53 By the Sea Creates Lasting ImpressionFeatures Front of the House
July 28, 2013
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel
Enter into a world of refined elegance at 53 By The Sea, a five-star dining establishment set to captivate its guests in all regards. Located on Ahui Street, where the former John Dominis once stood, the restaurant resembles a grandiose European mansion accented by Mediterranean and local flair. Once the grand double doors open, patrons are transported into a luxurious oasis complete with an exquisite sweeping staircase, crystal chandelier and picturesque views of Waikiki and Diamond Head through ceiling-high windows.
According to assistant general manager J.R. Hoffman, great attention to detail has been a priority ever since the restaurant’s inception last September.
“The building’s architecture was inspired by Iolani Palace, Kawaihao Church, and Alexander and Baldwin Building,” he says. “Then, when you look at the railings and artwork on the main doors, you’ll notice naupaka engravings. These details help to create a beautiful first impression.
“We want our guests, both locals and tourists, to make lasting memories here, and the staircase offers many photo opportunities.”
After appreciating the beauty of the entrance, friendly hosts escort you to your appointed table in the private dining room, which comfortably seats 150 guests. There, you’ll peruse the menu of New American fare created by executive chef Thomas Ho, who previously served as chef de cuisine at Orchids at Halekulani Hotel.
“Thomas is such an artist, presentation is so important for him and he brings so much beauty to each and every dish,” Hoffman explains. “New American fare doesn’t only capture one type of cuisine, instead it breaks the mold and highlights a variety of cuisines. There’s a lot of focus on how a dish is put together — it’s very much artistic as it is tasteful.”
Ho incorporates a symphony of culinary styles, concepts and local ingredients into his culinary craftsmanship, with entrees such as 53’s Mushroom Chicken ($35) and the Fresh Catch ($36) taking the spotlight. In fact, 53’s Mushroom Chicken — featuring chicken breast and thigh, served with haricot vert, thyme polenta, oyster and cremini mushroom cream — was originally featured on the restaurant’s lunch menu, but because of popular demand it was quickly added to the dinner menu as well.
“We focus on team service, meaning we always have servers present to cater to every need. I think we’re the only restaurant in town that still includes white glove service,” Hoffman says, noting that live dinner and late-night music emanating from the Italian-made Fazioli piano always adds a classy touch to every dining experience.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, anytime is the perfect opportunity to pay a visit to this renowned restaurant; especially on weekends, as a dose of 53 By The Sea is all you need to relax and unwind from a hectic work week.
“Our guests enjoy coming here for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries,” Hoffman says. “We also always invite everyone to our T’s at 53 Bar before they’re seated to have a cocktail or a glass of champagne. A lot of patrons like to take advantage of our happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. or have an after-dinner drink from our liquor cart to cleanse their palate.
“From first impression to last, we want to offer the best.”
53 By the Sea
53 Ahui St., Honolulu
Lunch: Daily, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Daily, 5-10 p.m.
Happy Hour: Daily, 4-6:30 p.m.
T’s at 53 Bar: 4 p.m.-midnight (Sunday-Wednesday), 4 p.m.-2 a.m. (Thursday-Saturday)
Note: Reservations are recommended and complimentary valet parking is provided.