Restaurant Review - Star of Honolulu

By: Kevin McQuarrie
Oahu Island News

I was a bit skeptical about boarding the Star of Honolulu for a dinner cruise. I thought that these cruises were only set up for the throngs of tourists who crave a night on the water off of Waikiki.

As my companions and I arrived for the dinner cruise we were greeted on the pier at Aloha Tower Marketplace by a troupe of Hawaiian entertainers playing an array of hapa-haole favorites and dancing in Mylar Hula skirts and beautiful pants. This was a nice touch, however it did feel a little too Las Vegas for my taste. Once on board, we were greeted by a maitre’d who immediately whisked us forward to our private elevator taking us to the Super-Nova Deck. I was amazed at how much this deck reminded me of a very comfortable and well-appointed restaurant.

We were directed to the outdoor upper deck for a “champagne” reception with the Captain of the vessel. Champagne is in quotes because this extremely sweet concoction is actually sparkling cider. The Star’s liquor license doesn’t allow the serving of alcohol at the dock. Several canapés were passed and we mingled with the Captain and a few other guests who looked like they were just off an Oli Oli Trolley.

The ship sailed at exactly 5:30pm and we settled in for our dinner at sea. The dinner package we would be enjoying this night is the Star of Honolulu’s top of the line dinner and includes five super-premium cocktails. We decided to take advantage of this and relaxed before dinner with a drink, which was served by an army of white-gloved servers. The service was as polished and attentive as in any of Honolulu’s finest restaurants. This Captain runs a tight ship.

As our first course, sweet corn bisque, arrived, I was impressed by the quality of the china and attention to detail. The bisque was full of sweet Kahuku corn and was seasoned to perfection. Served hot and with a twist of puff pastry, it set the tone for what was an exceptional meal for any restaurant, let alone one floating off the shore of Honolulu.

As the Jazz combo began, we were served our next course, a salad of assorted Waimanalo greens. Personally, I’m tired of Waimanalo greens and miss a good crunchy salad, but this one was so artfully prepared with its colorful baby tomatoes, raspberry vinaigrette and a topping of a trio of Tobiko caviar, that I totally forgot about my boredom with the greens from the other side of the island.

The next course was a baked Maine lobster served sans shell in a delicious sauce Homard, with saffron potatoes and a scattering of little neck clams. This dish left me wanting more. I ordered the house Chardonnay to accompany it and found it to be quite an improvement over the aforementioned “Champagne”.

Three delicious sorbets served as an intermezzo before what the Chef Eric Omick calls the Chairman’s Reserve Filet Mignon arrived. Stuffed with herbed Boursin cheese, my filet arrived at a perfect medium rare. This was served with perfect Zurich potatoes and a Madeira truffle sauce, which was not shy of these expensive fungi. Perfectly turned baby Kula vegetables accompanied this dish and gave it an air of sophistication usually reserved for the finest of dining establishments. The house Cabernet went perfectly with the rich Madeira sauce.

A beautiful sunset began to paint the sky. Dessert came in the form of a Vanilla Raspberry Roulade, which looked more like a work of art than dessert. Most of the time dessert arrives looking this good, I find myself wondering if the flavor will live up to the presentation. Let me tell you that this one tasted BETTER than a work of art! The roulade was moist and delicious and full of raspberry flavor while the accompanying coconut macaroon was just crispy and chewy enough. The addition of a small waffle cone of raspberry sorbet was a stroke of pure genius.

            As a talented female vocalist started her set, we ordered a snifter of Remy Martin VSOP, which was included in the dinner package! This was delivered warm with a water back exactly as I had ordered it. We sipped the cognac and enjoyed the Jazz as all of the other passengers disembarked at the pier. As soon as the coast was clear, we reluctantly headed for dry land.