Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Four Hawaii restaurants make OpenTable's Top 100 'Most Romantic' list

Leni Knight photo
From left, Shige Purdy, Todd Capela and Julio Caetano welcome lovers to Michel’s at the Colony Surf on Valentine’s Day. The restaurant is one of four that made OpenTable.com’s list of 2015 Most Romantic Restaurants in the United States.

In time for your Valentine’s Day planning, Open Table has released its 2015 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America, including four in Hawaii.

The list reflects opinions gleaned from more than 5 million restaurant reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Hawaii’s most romantic, according to Open Table users are:

>> Brown’s Beach House at The Fairmont Orchid, Kohala Coast

>> Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante, Wailea, Maui

>> La Mer at Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki

>> Michel’s at the Colony Surf, Waikiki

Leni Knight photo
Chef Hardy Kintscher’s classic French dishes, often incorporating local ingredients, are crowd pleasers.

The list comprises restaurants in 31 states and Washington, D.C. California has the greatest number of winners with 15, followed by New York, Texas and Virginia with eight each, and Arizona, Florida and North Carolina with seven apiece, and Nevada with five.

Colorado, Hawaii and Illinois each have four. The complete list is at: www.opentable.com/most-romantic-restaurants-in-america/

I happened to dine at Michel’s Feb. 4, and even though I was with girlfriends, I can vouch for the still-romantic-after-all-these-years vibe of the restaurant, from executive chef Eberhard “Hardy” Kintscher’s classic French menu to the mood-setting expanse of beach and sunset, to the hospitality and indulgent service.

Nadine Kam photos
Part of Michel’s charm and romance is its beach setting with beautiful sunsets just outside its windows that are open save for blustery days.

Few restaurants offer showmanship on the dining room floor these days, but here, the wait staff are called on to risk singed hair for flambé dishes, and to plate and create a sauce as well as any professional chef.

On the menu for Valentine’s Day will be an amuse of Scottish smoked salmon and bay shrimp; first course of creamy abalone and wild mushroom chowder; second course choices of Big Island beef carpaccio, warm Maine lobster salad, or Pacific oysters on ice or baked Rockefeller style; main course of bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin or grilled mahimahi; and dessert of white chocolate mascarpone cheesecake or Belgian dark chocolate-strawberry coupe. The cost is $150 excluding tax and tip.

Michel's is at 2895 Kalakaua Ave. Call (808) 923-6552. Here’s a look at what might be on the table on a more typical day:

The danger of escargot is filling up on bread to get every last drop of garlic herbed butter before the meal even begins.

Seared diver scallop in passionfruit-white wine sauce with angel hair and micro cilantro.

Non-flash video

Beneath this puff pastry dome is a lovely tomato bisque topped with pesto cream.

Foie gras and toast.

Dolce 2007 Napa Valley Late Harvest Wine accompanied dessert.

Michel’s Ocean Bounty en papillote, containing Alaskan diver scallop, prawn, Tristan lobster tail and opakapaka baked with grilled zucchini, roasted tomato, spinach, and okinawan sweet potato, with coconut saffron sauce and lemon butter.

 Leni Knight’s picture of me saving the intermezzo of dragonfruit sorbet to my Evernote Food dairy.

Beef tenderloin au poivre flamed in Jack Daniels with black peppercorn crust served with garlic mashed potatoes, red cabbage and green peppercorn sauce.

Hummingbird cocktail poured over fruit-filled ice cubes.

Bing cherries flambéed in cognac and amaretto served with vanilla gelato and Belgian cake with chocolate center.


  1. Hi Nadine! I sent you an email at your Honolulu Pulse email address but thought I'd comment here too, would love to connect with you to ask you a couple of questions! Let me know how I can reach you. Thank you!

    1. Hi Paulina, you can drop me a line at nkam@staradvertiser.com