Rum Fizzle: The Sheraton Waikiki’s RumFire

This weekend, I spent some time in Waikiki and one of the highlights of the trip was supposed to have been dinner at RUMFIRE at the Sheraton Waikiki. Prior to opening, RumFire was touted as the newest and most exciting place for delicious food in a long time. They stole the Executive Sous Chef Colin Hazama from the Kahala Hotel and promised sizzling & spicy cuisine amidst a casual fire-inspired environment. I am not sure what I expected of the menu – the name would seem to indicate a mix of fire-grilled fare and spicy hot dishes, and they did have some of that. But I was looking for something, somewhat more comforting, like a good piece of meat, sipping a rum drink in front of the warm glow of a fire. Maybe I am just an old foodie-duddy.

What I found was disappointing. The main disappointment was the service. Once seated, around 9pm, I sat for over a half hour before being even provided water or asked if I wanted a drink. And that was only after I got up walked inside the restaurant and flagged down a waiter for another section. Also, it was a Saturday and the place was LOUD. Very Loud, DJ -Techno Music Loud. RumFire is more of a trendy watering hole (albeit with pretty good food), than a great restaurant. There were other poor aspects of the service, which I wont go into, but trust me — there are still quite a few kinks to be worked out in the service and management.

The menu is rather small and uninspired, save a few dishes – like the Miso-Sake Butterfish. I ordered this dish and was suprised when it came (another very long half hour later) because it was rather small and had no accompaniments. I suppose it was a little larger than an appetizer-sized portion, but stingy for a $24 entree. And it was not described well on the menu, as the otherwise deliciously prepared fish was totally covered in raw onions – something I would definitely have had them omit, had I known from the menu that they would be there. The onions completely overpowered and ruined the taste of the fish.

I would have liked to see a better selection of grilled meats on the menu, and perhaps some rum-inspired recipes. A “Hot Diggety” Hot Dog is one on the other menu items, if that tells you anything. And being a hotel, they actually have a childrens’ menu, but it is definitely not a place for kids.
On the other hand, there was nothing stingy about the drinks. Only one of the rum drinks is enough to knock most people out for the night! Which is good, because they too are quite expensive. I had a Rumrunner and would highly recommend it to anyone. The bar apparently has a famous Rum Tower, as well. And the setting is superb – oceanfront on Waikiki and many tables with nice views, during the day. At night, the flames come out. It was a cold night when I was there, so I have to wonder what it will be like in the warmer months, when misters and ceiling fans may be more appropriate. If you do sit outside, just be sure not to sit downwind of the fire pits or torches, or you may get smoked out, like I did.

This bar reminds me of a few in San Francisco, but the theme would work much better there, in the cool foggy weather. But RumFire would never last in SF as a restaurant, because neither the food, nor service is great. RumFire in Waikiki will have to depend mostly on tourists and hipsters that want to enjoy good strong drinks with lots of pretty people. Oh, and you won’t starve, if you are hungry and want to pay the price. Personally, I think the location is just perfect for drinks and appetizers at sunset, before the young and hip crowd arrives and the place turns into more of a night club than a restuarant.

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