Sheraton Waikiki: Wine Flights + Farm Fare, New

Sheraton Waikiki: Wine Flights + Farm Fare, New

The Sheraton Waikiki has launched two new food and beverage initiatives, even as the whir of construction crews continue to wrap up the remodel of the hotel's expansive lobby. Positioned at sheer opposite ends of the resort, the hotel's new concept restaurant, Kai Market, will feature farm-to-plate dishes reminiscent of Hawaii's early plantation days, while Flights at Twist (at the 30th floor Hanohano room) is a wine bar within a restaurant concept.

Starting from the top, Flights is a simply executed offering that gives patrons the opportunity to imbibe in a trio of wines at once, each with a common denominator. It works like this: Guests choose from a list of five flights, which include "Go Green" (sustainable or organic wines), "ABC Whites" (Anything But Chardonnay), "International Flight To Europe" (self explanatory), "ABC Reds" (Anything But Cabernet) and "Thunder from Down Under" (big, bold and full bodied wines). Their flight arrives on a place card (made to look like a boarding ticket... get it? Flight...arrival. Work with us) with a brief description of each wine. The pours are a hefty 3 ounces—there's no half-baking here.

We were more than impressed with the unique groupings within the flights. One offered the bold Au Bon Climate Pinot Noir (a cult California wine from Santa Barbara County, made by friend of B on Hawaii, Jim Clendenen), next to a notable Australian Syrah and a silky Chianti Classico. Other flights mixed a white with two reds, linked by their low acidity and high sugar content. Clearly, someone who knows their wines made these travel arrangements.

The flights range from an extremely reasonable $11 to $17. Factor in the view of Waikiki from 30 floors up, and you're practically drinking for free. Think of it like this: You're not going to get any "higher" on the islands for under $20 (sorry, can't resist the altitude entendre).

To pair with these flights, Chef Ryan Loo has created a simple yet tasteful tapas menu, which includes numerous ahi, beef and elegantly arranged vegetable plates.

Downstairs, adjacent to the soon-to-open second pool (still under construction) and facing Waikiki Beach, Kai Market is an expansive dining room that will serve breakfast and dinner in a buffet-style atmosphere. But this isn't your Vegas-style buffet (read: no sneeze-guards and emerald green carpeting splattered with cocktail sauce). The decor inside Kai is minimalist chic, with a color palate reminiscent of mid-century modern earth tones, very tastefully executed. While the room packs in a whopping number of tables, it feels slightly intimate in design; it was very well planned out.

As will be the fare. Sheraton's top "thinkers" one-upped the farm-to-plate "thing" that every restaurant is banking on, by offering it in plentiful, serve yourself helpings with a clean aesthetic. Chef Darren Demaya has carefully crafted dishes to not appear haphazardly tossed together, as much as they look carefully constructed (even the salads, composed of local greens, don't look as much "tossed" as they do "arranged"). Close to 90% of the produce and fish served at Kai will hail from O`ahu, or neighbor islands. The restaurant also features a "living wall"—a vertical structure with live, growing herbs used in cooking.

Invariably, the hotel is hoping this concept might entice local residents to make the jaunt to Waikiki for dinner. Knowing that their neighbor may have grown the tomatoes or cilantro used in certain dishes is a heck of a start.

The restaurant will feature a special "Plantation Nights at Kai Market" item each night, which will be constantly changing. These dishes will hearken back to the days of early Hawai'i, when the plantation workers would gather in the evenings for elaborate feasts made from the ingredients of various cuisines (this is a concept we have seen achieve quiet success at Maui's Ko Restaurant, in the Fairmont Kea Lani). Dishes to appear in this special presentation will include "Grandma's" soy sake braised beef shortribs, "Auntie's" kim chee tako poke and more. The stress here is old family recipes.

To kick off the concept, the restaurant is featuring an ongoing contest that asks local patrons to submit their favorite family recipe, along with a short paragraph describing how it was passed down through the generations. Grand prize winners will receive a dinner for the whole family (up to 10 people) plus a weekend stay in the Sheraton's Presidential Suite (it's gorgeous—and can nearly accommodate as many family members).

Locals looking to submit to the contest should send recipe entries to: Laurie Kaeo at Laurie.kaeo@sheraton.com or mail to her attention at the hotel. Deadline is September 20, 2009.

Kai Market is open for breakfast (6 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and costs $26 per adult, $13 per child (kids under 12 eat free).
Dinner (5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) is $49 per adult, $26 per child, again, kids under 12 eat free.

Flight at Twist is open daily from 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; there is a limited offer of 25% off during the soft opening period.

Both venues offer free self-parking validation with purchase.

Kai Market is featuring a contest that asks local patrons to submit their favorite family recipe, along with a short paragraph describing how it was passed down through the generations. Grand prize winners will receive a dinner for the whole family plus a weekend stay in the Sheraton's Presidential Suite.