Dining Al Fresco On The Terrace
When I decided to check out the seafood buffet at Kaua’i Beach Resort on a recent Friday night, I was pleasantly surprised to find that dining at the hotel’s Naupaka Terrace felt like being on vacation.
My dining companions, John and his 12-year-old son Zeb, and I ate on the restaurant’s cool, shaded lanai looking out at the hotel’s lovely grounds and waterfall, while the sweet and mellow voice of Lopaka, the evening’s musician who performed on the stage near the swimming pool, wafted to our table in the form of contemporary Hawaiian music, including songs by Kaua’i’s own Shilo Pa.
It seemed like a world away from our responsibilities, and we didn’t have to pack suitcases or take a plane.
Friday night’s food selections are modeled somewhat after a beach-side clambake, explains executive chef Mark Sassone.
Highlights include freshly steamed, head-on shrimp from Kekaha and clams, both with garlic butter for your dipping pleasure, as well as oysters, mussels, poke, cold peel-and-eat shrimp with the most delicious cocktail sauce I’ve tasted, mild Italian sausage sautÃ©ed in peppers and onions, breaded mahi and ultra-sweet Kaua’i corn on the cob – all you can eat for $29.95.
“We get a ton of locals,” Sassone said. “You just can’t beat this price for all this seafood.”
There’s more, too: a moist and flavorful roast sirloin, three types of salads, fresh fruit and desserts.
Sassone said children favor the breaded mahi, and sure enough, Zeb pronounced it “amazing” and “very tender for something that’s breaded.” The boy’s got a future in restaurant reviews as truly the mahi was cooked just right – a feat for a buffet setting – and was slightly sweet thanks to a marinade of shoyu, lemon-lime, ginger and a little bit of sugar.
Sassone said all the food for the buffet is prepared just before it’s served to assure it’s fresh.
“It’s something we take a lot of pride in,” he said.
In fact, the shrimp and clams are cooked on the spot at one end of the buffet spread, ensuring a plentiful supply.
After enjoying the mahi and poke, I decided to get out of my comfort zone a bit and try the mussels, oysters and clams in the spirit of the buffet’s clam-bake theme. I discovered I like clams, especially in garlic butter, and the mussels in the aforementioned delicious cocktail sauce. I was also reminded that the beauty of a buffet allowed me to leave all the rest of the oysters for people who like them.
Our attentive server, Suzanne, brought us each hot hand towels to wash our peel-and-eat shrimp fingers – a very nice touch.
appetizers prepared by Sassone and artwork on display. Admission is $20.
“We really try hard to put our best foot forward when it comes to local functions,” Sassone said.
“It might sound clichÃ©, but it’s because we care. We really do.”
The Friday and Saturday night buffets at Naupaka Terrace at Kaua’i Beach Resort are available 6 to 9 p.m.; reservations recommended. Come early to enjoy live music from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Call 245-1955, press option 3.