Waikiki Eats: Michel's at the Colony Surf

For the finest dining experience in Waikiki with an oceanfront view that I could think of, the first place that came to mind that we haven’t tried yet is Michel’s at the Colony Surf. This between my girlfriend and I as private celebration of my birthday.

The Colony Surf, which used to be a hotel but has since converted to condominiums, is situated at the footside of Daimond Head crater, at the far Daimond Head (east) end of Waikiki beach, within the last cluster of high rises in Waikiki, with nextdoor neighbors including Kaimana Beach Hotel & San Souci.

So the view from Michel’s on the ground — or should I say ‘beachside’ floor is actually looking “back” at the central part of Waikiki…

We actually had made reservations at 6pm for a window seat to catch the sunset, but arrived late (Hawaiian time), so our table was given up to the next in line. But that’s OK, as the table we got was still well within view of the Waikiki beach skyline at dusk…

If you’re already wondering about me taking photos like this, there were plenty of cameras flashing during the evening, so it was pretty much a non-issue with everyone dining around us. After all, this is “tourist central”.

Here’s a few more views around the elegant, yet quite relaxed open air dining room…

The bar…

A very romantic, dimly lit ambiance at night with Waikiki lights in the background…

Completing the romantic mood, beautiful live solo instrumental classical and Hawaiian slack key songs were played right next to our table by Na Hoku Hano Hano Award winner Jeff Peterson

Here’s how our table was set upon being seated…

So far everything looks (and sounds) FABULOUS.

OK, let’s check out the menu…

We started the dinner off with a glass each of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Director’s Cut” Cabernet Souvignon (2006)…


Francis Ford Coppola’s “Director’s Cut” Cabernet Souvignon (2006). $20/glass (or $80/bottle)

We thought of getting a whole bottle, but decided not to get smashed at Michel’s and try to focus more on the food. lol

As for the style of cuisine, while Michel’s menu is comprised mostly of French classics, there’s a splash of Pacific Rim thrown into the mix as well. All presented by Chef Eberhard “Hardy” Kintscher, who hails out of Germany (my peeps!), along with Sous Chef Jesus Guittap and Toni Kitamura.

Surprisingly Michel’s doesn’t offer complimentary dinner bread, but Lavosh and herbed butter instead…

Let’s try it…

Pretty good. I would have preferred warm dinner bread, but this works.

For appetizers, we chose the Vitello Tonnato…


Vitello Tonnato – Thin-sliced roasted veal, Yellowfin Ahi sashimi & tuna sauce served with arugula salad, tomatoes and lemon caper vinaigrette. $18

and being a French restaurant, as far as I’m concerned, the Helix Escargot Bourgogne was a MUST!…


Helix Escargot Bourgogne – Half a dozen French snails in Michel’s famous herbed-garlic butter. $18

For entree, my lovely girlfriend decided on trying one of their specials (not listed on the menu), the Potato-wrapped Moi…

This came with a Saffron Risotto…

While I decided on trying ‘Hardy’s Hawaiian Bouillabaisse’…


Hardy’s Hawaiian Bouillabaisse – An assortment of lobster, scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, salmon and local fish in a savory saffron-tomato broth with a touch of island herbs and flavors. $38.

The Bouillabaisse includes two toasted and garlic-buttered French Baguettes…

Now let’s go over how our apps’ and entrees tasted, first sampling the Vitello Tonnato…

The Lemon Caper Vinaigrette was great. It paired very nicely with the buttery-fresh ahi sashimi and thin slices of roasted veal. The ahi and veal also paired surprisingly well when eaten together. A tasty surf-meets-turf sensation on the palate.

Summing it up, I’ll give Michel’s Vitello Tonnato 4 SPAM Musubi for the delicious Lemon Caper Vinaigrette and wonderful marriage of flavors between the very fresh Ahi sashimi and thinly-sliced roasted veal. Great dish.

Now let’s try the escargot, which I like to put directly on a french baguette like this…

Oh. My. God! This is to die for! If there is a dish that God himself invented, this is it. As simple as it may sound, that herbed garlic butter insanely delicious!

The Escargot snails are very soft, tender and pleasantly flavorful. Not chewy and rubbery at all, nor do they have any over-earthy or dirt-like taste to them. They’re almost clam-like in flavor.

While I forgot to ask, I think  their “secret” flavor enhancer in the herbed-garlic butter is the addition of finely grated, melted Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is evident by the globules floating within and the baked-on brown crust on top of the baking dish.

Of course we sopped up every last drop of that amazing herbed-garlic butter with the bread…

The only thing I think this dish is missing are the shells. If they were served in the Escargot shells it would have had much better presentation impact. Still, the quality and flavor of this dish is so incredible, I’m still giving Michel’s Helix Escargot Bourgogne a certified 5-SPAM Musubi seal of approval.

