Going All Gatsby At Gaylord’s

Light posts wrapped with twinkling lights pierce a darkening sky and highlight the one-lane driveway that stretches across the manicured lawn. Wilcox Mansion, a 16,000-square-foot Tudor archetype of English country house tradition, sits in shadow. Dapper parking attendants direct us past two Ford Model A Roadsters.

On Feb. 9, Kilohana Plantation threw a lavish fundraiser for the grand opening of Mahiko Lounge, the former dining room in Wilcox Mansion.

Benefiting Kaua’i United Way, the Great Gatsby Speakeasy costume party was a throwback to the 1920s.

Mahiko translates to sugar plantation, but tonight the lounge has been converted into a ritzy speakeasy. Dolled up flap-pers clutch the elbows of hard-boiled escorts and stream into the manor.

Down the left wing, dames get a free hotsy totsy makeover that includes makeup, hair, hats, feather boas, long satin gloves and a string of pearls. Lopaka Michael offers glasses of champagne, and the silky voice of Nina Starsong fills the air, accompanied on the piano by Ivo Monroe Miller.

A handcrafted, solid teak bar seats 16. Linen-fold wood molding matches the home’s wood trim, and new fixtures have been installed. Furniture imported by original owners Gaylord and Ethel Wilcox are reupholstered in rich, eclectic fabrics. Vintage black-and-white photographs depict renowned Hawaiian musicians, past celebrations and historic landmarks. A new sound system connects the Mahiko Lounge piano to speakers throughout the home.

I load my plate with fried rice balls stuffed with cheese, as well as a spoonful of olives, slices of cured meats, chunks of cheese, toast points, grilled and marinated asparagus, red bell peppers and eggplant, and beat it to the bar. I order a Classic Rum Runner with Koloa light and dark rum and make my way to the courtyard adjoining Gaylord’s restaurant.

White linen tabletops are adorned with red roses and votive candles. On stage, black-and white films play on a big screen. Swing Katz plays retro-electro swing that makes me dance and smile.

Dressed in red glad rags, Tony Aguilar (co-owner of Paco’s Tacos) looks abso-lute-ly keen as he twirls a tall blonde with long gams. My husband Dan tucks into a plate of kiawe-smoked prime rib and Hemingway Poached Prawns. He washes it down with Mahiko Bee’s Knees made with Tanqueray gin, fresh lime juice and honey.

Waiters pass by with trays of copacetic Oysters Rockefeller, but the cat’s meow is the pork lau lau. The elegant decorations and jovial atmosphere transform me into a wealthy Kaua’i socialite with nothing but good times and strong hootch in her future!

Happy hour at Mahiko Lounge features specialty pupus and cocktails, and the full Gaylord’s menu is available during dining hours. Live music and the restored piano are part of the weekly lineup.

Mahiko Lounge at
Kilohana Plantation
3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy., Lihu’e
Happy Hour 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Gaylord’s is open Monday-Saturday
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday Brunch: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Correction: The Feb. 13 issue of “MidWeek Kaua’i” incorrectly listed the number of horses at CJM Country Stables as 300.
The correct number is 30.

Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, go to TastingKauai.com.