Island Lava Java Review (Kona, Hawaii)

Island Lava Java Bistro & Grill is situated right in the heart of the very tourist-centric Kona Village on the Big Island of Hawaii.

We dined at Island Lava Java for breakfast because of the reviews we had read and the fact that it’s situated right on the ocean. Unfortunately, this was a mistake.

There were some positives: Warm sunshine, a lovely view, and white table cloths enticed customers to dine at Island Lava Java.

Coffee was great: We ordered 100% Kona Coffee and they provided our table with an entire coffee carafe so we never had an empty cup.

We also ordered a cup of Freshly Squeezed Orange. It was good, but expensive for its size.

Some delicious coconut syrup was served with the waffle.

Island Style Waffle ($10.95) – Sliced bananas and macadamia nuts on their Belgian waffle. Served with applewood-smoked bacon and a cup of fresh fruit. This dish was a good portion size, however, the fruit was not fresh. It was clearly that Sysco (North American foodservice distribution company) type of “bucket fruit”. Bananas were overly ripe and they were evidently not cut fresh to order. Bacon, however, was indeed crispy. The waffle was very thick and had a cake-like texture. It was okay…until my husband unpleasantly bit into a huge clump of baking soda. Yuck.

Now on to my dish:

Image not found? Yes, we do not have a photo because the Island Eggs Benedict that I ordered NEVER CAME TO OUR TABLE! Our server either forgot to ring in my dish, or the kitchen didn’t get the ticket – not sure. Gary’s waffle arrived and the food runner who served it asked if we needed a extra plate. Confused by her question, we said no thank you, assuming that my meal would follow promptly. Our actual server came by and asked how everything was, and we had to tell her that I was still waiting for my meal. Not sure where the confusion was. She said “oh right, it’s coming right out”. Okay, I thought. My hubby was starving, so I told him to go ahead and start eating without me, because I believed the server when she said mine was “coming right out”.

My mistake for believing her. Five minutes past. Ten minutes past. Fifteen minutes past. Twenty minutes past. By this time Gary was already finished his meal, and we were late for a tour.  We had to get up and find our server to let her know we had to leave and that we could not wait any longer for my meal. We went to the counter to pay. She said she was “sorry” for the situation. Well that’s great, but she did NOTHING to attempt to rectify the fact that I came to this restaurant to eat breakfast with my husband but never got to actually EAT! How about offering a muffin to tide me over while I was waiting? Or notify a manager to step in? There’s lots she could have done, but she chose to try and sweep the situation under the rug and pretended like everything was fine. Other restaurants would have handled this situation more professionally. No consideration for the customer. Also, no consideration for the integrity of the restaurant. We would not recommend Island Lava Java to anyone; avoid this restaurant at all costs.

It’s always depressing having to write about an unfortunate restaurant experience. However, I believe that restaurant owners should be aware of what happens in their restaurant – both good and bad – because if it happened to us there’s a good chance it’s happened to other customers. Having both previously worked in restaurants for many years, we know what it’s like to be on the inside and the outside of the restaurant game.

The interesting thing about Island Lava Java is that many other customers also had disappointing experiences. Other food bloggers also had unsatisfactory meals: Over at Boots in the Oven, the dynamic Boots duo said “we ended up at Island Lava Java, a terrible plan with horrendous consequences”, followed by “The fact that 81% of Urbanspooners like it and it’s highly recommended by Frommer’s makes my eyes roll out of my head”.
Our feelings exactly.

Island Lava Java on Urbanspoon

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About Taya & Gary

Gary and Taya Ng are the Founders of Eating In Vancouver & the World. This husband and wife team search for the best dining experiences - including restaurant launches, new menu tastings and culinary events. Learn more about the couple here and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.

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