A little more than half way between Hilo and Kona, Hawaii is an upcountry town of Waimea. Chef Peter Merriman began his flagship restaurant, Merriman’s Waimea, over 20 years ago where locally sourced produce, meats, and seafood are only minutes away. From the exterior, it looks like a country store, but inside a tropical, fine dining journey awaits you.
Menus change with the trade winds and seasons. Here are some creations you might see on the menu.
Wine Flight du Fortnight is your opportunity to try four related but vastly different wines together. The flight totals 8 ounces of wine. On this visit, these wines were on the menu: Descendientes de J. Palacios “Villa de Corullon” (Bierzo, Spain) 2007, Elena Walch, Lagrein, D.O.C. (Alto Adige, Italy) 2008, Grant Burge Wines “Holy Trinity” (Barossa Valley, Australia) 2003, and Finca Sandoval, Manchuela (Manchuela, Spain) 2006.
Amuse bouche of edamame and pea puree is served with purple potato chips. The puree reminded me of guacamole with its green color and texture. But the flavor is more starchy than buttery. It is a stunning little palate of color. Rating: 4/5
Hirabara Greens topped with brown butter lilikoi dressing, Pepeekeo Peppercorn Brittle, Honopua beets, Nakano tomato and cucumber, and Big Island goat cheese. The ingredients have the perfect balance of flavors from sweet beets, brittle, and tomato; creamy and earthy goat cheese; and refresh and crispness of the cucumbers. It’s hues of color are also so beautiful! Rating: 5/5
Peter’s Original Caesar Salad is made with Hirabara Farms baby romaine, shaved parmesan, and croutons. The dressing is creamy but needs a bit more anchovy and garlic flavor. The lettuce is crisp and slightly sweet. Rating: 4/5
Hirabara Farm Earth Grown Lettuce Salad is topped with fennel, cucumber, radish, sweet onion, Waimea tomato, fresh squeezed lime and extra virgin olive oil. It is a simple salad with a lot of flavors. The lettuce varieties used have qualities of greenness, sweetness, and slight bitterness all their own. The lime and olive oil accentuate the flavors of each vegetable for an umami flavor. Rating: 5/5
Pan Roasted Mahi-Mahi is served atop Ninole heart of palm, Goo Farms peppers, bamboo-steamed sticky rice, and tamarind-lemongrass fumet. The mahi-mahi is perfectly roasted and it is soft and silky like butter. The heart of palm, peppers, and tamarind-lemongrass fumet give this dish an Asian flare. All of the juices that are left can be soaked up with the sticky rice with no drop to waste. Rating: 4.5/5
House Cured Pipikaula is sliced Kahua striploin sliced and served with cream corn, roasted eggplant, Nakano onion rings. The pipikaula is saltier than I am accustomed to. The meat was perfectly grilled, but had to be immediately paired with the cream corn to balance the flavor. The onion rings were the star of this dish with light, tempura-style batter with a juicy, sweet onion in the middle. Rating: 3/5
Macadamia Nut Crusted Ono is served with Hirabara Farms ginger sautéed broccolini, black forbidden rice, roasted Hamakua mushrooms, and miso-white wine truffle reduction. The macadamia nut crust adds a crisp texture on the outside and also helps seal the juices in the fish. The black forbidden rice has a nutty flavor which works well with the fish. The miso-white wine truffle reduction is luxurious! Use the rice to sop up the sauce. You don’t want to waste a drop! Rating: 5/5
Low Line Cattle Company Local Beef “Butcher Cut” is served with whipped potatoes, sautéed sweet corn, grilled Waimea asparagus, and red wine-roasted shallot sauce. The beef is so tender and juicy. Even though it resembles a “meat and potatoes” dish, it is much more than that. You can taste that everything is so fresh from the meat, the potatoes, and the vegetables. It’s amazing how the rich volcanic soil on the island makes everything so vibrant. Rating: 5/5
Hawaiian Hogs Berkshire Pork “En Vise” is a perfectly pan-roasted pork chop with pork “meatloaf” topped with roasted tomato served with stewed vegetables and polenta. The pork chop is meaty, tender, and juicy. The outside is perfectly caramelized from the pan. The meatloaf ball had an Italian flavor profile to it. The roasted tomato acts as the “marinara sauce”. Polenta is a perfect side dish as it helps clean the palate between bites for the uber pork experience. Rating: 4.5/5
Merriman’s Original Work Charred Ahi is seared on the outside – sashimi on the inside. The ahi is top notch. Definitely sashimi-grade as it is so soft and tender. The fish on its own has a sweetness to it and a dip in the shoyu makes it perfect. The black forbidden rice is okay as a side, but would be better with just plain sticky rice. Rating: 4.5/5
Waimea Strawberries served with Hanaoka Farms passion white chocolate sabayon and Original Hawaiian Chocolate Shortbread. These are the best strawberries I have ever had! They are so sweet and juicy. The only strawberry that I have had that even come close are grown in Oxnard, CA. The sabayon is creamy and tastes like a crème brulee without the ramekin. The shortbread cookies are light, but buttery in flavor. Rating: 5/5
“Original Hawaiian Chocolate” Purse served with red wine caramel and vanilla ice cream. If you are a chocoholic, this is the dessert for you. The presentation is presented like a wrapped gift of chocolate dreaminess. With sweet and sour wine caramel mimicking a raspberry coulis, it works well with the chocolate. The vanilla ice cream is creamy and acts like a cream anglais that balances with the chocolate and wine flavors. Rating: 5/5
Get your okole out of the hotel and follow the rainbow to Merriman’s Waimea!
Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars
For more information:
65-1227 Opelo Rd
Kamuela, HI 96743
Hours: Brunch – Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 1pm; Lunch – Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 1:30pm; Dinner – nightly from 5:30pm to 9:00pm