Nestled in The Shops at Kukui'ula, Table at Poipu showcases Chef John-Paul Gordon’s take on Hawaiian fine dining. Since opening in the summer, Chef Gordon has served up some of his favorite recipes, which he’s developed over many years. In fact, his mantra is “quality ingredients served simply,” and there’s no better way to describe the innovative dishes served at Table.
Chef Gordon has spent the last 23 years in the culinary arts working on the North Shore of Kauai, most recently as the Executive Chef of Kilauea Bistro. And he’s brought his experience and unique perspective to this fine dining experience. However, there are some issues at the restaurant that could come down to growing pains.
With no wine list or any alcohol on the menu, BYOB is in full effect, letting you play your own sommelier for the night. And while that can be a good thing for some and an average dining experience for others, there are other issues. The menu has fine dining prices, but the ambiance is lacking. All that’s to say that this restaurant might still be finding its feet and definitely has the foundations to be one of the best restaurants on the island a year or so from now. That’s because the meals are complex, indulgent, and most of all, memorable.
Fresh ingredients sourced from local farmers and fishermen are thoughtfully showcased. Bacon-wrapped scallops are served in a balsamic reduction for a sophisticated flair. Meanwhile, the Kauai prawn saffron risotto is luxuriously topped with crunchy fried leeks and velvety slivers of goat cheese. Although pork chops aren't something you’d typically see on a fine dining menu, here, Chef Gordon ensures there’s never any dry meat plated up. Pineapple whiskey is delicately cooked into the bone-in chop, which comes with creamy mashed potatoes.
All the usual suspects are here, as well: 14 oz spiced ribeye, freshly caught fish, and grilled artichokes. But it’s items like the seafood paella (a hefty medley complete with prawns, mussels, fish, and an creamy tomato broth) and chicken marsala that are exciting albeit unusual offerings on a Hawaiin menu. It’s here that Chef Gordon flexes his experience and innovative palate. There are also nods to Middle-Eastern cuisine, with Israeli chicken skewers and fluffy flatbreads, as well as Italian sensibilities with mushroom risotto goat cheese croquettes that arrive with white truffle aioli.
Desserts are sophisticated in taste, even if they aren’t presented the way you might expect in an upscale restaurant. But it’s hard to complain when digging into a mint chocolate chip ice cream pie (complete with Oreo crust) or a Haupia pudding, a traditional coconut milk-based dessert often found at luaus.
If there's one thing about Table at Poipu that everyone agrees on, it's that the service is outstanding. Attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable, every question about the menu is promptly answered, and witty banter is always guaranteed.
Right now, Table at Poipu is a bit of a work in progress. But there’s no telling what can be achieved in the very near future, once Chef Gordon and his team iron out the kinks.