Fine Dining With South Shore Views

The Beach House owner Michael Hooks and managing partner Tim Obert

Imagine fish so fresh it was swimming in Kaua’i’s translucent depths just hours ago. Then add vibrant island ingredients, expert ministrations of an award-winning chef – now picture eating it just a pineapple’s throw from the coast.

That’s what you get when you dine at The Beach House in Koloa.

Perched on an acre of land, the eatery’s expansive view includes Lawai Beach and PK’s reef, where snorkelers and surfers bob in the South Shore’s heavenly waters.

I’m sitting in the vaulted dining room where staff is electric with a pre-service buzz. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow the clean smell of the sea to wash in as sailboats lazily glide toward unknown destinations.

Cool, sweet and savory Watermelon Salad

“We get to watch whales every day,” owner Michael Hooks says as the late afternoon light reflects in his energetic blue eyes. “We get to see amazing sunsets, and during the summer the surf is breaking.”

Dazzling views, delicious food and excellent service intertwine to make The Beach House an award-winning restaurant.

Dubbed “One of the Most Romantic Restaurants in Hawaii” by The Travel Network, The Beach House has won 26 awards including Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence for 2009 and 2010.

It is this year’s winner of the Hale Aina Gold Award for Best Restaurant on Kaua’i, an award the restaurant has received 11 times since opening in 2000.

“It’s quite an award. It’s wonderful to be recognized by the people of Hawaii, both on the island of Kaua’i and the state,” Hooks acknowledges. “You can never compromise your standards, and maybe that’s why we keep winning awards.”

The Beach House prides itself on high-quality ingredients – and not the expensive kind imported from around the world.

Crispy Stuffed Crab Roll with Fresh Ahi

“Eighty-five percent of our fish comes from Kaua’i, and the rest comes from Oahu,” Hooks says of the fresh fish brought in daily by Kaua’i fisherman Kevin Yamase, Dustin Akita, Walton Souza and Chad Kubo.

One bite of the Crispy Stuffed Crab Roll ($18) and I can taste the salty brine that you only get with fresh fish. Crab meat and cucumber are rolled inside tender ahi and secured in nori before it’s coated in panko bread crumbs and flash fried. A pool of zippy soy wasabi vinaigrette surrounds the appetizer.

“About 50 percent of our produce comes from Kaua’i,” Hooks says of adapting to the limitations of a small island. “We stay true to quality. I’m not the cheapest restaurant because we hold our quality standards very high.”

The Beach House’s use of fine ingredients and simple preparations are a delight to the palate.

Beach House boasts expansive ocean views

Take the Watermelon Salad ($10), for example. A juicy, sweet and refreshing concoction that encourages flavors to play off of each other. Layers of Omao greens, red onions and carrots are sprinkled with sweet caramelized macadamia nuts and savory Gorgonzola cheese. A raspberry vinaigrette ties it all together.

“You can make a good-looking plate,” Hooks tells me as I slip another irresistible bite into my mouth, “but if the flavors compete, you haven’t achieved anything.”

One of the most popular dishes is the Wasabi Crusted Uku ($30). Pungent wasabi and flaky panko coat the pan-fried snapper. The fish sits on a bed of Big Island green beans and julienned carrots sauteed in white wine and butter. A garlicky pilaf of long-grain rice bejeweled with Bhutanese red rice accompanies the dish. The whole thing is surrounded by a silky lilikoi lemongrass butter sauce flecked with black sesame seeds.

Wasabi Crusted Uku (snapper)

“We try to price our menu as competitively as we can, so when people walk out they feel they got value,” Hooks explains. “We make sure that our portion sizes are proper and, of course, we monitor quality.”

The elegance of The Beach House enables residents to transcend everyday moments.

“We’re a special-occasion restaurant,” Hooks admits. “It’s aunty’s birthday or someone is celebrating an anniversary. We provide a beautiful setting where people will be treated special.”

The Beach House restaurant, Open every day from 5:30 to 10 p.m. 742-1424. Reservations recommended. the-beach-house.com E-mail Marta Lane at write.kauai@hawaiiantel.net.

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