Remodeled lounge highlights visit to popular restaurant at the Grand Hyatt

What isn’t there to like about Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa?

There must be something. There must be something to point out that needs improving or changing, something that just isn’t quite right. Perhaps the food isn’t great. Or maybe the service was slow. Or the atmosphere was a bit gloomy and noisy.

But an evening that started in the recently renovated l0unge with a white swan and koi fish swimming in the lagoon just outside the window and ended with dinner at a picture-perfect table, there was just one conclusion: This was excellence. No complaints. Only praise.

Let’s explain why, starting with the service.

People here are friendly and fast. New customers are greeted like old friends. Hostesses, bussers, waiters all are courteous and professional. They don’t just take your order and disappear until your food is ready. The wait staff is engaging an personable. These folks make it clear they appreciate your business and are glad you’re joining them for an evening out. You won’t find frowns here.

The setting makes one feel like you can just sit back and relax. The tables and chairs are arranged to create a sense of privacy, even when Tidepools is filled with guests. You don’t feel like the people at the nearby table are practically joining you for dinner.

The remodeled lounge, with an outrigger hanging from the ceiling, is open and spacious and a great for for conversation and to simply admire the surrounding beauty, inside and outside. It’s much more than a place you wait for your dinner table to be ready. It’s a destination — a place to spend a few hours, if you want, with friends in a beautiful setting of gorgeous gardens and grounds and watch spectacular sunsets. And some of the items on the lounge menu are not on the dining room menu.

And for such a nice, upscale establishment, it maintains a relaxed, casual feel.

The lounge is the perfect place for one of the many specialty drinks (You can’t go wrong with any of them, but a favorite is Surfer Girl, made with Bacardi silver rum, peach liqueur, lime juice and honey syrup), a glass or bottle of of wine (chardonnay, pinot noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon are among the wide selection) or an appetizer (Shrimp Shiso Tempura, Ahi Hamachi Poke Duo and the Crab Chorizo Creamy Cheese Dip are to die for.)

The dining room is both open and cozy, the best of both. Many offer a look at the colorful koi fish in the lagoon. Add on the swaying palm trees and a light breeze that keep things cool, and you’ll be hooked.

And then, there’s the food.

Warning: Don’t fill up on the appetizers, which you easily could. Save room for dinner, with selections from land or sea.

The grilled New York steak was a perfect medium. The opah was moist and came as close to being melting-in-your mouth” special as a fish could. If you want both, create your own surf and turf for a few dollars more.

The generous 12-ounce cut of the certified angus slow-roasted prime rib (tender and juicy at medium rare) might be too much for one person to finish off.

Sea selections include Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, Grilled Ahi, Local Snapper and Butter Poached lobster.

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with any of them, but the Molten Chocolate Lava Cake, Kauai Coffee Creme Brulee and the Coconut Chiffon Mousse Cake are particularly good.

As for the prices, for appetizers, they’re in the $18 range. Dinners from the sea are in the $45 range, and $33 to $49 from the land. Desserts are $12 to $14.

A couple enjoying a nice night out should expect to spend more than $100. That might sound like a lot, but Tidepools, with outstanding food, drink, atmosphere and service, delivers an experience that some might say is priceless.

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