Chef Peter Merriman is a distinguished restaurateur and culinary pioneer as one of the original founding chefs of HRC–Hawaii Regional Cuisine–a visionary group dedicated to promoting the cuisine of Hawaii and its local agriculture. He’s been serving handcrafted food, directly sourced from local farmers and ranchers, since 1988 and currently operates five restaurants on the Hawaiian Islands of Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.
Famously called “The Pied Piper of Hawaii Regional Cuisine”, Merriman’s restaurants are considered to be the first and greatest Hawaii practitioners of the “Locavore” movement. Not only do Merriman’s restaurants use 90% local product in his dishes, a standard unsurpassed within the Hawaii culinary world, but many of the growers also farm organically. Additionally, Chef Merriman is always eagerly pursuing any improvements that he can make to better the impact that Merriman’s has on the `Aina [land that feeds].
Chef Merriman opened Merriman’s Market Café, located in the Waikoloa King’s Shops on Hawaii Island, in November 2003. His culinary innovation remains the predominant creative force at the café as well, but the menu is rooted in Mediterranean flavors in a Tapas style, ranging from Hummus with Warm Pita to the Tagine Roasted Fresh Island Catch.
We stopped in for lunch one afternoon during our trip to the Big Island and enjoyed an all around great experience. We perused the menu and noticed plenty of alcoholic and virgin beverages were offered on the casual restaurant’s drink list, including Lava Flow ($8.95) and Blue Hawaiian ($9.95) cocktails, Fountain Drinks ($2.75) – Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, and Barq’s Root Beer. Alternatively you could try a glass of their Freshly Brewed Iced Tea for $2.95.
We started with Garlic Truffle Fries ($5.95) – Golden French fries topped with parmesan cheese, garlic and truffle, and served with Market Café’s fresh, house-made ketchup and white wine mustard seed aioli. As you know, I’m a fiend for anything with truffle on it, and these fries were sublime and exploded with truffle flavour!
It was a really hot day so we both wanted meals that weren’t too heavy. I chose the Basil Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad ($14.95) – Perfectly cooked chicken breast on a bed of romaine lettuce leaves and topped with local tomatoes, crispy bacon, blue cheese, hard boiled egg, Kalamata olives, sliced cucumber. Served with creamy basil salad dressing on the side and soft bread sticks. I opted for a saltier alternative of feta cheese in lieu of the blue on this superbly fresh salad.
Fresh Island Fish Taco ($13.95) – Fresh grilled mahi-mahi with shredded Waimea cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado tomatillo cream sauce served with organic Big Island greens. This excellent dish is definitely recommend to those seeking a light and fresh lunch. Overall, Merriman’s Market Café offers exceptional service in a casual environment and serves tasty food using fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant is a recommended stop if you’re in the Waikoloa area of the Big Island of Hawaii!