Duke’s is not a foodie restaurant, not one that you’d go out of your way for. Instead it’s a touristy one you go to for convenience — if you’re staying on the beach at the Kauai Marriott or going there for nighttime entertainment.
You know those places: a fabulous view, two levels of seating in and out, a hand-held buzzer that goes off when your table is ready, watered down mai tai’s ($9) that are more show than alcohol and — of course — a big salad bar that’s free with your entree ($18.95 for Huli Huli Chicken to $32.95 for filet peppersteak) or $14.95 sans one. Duke’s does have chilled plates for the salad, and offers freshly made Caesar, plain lettuce, potato salad, cole slaw and sundry other salad bar classics plus some fresh fruit and sliced pineapple. After all this is Hawaii.
I ordered the fresh opah (Hawaiian moonfish) with the Firecracker Roasted preparation that came with an avocado, tomato, black bean and cilantro relish and a choice of garlic mashed potatoes, plain rice or basmati rice. I chose the latter.
Our extra-friendly, helpful waitress Claudia, warned that the firecracker option was very very hot. “Can you handle that?”
Duke’s sprinkles cumin and cayenne and mayonnaise on the fish before cooking. The opah was tender, moist and perfectly cooked. It’s what I’d recommend if you were there to attend the new Kalapaki Komedy Klub at the Cafe Portofino, the hotel’s nighttime entertainment or just the spectacular view.
Duke’s Kauai Restaurant & Barefoot Bar
3610 Rice Street
Lihue, HI 96766