Looks like we’re off to a great start. Now let’s sample the entrees, starting with her Potato-wrapped Moi…

They apparently use one of those spiral vegetable slicers than can turn potatoes, carrots or any other firm fruit and vegetable into long strings. Then they wrapped it around the Moi, which they first removed all of the spine and pin bones before wrapping it, effectively making every medallion boneless. Neat! It was drizzled with a Tobiko Aioli Sauce that added a nice contrast to the flavor of the Moi.

The potato wrapped around it almost had a bacon-like flavor to it due to the deep-frying method the whole fish was cooked.

Look, they even provide the head for all you fish eyeball eaters out there…

The garlic mashed potatoes and Manoa Lettuce and Hamakua Mushroom salad were simple in preparation, yet executed perfectly, with the salad having a lightly sweetened vinaigrette on it. Light, yet very nice.

The saffron risotto was also perfectly cooked, with a silky, creamy texture and wonderfully fragrant, slightly buttery-savory flavor.

We both really enjoyed everything about this dish, agreeing this deserves a Moi-tastic 4-SPAM Musubi. If this is on the menu when/if you dine here, although it’s not one of their signature French dishes, I’d still highly recommend it.

Now let’s dig into ‘Hardy’s Hawaiian Bouillabaisse’…


Hardy’s Hawaiian Bouillabaisse – An assortment of lobster, scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, salmon and local fish in a savory saffron-tomato broth with a touch of island herbs and flavors

The Bouillabaisse is brought to the table with the saffron-tomato broth in separate dicanter, which our waiter pours into the deep dish at the table.

Fishing around, I find an abundance of meaty sea morsels submerged beneath the broth, including these wonderfully tasty and tender scallops…

And a whole, still intact shelled giant lobster claw!…

The broth wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped though. It certainly wasn’t as “savory” as it says on the menu. It almost tasted like all they did was combine shellfish stock with tomato paste and perhaps a few herbs or spices and that’s it. They could have just as well dumped Campbell’s Tomato Soup in there and I’d probably hardly tell the difference. There just wasn’t anything interesting or special about it. No “Wow!” or “It” factor. Ya’ know? And it’s not just me, as my girlfriend tried the broth and and a piece of the fish inside and agreed with my assessment of it.

Thankfully most of the seafood in it were fresh, flavorful and tender, except for the giant prawn in the center, which was a little rubbery at the tail.

That said, I’ll give their Bouillabaise 1 SPAM Musubi. For a restaurant of this caliber, being “just average” is painfully disappointing, but sorry, they gotta’ work on that saffron-tomato broth. It just didn’t do it for me.

In retrospect of the menu, while we both obviously were in the mood for seafood on this occasion, I really should have ordered the Rack of Lamb Orloff. I’m almost certain I would have been much happier with that choice. Oh well, next time! And believe me, will will be back at Michel’s for my girlfriend’s Birthday which comes around in June. Can’t wait!

So far three hits and one miss (average isn’t good enough for a place like this). Not bad!

Now let’s see what’s for dessert…

As promised from the start, our waiter brought me a complimentary birthday dessert, which we have a Pineapple Lilikoi Macadamia Nut Cheesecake…


Pineapple Lilikoi Macadamia Nut Cheese Cake. Compliments of the house in celebration of Diner P’s 1st Birthday.

My, my, my, that’s pretty.

Getting her chocolate fix on, my girlfriend ordered the Chocolate Decadence Cake…


Decadence Chocolate Cake – with fresh berries and Macadamia Nut Ice Cream. $10.00

The included Macadamia Nut Ice Cream…

I didn’t ask, but if you ask me, this tasted like Roselani’s Macadamia Nut Ice Cream. It has the same very-roasted big chunks of Mac nuts like Roselani’s, and the same full-bodied vanilla ice cream flavor.

O.K., let’s try this Decandent Chocolate Cake…

You know what? Chocalate Cake is so not my thing, so I won’t even say what I think, but my lady LOVED IT, giving it a decadently-delicious 4 SPAM Musubi seal of approval, so we’ll go with that.

Now let’s try my Pineapple Lilikoi Macadamia Nut Cheesecake…

Oh. My. God! AWESOME! Ding-ding-ding, we have another WINNER! Easy 5-SPAM Musubi. Shoots, I’ll give 7 SPAM Musubi, as this masterpiece of a dessert is OFF-THE-CHARTS ono! And it was a FREE-BEE! Wheeeeeee!

The combination of the roasted Macadamia Nut crust, along with that slightly tangy, rich, buttery, not-overssweetened cheesecake layer, along with the glazed pineapples on top was INSANELY delicious.

I remember I once filled out a profile page for a website (I think it was Yahoo! personals.. nah, just kidding. lol) that asked “What would be the last thing on earth you’d want to eat leaving here?”. To which I answered “Japanese Chashumen” (pork shoyu ramen). Well, I think I’m changing that answer to “Michel’s Passion Fruit Pineapple Macadamia Nut Cheesecake”.

