CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Cheri "Ms. Aloha" Mayoga serves a tray of Royal Pine drinks at Atlantis Seafood & Steak restaurant in Waikiki. The tropical drinks are $10.95 apiece.
Average Atlantis appeals to visitors
After writing a travel piece on Vancouver, Canada, recently, I heard from a Vancouverite who questioned my dining choices, which to him seemed to favor "the big guys" rather than places like his favorite burger joint.
Atlantis Seafood & Steak
2284 Kalakaua Ave. Suite 201 / 922-6868
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 5 to 10 p.m. daily
Cost: $25 to $30 for lunch for two; $45 to $70 for dinner, without drinks
I responded politely, and he followed up by rereading the story more carefully, noticing that I did indeed patronize restaurants big and small, luxe and casual, classic and trendy, which he conceded was no easy feat.
It's a lot of work, this business of eating and familiarizing oneself with others' experience of food. Typical travelers might visit a couple of restaurants they'd read about before arriving in a city, but due to time and logistical constraints, and foot cramps, seem generally obliged to pop into the nearest restaurant for convenience's sake.
People put up with a lot of things on the road that they wouldn't back home. I wouldn't, for instance, drop $900 on two back-to-back chef's table dinners at home, as I did at Lumière and West.
A person's mentality changes when on vacation. Less inhibition coupled with a desire to maximize hedonistic pleasures over a couple of weeks leads to the kind of spontaneity that causes overspending and overindulgence.
All of this is good for business at Atlantis Seafood & Steak, which by local standards might be considered average but for visitors offers the kind of all-American fare that they're accustomed to, with enough exotic appeal to their adventurous natures. It helps that the menu opens to a colorful cocktail menu, including the $10.95 Royal Pine, a rum punch served in a hollowed pineapple, with crown. Just the sight of four pineapples passing by on a cocktail tray spurs orders for more drinks among the tourist paparazzi, and pretty soon they're too happy to care much about what they're eating.
THE LARGE restaurant seats more than 300 in a space that was formerly home to Consolidated Waikiki 3 Theatre. In case you've forgotten this piece of Honolulu history, look for Atlantis upstairs, between the Waikiki Business Plaza and Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel. Validated parking is blocks away in the Hyatt Regency lot.
If you do somehow find yourself in Waikiki and have about $25 to drop, it's best to play it safe by ordering shrimp scampi ($19.95) or steak and scampi combo ($24.95) by evening. During the day there are tacos and burgers ($8.95 to $10.95). To explore further would be to invite disappointment.
An appetizer of Ahi Torpedos ($14.95) is a tuna roulade filled with crab and avocado, wrapped with nori and deep-fried. Although it was not slow to arrive, it was already cold and spongy when we received it, causing me to wonder how far in advance it was made.
Upon entering we received a coupon for a free lobster spring roll ($7.95), but could see why it would be free, as the lobster seemed nonexistent.
A seafood laulau ($21.95) was very tasty, thanks to luau that a home-grown waiter described as spinach. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough luau to keep the scallops, shrimp and mahi moist. I gave up chewing the mahi jerky after a while.
I miss the Waikiki 3.