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Big Island Birthday: Honolii and Hilo Bay…Cafe

June 27, 2010
bridge

Just past Hilo's Honolii Beach Park

When you have a special occasion to celebrate in Hawaii, you inevitably face the decision:  casual beach potluck or gourmet fusion restaurant?

One of my favorite memories from my first birthday in Hawaii (June 2000) is the surprise beach cookout at White Plains beach in Ewa that friends put together for me without my knowledge, followed the next night by our planned-ahead-of-time Honolulu beach walk that started at Shore Bird in Waikiki.

So this year, I gave up on trying to choose between beach and restaurant and just decided to go with both. Why not? I’m only 29 once right? (Um, not exactly…but I’ll go with that for as long as my friends are willing to be complicit in the deception.)

ocean view Honolii

Under the Honolii bridge

Friday night was a casual gathering of friends at a beautiful old Hilo property just past Honolii Beach Park, the renowned East side surf spot.  We grilled lamb kabobs, enjoyed a few bottles of wine and just sat and ‘talked-story’ under the almost-full moon and the Honolii Bridge.

Birthday Day 2 – Hilo Bay Cafe

Local beef carpaccio to start

Hilo Bay Cafe is an oft-visited destination on special occasions when trips to Volcano Village or the Kohala coast are not practical.  One of Hilo’s best restaurants, in my opinion, Hilo Bay is small enough to thrive in this roll-up the-sidewalks-at-9-pm kind of town.  The quality is consistent and the staff always accommodating and professional.

Unlike Devany, who writes for Edible Hawaiian Islands, I’m no food-writer, so don’t look for terribly insightful critiques from me.  But I do like to support local businesses that support local farmers and strive to use organic ingredients…so, this is my nod to Hilo Bay Cafe!

(We’ve noticed that they like to change their menu fairly regularly.  The grilled jumbo pork chop is a favorite, but it’s not available right now.  We also like to get the two entrees listed below to share.)  Our choices last night:

Appetizer

peppered local beef carpaccio with horseradish cream, capers, and micro greens

dessert

Bread pudding for dessert

Entrees

free-range chicken—roasted breast and black truffle stuffed thigh—with artichoke polenta, baby green beans, truffled sweet tomatoes, and shallot beurre blanc

macadamia nut-praline scallops with capellini, bacon bits, and beurre blanc

Dessert

chocolate bread pudding with pistachio gelato

Visit the Hilo Bay Cafe website for great photos of the restaurant, to learn their “dark secret” and to see lunch and dinner menu options.

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