Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Alohilani Resort Waikiki BeachRestaurant Insider
December 25, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: DI ANNE WANG AND LACIE TAGOMORI
ANNE LEE speaks with Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach executive chef ALEXANDRE PETARD
Alexandre Petard comes from a lineage of restaurateurs. At age 14, he began cooking in his father’s French restaurants, and his grandfather was also a chef. At 16, he enrolled in culinary school in France and upon graduation moved to England, where he continued honing his culinary skills. After working in restaurants in France, he moved to New York in 1996, working at highly acclaimed restaurants such as Jean-Georges, Lespinasse and Les Halles. He then went on to open tapas-style Latin fusion restaurant Ladino’s. Wanting to move to warmer climate, in 2016, Petard finally had the opportunity to move to Hawaii.
I learned more about his story and what’s in store while we dined on a few of his favorite items from Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach’s SWELL Restaurant and Pool Bar.
AL: SWELL is more than a pool bar. You have delicious entrées for lunch and dinner. Can you tell me more about the menu?
AP: We have a full menu and are continuously growing. Over the next few months, you will see more activations such as barbecue grilling and pizza stations.We want to make things from scratch using local ingredients, and keeping Asian influence and French classic foundation and techniques. We offer varying specials nightly that will change with what ingredients are available to us. Daily specials will be an appetizer or an entrée.
For Christmas Day, we will offer a SWELL Poolside Plate from 5 to 9 p.m. You can celebrate Christmas under the stars with a special plate that will include a lilikoi-glazed ham, Brussels sprouts and potato au gratin made with Gruyere cheese, honey mustard au jus and Black Forest cake ($45 per person).
AL: What did you prepare for us today?
AP: The Alohilani Mai Tai has BACARDÍ Gran Reserva light, Mahina dark rum, Pierre Ferrand dry Curacao, Disaronno amaretto, pineapple juice, guava and fresh lime. Our Frozen Blue Hawaiian is made with BACARDÍ Superior rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice. Our signature cocktails can be ordered by the glass ($17) or a carafe to share ($51).
To start, my personal favorite is the Ahi Nachos ($28). It’s big-eye tuna poke served with wonton chips that we fry in-house, dynamite and kabayaki sauce for a little bit of heat, furikake, avocado, edamame, cucumber and local-style kukui nut oil.
The salad is our Aloha Aina Vegan Bowl ($24). It’s an organic mix of Mari’s Garden greens, with Okinawan sweet potato, sea asparagus, watermelon, cucumber, roasted beet, sweet onion, avocado, edamame, Sensei Farm greens, kukui nut and ginger dressing.
I added a new item to the Earth to Cup Taste of The Islands happy hour menu: Bacon Wrapped Kauai Shrimp with Papaya Mustard ($19). This comes with Kauai shrimp, alaea red sea salt, Hawaiian chile Sriracha. Hawaiian chile peppers are fiery hot, and complement the sweet local shrimp and the Kahuku papaya mustard sauce.We have also added Pacific oysters during happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. daily (half-dozen for $12; dozen for $24; two dozen for $48). Starting Jan. 1, the happy hour price will be $1.50 an oyster — the best deal in town!
AL: What else is happening at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach for the holidays?
AP: We have Scuba Claus in the Oceanarium. If you stop by our 280,000-gallon saltwater tank, you may be lucky to see Scuba Claus and get a photo with him.
From now until Jan. 3, from 5 to 9 p.m., we have a Seas And Greetings lounge experience, where you can enjoy the Oceanarium with a seasonal seafood tower delight for two ($85). You can add a Champagne flight for $40 per person.
On Dec. 25-30, we have Alohilani Candy Cane Access from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for kids, and 5-9 p.m. for those 21 and older in our Candy Cane Lane pop-up speakeasy. Festive movies will play during the day for kids and families. At 5 p.m., Candy Cane Lane transforms into an adults-only speakeasy with specialty festive cocktails such as White Christmas Margarita or the Smoked Cinnamon Old Fashion.
On Dec. 31, starting at 8 p.m., we have our New Year’s Eve celebration at SWELL Rooftop.There will be multiple DJs, a dance floor, VIP tables, cocktails, Champagne, cabanas and more. Ring in the New Year with a DJ-led countdown projected on the famous Light Monument, and continue your evening with an after-party at Lobby Bar.