Dinner With Dan: Cafe Portofino

Daniel Davis

“Café Portofino”

Kauai, Hawaii

Ah, how exciting, our last issue, and most of us will be traveling for Christmas break, or at least a great deal of us.

Who doesn’t like to get away for the holidays and experience the beautiful weather of a Florida, California, or even, my favorite, Hawaii?

On my travels to this little island, I asked the locals about the best place to eat, and was able to discover after much investigation.

Arguably the best restaurant on the island, “Café Portofino” is the quintessential, upscale seafood eatery.

Fresh fish are imported daily, creating an immaculate and splendid diversity of “under-water” choices. Oysters, crab, fish, and lobster are only some of the top notch choices one may experience when dining here.

Outside, a pianist delicately strokes the white ivories of his instrument as customers enjoy their meals indoors and outdoors. The patio can provide a swift summer breeze while the inside accommodates those in need of a cooler temperature while dining.

The interior is comprised of a dim dining area (smoke-free) with very spacious seating to disallow neighboring banter that might disrupt your meal.

The ambience is very calming and provides for a “light” and easy-flowing mood for its customers.

A menu filled with multifarious seafood, “Café Portofino” offers some of the freshest oysters, uniquely presented platters (such as a grouper and swordfish concoction), and exquisite and scrumptious items (Filet Mignon Lobster [$35]).

The crab bisque ($9) is a must-have. The tasty, creamy blended soup is unrivaled and nonpareil. Several intriguing salads are featured including the Calamari Salad ($11) while the creative chefs have added some exciting twists to the banal and mandatory Caesar Salad ($8).

Other eye-capturing appetizers include Calamari ($9) [made like a tempura instead of deep fried like every other establishment I have ever tasted-another, must-have), Shrimp Cocktail ($11) [made to perfection], and the irresistible array of oysters ($2 per).

The assortment of oysters are served with garlic, freshly-cut lemon, and fabulous cocktail sauce, on ice, and consist of: Maine Bagadeuce (smaller, extremely salty), Alaskan (very smooth and creamy texture, bigger), King Edward Long Island (salty, moderate-sized) and Connecticut Blue Point (my favorite, medium in size, salty).

In regards to entrées, seafood floods the options, with few meats, chickens and pastas offered.

I would recommend tasting the Texas Soft Shell Crab ($28) once in your life; how often do you get to devour the entirety of a shelled, ocean-dwelling creature?

A Scallop entrée ($22) seemed utterly boring, while I could not help but notice several grouper, swordfish and tuna dinners. However, what better food to first experience at Crab & Fin than the Chimichanga (Shrimp) [$14] the dish made famous “Meet the Fockers.”

This dish is dressed with lettuce, guacamole and tomato, and the actual Chimichanga is comprised of soft tortilla, shrimps, and a blend of melted cheeses.

Yes, this was absolutely stellar. Its taste made me savor every bite, yearning to stretch out my stomach in order to devour several more Chimichangas. Now I realize what made Dustin Hoffman’s character crave this alluring, pseudo-Mexican burrito.

During my experience, the service was lacking attentiveness and reliability.

On the other hand, the food was delivered at an excellent pace considering the high demand during dinner time.

Unfortunately, I did not explore the dessert menu, and I apologize.

So if you find yourself visiting Hawaii, preferably on the island of Kauai, expect one of the tastiest seafood adventures of your lifetime.