We recently tried these northwest Big Island restaurants and came away surprised. Bamboo is in the quaint town of Hawi, while Daniel Thiebault and Merriman’s are in Waimea (Kamuela).
1. Bamboo. We came here with perhaps the lowest expectations, and to our surprise, enjoyed the best food. While it is simple, in a bamboo coffee shop sort of way, the food was tasty, clean and unpretentious. We liked it very much. Their menu featured a lot of variety including Asian and standard offerings, and the service was excellent. Cost is reasonable. This is a keeper.
2. Daniel Thiebault. This was our second time here. We really enjoyed it the first time, repleat with Auntie Betty, the lovely hostess who changed her flamboyant eyeglasses twenty times during the meal. Betty owns some 50 pairs of glasses she ports in her travel bag. Unfortunately, Auntie Betty is gone. The good news is that she can still be seen around town, with her glasses and her Chihuahua in tow.
On this return visit, however, we were somewhat pleased and also disappointed. The food was okay, but seemed to lack the exceptional qualities that we thought exemplified Thiebault on our first visit. Service wasn’t as good as on the prior visit either, which really can really ruin any meal. We’ll have to give it another try though, as friends who live there continue to claim it as their favorite Big Island restaurant. Cost: moderate, with dinner entrees from $19 to $32.
3. Merriman’s. Here we had both the greatest expectations and the greatest disappointment. Both the food and the service were frankly mediocre. It reminded me very much of Roy’s. The fact that I knew the waitress and went with her recommendations didn’t even help the situation much. It felt like a somewhat overpriced chain restaurant with cookie-cutter, formula food. The very attractive location was quite busy and noisy, and we waited a long time for service. Since they are expanding and will be opening soon at Poipu’s Kukuiula on restaurant-starved Kauai, we had hoped for something better. We’ll give them one more try at the new location and will report back. Expensive, with dinner entrees from $24 to $45.