A Mother’s Day Gift For All

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - May 04, 2005
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Enjoying tea at the Veranda are (from left) Marge Gample,
Nancy Deeley, Marion Murphy, Malia Siu, Jo McGarry, Vicky
Tanabe, Paula Kelley, Kim Gennaula, Shelley Sadler and
Barbara Suzuki

It’s a bit of a coincidence that my last column for the next couple of months should run right before Mother’s Day. I’m taking some time off to have our second baby, who is due the day this MidWeek article runs. So, I thought that my Mother’s Day gift to all of you would be to reveal some of my favorite spots for special moments with moms, or sisters, or aunties — or anyone you really enjoy sitting down with for delicious food and good conversation.

One of my favorite spots for lunch is at The Kahala Mandarin Oriental. Not at Hoku’s, although it’s arguably one of our finer restaurants, but at The Veranda — the light and open-air lobby where tropical breezes and first-rate service encourage immediate relaxation.

Here, a three-curry lunch buffet is served with a selection of a dozen or so side dishes. The curries vary daily and may feature Thai, Indian, seafood, vegetarian, beef or chicken, and all are served with Hoku’s famous naan bread and ahi dip. The atmosphere is serene, there’s a view across the ocean and out to the pool where dolphins play, and best of all, the total cost of lunch, including a selection of wonderful desserts, is just $15. You can call this my Mother’s Day gift to all of you — as it’s one of the places I like to think of as my own. Take your mom here if you want to sit and chat and enjoy a feeling of being in old Hawaii. I promise she’ll love it.

And speaking of old Hawaii, another favorite is the Waioli Tea Room, where tea and a wide variety of sandwiches, salads and entrées are served in an old plantation- style atmosphere. Pastries, desserts and afternoon tea are all truly worth the visit — and the unique setting beneath shady trees and fragrant flowers transports you to more relaxed times. The tea room is owned by The Salvation Army, though managed independently, and in recent years has undergone impressive changes to both its layout and menu. I love going here, and I’m sure that many moms will appreciate the unique atmosphere as well as the food. And how many tea rooms boast their own private chapel?

And finally, the Sheraton Moana Surfrider’s afternoon tea is a hard act to follow if you want to treat your mom to an afternoon with gorgeous beachside views at a classic Hawaii hotel. I’ve experienced afternoon tea everywhere from deep in the heart of Devonshire, England, (home of clotted cream) to ex-pat gatherings at grand hotels in Bahrain and Dubai, to pre-theater tea at Claridge’s in London, but there is nothing that equals The Banyan Veranda for this understated and most relaxing of rituals. Afternoon tea has been a tradition here since the early 1900s, and the waiters still serve tiny sandwiches and petit fours on tiered plates, with white-gloved hands. I haven’t had a cup of real tea in almost 10 months — and I’ll be heading over here for some Earl Grey in a china cup as soon as my pregnancy caffeine ban is over.

But for now, it’s going to be a month or so before I see the inside of another restaurant, and longer still until I have my first glass of wine in more than a year. I’m off to the land of no sleep and two hourly feedings; of diaper changes and bleary-eyed waking moments; of no time to cook and even less time to think about eating. And I’ll be spending the wee small hours, not at Side Street or some other favorite eatery, but in the dimmed light of the nursery rocking our latest family member to sleep.

Naturally, I just can’t wait.

Happy eating!

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