Mediterranean Gourmet: An Oasis in the Foodie Desert of Kaua'i

Mediterranean Gourmet: An Oasis in the Foodie Desert of Kaua'i

The island of Kaua’i is wonderful for a number of reasons: It’s verdant mountains teem with waterfalls after every downpour, the rugged coastline laden with adventurous hikers, kayakers and the like… the list goes on. However it has never been confused for, nor competed with other islands with far more diverse culinary options. And while Hawaii’s most lush island may be home to more than one sub-par $17 lunch plate, there’s hope on the horizon.

Five twisty miles above the town of Hanalei, tucked between the rear parking lot of a condominium-style hotel and the lapping shoreline, is Mediterranean Gourmet. Like a beacon of light (not unlike the Kilauea lighthouse), the restaurant offers an incredibly diverse selection of Greek, Italian, Spanish and Moroccan-inspired dishes that makes use of fresh island produce and fish. The vibe is extremely comfortable and breezy, with the nook-and-cranny dining room open to the sea, décor tasteful and service—hold on to your boardshorts for this one—very well executed.

The genius behind this venture is the Beirut-born Imad Beydoun, who, with his wife Yarrow, moved to Kaua’i in order to be near family. Imad operated a catering business in Monterey, California, for 16 years prior to the move. Upon arriving in the islands, he was surprised at the lack of diversity in dining options on Kaua’i, and made it his mission to create the ideal hang out for both his family, and the extended family that would become the loyal clientele of Mediterranean Gourmet.

On a recent visit, we snacked on plump, island-harvested shrimp served over Big Island mushroom risotto; crisp pita wedges served with flavor-packed babaganush and tabouleh; and succulent rack of lamb with Moroccan spices and cous cous. Dishes arrived promptly and were very well-crafted. The lamb was cooked to perfection, with all accoutrement complementing the main character. The shrimp melded with the creamy yet earthy risotto, and was very generous in proportion as well.

The size of the restaurant makes it the perfect locale for family weddings, which the Beydouns happily cater to on a weekly basis. The setting—directly on the rugged North Shore of Kaua’I, just passed Hanalei—offers a really unique opportunity for those looking to wed in a relaxed setting. Mediterranean Gourmet features belly dancing and live, classical guitarists on several nights per week (call ahead to verify, as schedules change frequently).

Finally, an inside source tells us that the eatery is a fave of Kaua’i’s resident face man—Pierce Brosnan—who saddles up to the bar for a “shaken, not stirred” at least once a week.

Call 808-826-9875 or head to 5-7130 Kuhio Highway, Haena, to visit Mediterranean Gourmet.

Mediterranean Gourmet features belly dancing and live, classical guitarists on several nights per week.

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