Wow, that was almost orgasmic. Now I need a cigarette. lol (just kidding, I dont’ smoke)

If you’re into tableside preparations, as you’ve seen on the menu, Michel’s has many dishes to choose from in every category that are presented that way…

This is the tableside-carved Chateaubriand…

Speaking of tableside, our server Larry was EXCELLENT. Maikai (job well done). He really made our dining experience at Michel’s a joy, being very knowledgeable, friendly and humorous as well. We felt pampered yet respected for our privacy as well. Couldn’t have been better. Parking is also very easy here with the complimentary (plus tip) valet service.

I’d give Michel’s 5 SPAM Musubi just for the service alone. And certainly 5 SPAM Musubi for the beautiful ambiance. How can ANY restaurant situated almost literally right on Waikiki beach not have a top-rated ambiance? Tell me one, and I’ll have to check if it’s snowing outside.

The only reason I’m not awarding Michel’s the top 5 SPAM Musubi rating on this visit was my disappointing Bouillabaise, which I must take into consideration, after all, that was my main course. Other than that, just excellent in every regard. For all the high points, Michel’s is highly recommended.

Michel’s at the Colony Surf
2895 Kalakaua avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii

Tel. 923-6552
www.MichelsHawaii.com

The Tasty Island rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related links:
Embracing Michel’s elegance at the Colony Surf – Honolulu Advertiser
Improving on the classics – Midweek
Michel’s at the Colony Surf: A Sunday Brunch Worth Repeating – HawaiiDiner.com
Michel’s at the Colony Surf – Yelp user reviews


Comments

Waikiki Eats: Michel's at the Colony Surf — 12 Comments

  1. Have been there on several occasions (and GM Philip Shaw remembered us on the 2nd visit) and the service & food (overall) never failed to impress. Something about tableside presentation and tuxedoed servers adds to the ambience (along with wine service in line with the Court of Master Sommeliers)… since our last visit about 2 yrs ago, maybe will take the Mrs for her B-Day this year.

  2. Pomai, I like the escargot very much and other dihes too.. My parents love the open air dining and will head there I guess you know I like fine dining out.

  3. pomai – i’ve been drooling over your blogs over the years i’ve been up in the NW. Looking at history, can see your pallette is getting more refined with each new blog. good for you! No fo’get the grindz places though…i live for those blogs! :) aloha no…

  4. hiyn_boy, mahalo for that. And don’t worry, there’s many more hole-in-the-walls around this island to conquer! Enough for a lifetime of blogging it seems.

    Kelike, great choice on the Escargot. Let us know how it goes on your experience at Michel’s.

    Ryan, as you probably know,Michel’s wine list is much more extensive than the list I have pictured. There’s an entire menu dedicated to bottled wine under that.

    Regardless of what food I’m pairing with, as long it’s a red wine, I’m happy.  Not one for white or blush.

    Kat, I must say, Michel’s is almost addicting. We both fell in love with the place and can’t wait to return, which we soon will!

     

     

     

     

  5. At first I thought the item on the menu said “Portuguese Steak” and wanted to know what it was. After reading the description and the price, I thought “this can’t be Portuguese steak” until I realized I read it wrong.

    (That’s meant to be “local” humor so I hope no one had taken offense, as I am part Portuguese as well).

  6. John, I suppose they could call a steak a “Portuguese Steak” if it were served with a Port Wine (from Portugal) reduction sauce. I don’t think Portuguese sausage would match very well with beef. The spices wouldn’t match (I’m guessing).

  7. Jeff Peterson!?
    Wow. I love coming to your blog to read about food, but Jeff Peterson! I like his style. That is so cool.

  8. Hello my name is anthony mccall,my grandfather,along with my grandmother started the Michels restaurant.I was wondering why there is no information on the history or the founders of this wonderful establishment.

    • Aloha Anthony,

      You’re right. Their website has nothing about the history of the restaurant.

      As it turns out, Michel’s was established in 1960 as a semi-partnership between Charles Barkhorn, developer of the Colony Surf and Michel Martin, who was born in Nice, France, then later became an entrepreneur in the United States.

      Michel Martin sought to offer 5-star service at his new Waikiki beach front restaurant, bringing on board Steve McCall (your grandfather?) as Maitre d’. Steve McCall, who had been head waiter at several upscale Waikiki establishments prior, quickly moved into the head position at Michel’s, developing his own following. He and owner Michel Martin would go on to become a perfect partnership in developing the upscale, exclusive reputation of Michel’s at the Colony Surf, as it continues to this day.

      Steve McCall also chaired one of the hospitality committees of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.

      Source:
      Creating Hawaii Tourism: A Memoir
      by Robert C. Allen

      • send me something and we will use it. purchased in a foreclosure and not a smooth transition. can’t find Anthony McCall
        and thanks…found this positng quite by accident
        thanks
        andy anderson

        • Aloha Mr. Anderson,

          What a great honor to have you post here! I’ve sent your comment direct to Anthony McCall.

          Mahalo,
          Pomai

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