Upon entering the luau grounds, each guest was presented with a fresh flower lei, then offered their choice of what my wife refers to as “umbrella drinks”: Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiis, or similar, or beer, wine, or soft drinks.
Each table had two servers assigned to it, which resulted in excellent service throughout the evening.
I chose The Feast at Lele because of a number of factors, including its size – fewer than 200 guests – that guests were seated at tables according to the size of their party, and that food was served to your table instead of at a buffet.
The size of the group and the arrangement of the tables meant that no one had a bad seat. Every table had an excellent view of the stage. Seating arrangements meant that you could socialize with other diners as much or as little as you wanted, and we ended up having very pleasant conversations with couples seated near us.
|First course with kalua pig|
As each course was served, the mistress of ceremonies gave a bit of background on each of the groups represented. That narration was followed by a hula, dance, or other performance reflecting the origins of the various peoples.
The first full course reflected traditional Hawaiian fare: kalua pig roasted in an imu; pohole fern and hearts of palm salad; fresh island fish with mango sauce; and poi, a pasty substance made from pounded taro root.
|Second course: the foods of New Zealand|
The Feast at Lele offered wine or beer pairings with each course, and we chose the wine. Our first course was paired with a Pinot Noir.
|New Zealand dancers|
Third course items reflected the islands of Tahiti and included eiota, a salad of marinated fish similar to a ceviche; fafa, which is steamed chicken wrapped in taro leaves; and baked bay scallops, accompanied by a Chardonnay. Not being Chardonnay fans, we asked for a second glass of Sauvignon Blanc, which our server cheerfully provided.
|Tahitian third course|
Finally, dessert was served. This included star fruit, a caramel macadamia nut tart, a strawberry and a small bite of chocolate, accompanied by a glass of port.
|Fourth course: Samoan|
Having food brought to the table in courses encouraged guests to try a little bit of everything as opposed to going through a buffet line, where the tendency is to load up on those things you think you’ll enjoy while passing up other items that might seem a little odd or unfamiliar. That principle was highlighted when one of our servers told us the Feast uses about ½ a kalua pig per night, while the nearby Old Lahaina Luau goes through about six pigs per evening. The Old Lahaina Luau seats about 2-1/2 times as many guests as The Feast at Lele, but it uses literally 12 times as much pig.
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Photos by Carl Dombek
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