Valentine’s Brunch With A View

A few Sunday brunch offerings

What if this Valentine’s Day you could whisk your sweetheart away to a far-off exotic location where the two of you could retreat to a luxurious resort with incredible views, four-star service and meticulously prepared meals? If, instead of thousands of dollars, it was only going to cost a shade more than an average night out, would you do it?

If you are reading this on Kaua’i, you’re practically there already. No need for plane tickets – just hop in the car and bring your special Valentine to Sunday Brunch at Makana Terrace at St. Regis Princeville Resort.

Extreme luxury, at what amounts to reasonable prices ($60 adults, $30 keiki 12 and under), is how it felt when visiting Makana Terrace (formerly Cafe Hanalei at the Princeville Hotel) one recent Sunday with my own Valentine (plus one little Valentine).

The first thing one notices about Makana Terrace is the view – even if you’ve seen it a hundred times before, it is truly breathtaking. No matter the weather, this vantage point over Hanalei Bay is one of the best views on Kaua’i, if not all of Hawaii. Add to that a comfortable, light, airy dining space and you’ve got a venue that is romantic, inspiring and just plain gorgeous.

Located on St. Regis Princeville Resort’s west-facing eighth floor lanai, Makana Terrace overlooks Hanalei Bay, the Namolokama range and Makana mountain in the distance. With winter’s more frequent running waterfalls and big surf, this is undoubtedly one of the best places on Kaua’i to enjoy a scenic meal. The restaurant has spacious indoor and outdoor seating areas with every table offering views that people literally travel thousands of miles to enjoy. This is one restaurant where you will enjoy the food and really feel “lucky you live Kaua’i.”

St. Regis Princeville Resort chef de cuisine William Chen and executive sous chef Franco Diaz

Onto the food itself. Makana Terrace offers a Sunday brunch second to none. Executive sous chef Franco Diaz and new addition chef de cuisine William Chen have created a menu that is so extensive, it’s not possible to describe everything here. Offers include something for every taste, from savory brunch classics such as smoked salmon on bagels, eggs Benedict and beef Wellington, to pasta dishes, curried vegetables, seafood chowder, breakfast meats and chilled shrimp, mussels and crab.

There is a pancake/crepe station, an omelette station, light salads and fresh fruit, pastries, breads, cheeses and a number of special dishes that will appeal to kama’aina palates – such as tri-color sushi rolls and ahi poke “cocktails” served chilled over avocado puree. One of my favorite dishes was the very light, refreshing and distinctive lobster-tangelo salad with slivers of palm hearts. Served with a crisp sesame lavosh cracker, it’s a fine interlude between other dishes.

Perhaps most outstanding, however, are the desserts. This is where pastry chef Josiah Huelle and the entire kitchen staff really shine. Using the best local ingredients, desserts such as Hanalei apple banana mousse with sticky toffee caramel, mango black forest, Hana Coconut Kula strawberry drizzle and Maui vanilla bean panna cotta fruit caviar might be the final straw that breaks your New Year’s resolution camel’s back. For the calorie conscious, there is a sugar-free vanilla bean Maui papaya mousse. But if you do indulge in Kula strawberry creme lilikoi macaroons, you needn’t be guilt-stricken because they’re served in small sherry glasses.

Diaz’s eyes light up as he gestures, “this long table is filled with desserts – tarts, shooters, mousses. We plan all the different textures and flavors here. I think it’s one of the highlights of our brunch.”

Sunday brunch desserts at Makana Terrace

Since Princeville Hotel was rebranded and opened anew as St. Regis Princeville Resort in September 2009 (after an $80 million renovation), Diaz has overseen the outlet’s operations. But from this January, Chen, an East Coast native formally trained in France and most recently from the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki, is in charge of Makana Terrace.

Meanwhile, Diaz, a Chicagoan who came to Kaua’i from the St. Regis Aspen Resort, oversees all culinary operations at St. Regis Princeville.

Chen explains that Makana Terrace strives to showcase the best fresh produce the islands have to offer, be it starfruit, drag-onfruit, lychee or mangos from “just down the street.”

By doing so, it adds appeal to diners visiting from far away while helping support local farmers.

If your regular routine involves grabbing a bite to go or eating while standing over the kitchen counter, let Valentine’s Day be the excuse to treat yourself and your sweetheart to a dining experience you’ll remember long after the day has passed.

After a leisurely brunch, you may find that a few hours of play in the Princeville area will be just enough to leave you craving a small bite to eat and a drink. From 4 to 7 p.m., the St. Regis Bar offers live jazz and pupus, which is a fine way to continue the celebration. For Valentine’s Day purists for whom only Feb. 14 will do, Makana Terrace also offers a three-course meal for two for $65 (Feb 11-14).

If you still haven’t decided where to enjoy a special Valentine’s meal, consider Makana Terrace’s Sunday brunch the day before Valentine’s Day. You’ll be a day early, but in matters of beauty, love and good food, there’s no such thing as too soon.

Sunday brunch at Makana Terrace is offered 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. For reservations, call 826-9644,

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