka was the better of the two dishes. Although I was beginning to get full, I stuffed every flavorful, light, buttery bit of fish in my mouth, savoring each bite and wishing there was more when I was done. We finished with the Polynesian Black Pearl and the Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp, both of which were excellent. In total, our meal cost $260 (which included drinks) and was the most expensive meal we have ever had. Why so much? Well, the quality of ingredients partially accounts for the cost, but overall, we felt the extra price related to service. Mama’s has their service so efficient; you don’t even notice when they are there and when they are not. Our waiter started off our meal with "We can do whatever you want. Just ask." And we felt like we were the only people in the restaurant and we had the full, undivided attention of the staff. As we finished each item, there always seemed to be someone standing off to the side watching our table to make sure that empty dishes were cleared and our water was full. And it was smooth and precise – no water sloshing onto the floor as the glass was filled or a waitstaff reaching over you to grab your glass to fill it. There was not one time I had to stop my conversation with my husband or lean back from my chair to accommodate a waitstaff trying to service our table. My husband believes that to accomplish this, they would watch for a lull in conversation or a point that the diner would look away and swoop in to handle their service so you would not notice they were there. It was the best service we have every received at a meal and justified the cost. If you are looking for a lovely meal, on a beautiful beach, with great service, this is the place to go. If you are going to run the numbers in your head off the menu during the meal and flip out at the price when you are finished, then don’t bother. This is a place to go in with the expectation that it is going to be expensive, but it will be worth it. We visited knowing that it would be our ‘splurge’ romantic meal for our trip and were very pleased with the outcome. It was our most favorite meal on the trip. Loved Mama’s! As a side note, a couple nearby ordered one appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert and split every course. So, if you want to try Mama’s and not flip out at the cost, this may be a nice option. They appeared to have their ‘system’ down and I would imagine it would be a good way to enjoy the restaurant, come home full, and only pay half the price. Very smart ‘budgeting’, IMO.
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