Aloha, Flamingo; Dinner Deals

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - August 08, 2007
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George Gomes, executive corporate chef at Aaron’s and Sarento’s
George Gomes, executive corporate chef at Aaron’s and Sarento’s

I’m starting to think that this column may turn into a eulogy for some of our town’s oldest restaurants, but I’m not prepared to ignore the fact that we are in the midst of some sad times for family-style eateries. Last Sunday, Flamingo restaurant in Kaneohe closed after 20 years. The owner, Sandy, is my neighbor, so this one has a personal touch because I can see up close how the continual struggle local restaurants face affects local families. There were 50 employees who lost their jobs last Sunday. That’s 50 people who’ve spent almost a lifetime in an industry, and 50 families now with changed circumstances. Hopefully, all of the employees will find other work - but there’s one less restaurant offering true island hospitality and truly local spirit.

On a happier note, August is traditionally a slow month in the restaurant business, so it’s a great time to look for restaurant specials. Some of the fine dining deals available right now are almost too good to miss. Friends of ours went to Aaron’s the other evening to take advantage of the $29 three-course early-dining special. You can choose from a wide range of entrees that are served later in the evening at a much higher cost, and you get the benefit of the amazing service, friendly staff and superb food put out by executive chef George Gomes and his team. There’s a similar special offered at sister restaurant Sarento’s - at the top of the Ilikai Hotel. Dine before 6 p.m. and a three-course dinner, featuring Mediterranean-style dishes and a great view, is just $29.

One of the most unbelievable deals of the month is happening over at Shore Bird, where there’s a whopping 50 percent off the entire food bill. Shore Bird offers a unique approach to dining. The restaurant, located within the Outrigger Reef Waikiki, has a super-sized grill where guests cook their own food. Waiters offer suggestions on cooking times and seasonings, and there’s a chef on hand to help if you need a little guidance. With the special offer (after 8 p.m. on weekdays - and during breakfast) an 8-ounce sirloin, for example, with all-you-can-eat salad bar works out at about $10! Can you beat that?

If you can, grab one of the tables right on the beach. The view is outstanding - and it’s really hard to believe you can eat in the heart of Waikiki for under $30 for two. There’s free valet parking too.

Chart House is the definitive bar/restaurant for me. I recommend it dozens of times a week to people asking for a “Hawaii” experience. It’s offering a twofor-one special right now on early bird dining (you have to place orders by 5:30 p.m.), and the offer runs Sunday through Wednesday. The menu offers fresh island fish, seafood and steaks, and while there are a few dishes not available during the special, most of the menu is included. It’s a great way to experience waterside dining in an exceptional atmosphere.

Oh, and the other thing about these great restaurants? They’re all locally owned and operated.

Happy eating!

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