CASUAL BRUNCH IN A VINTAGE SETTING

Gaylord’s restaurant is located in the historic Kilohana Plantation Estate, a 104-acre property that includes an agricultural park, historic railway, restaurant, shops, and the popular Luau Kalamaku. It is also home to Koloa Rum Company.

Gaylord's
Kilohana Plantation Estate

Kilohana is the former home of Gaylord and Ethel Wilcox. Gaylord made his fortune in the sugar industry and was the head of operations for Grove Farm Plantations. The 16,000 square foot home was built somewhere in the 1930s and was designed by a New Zealand architect by the name of Mark Potter. The house itself is home to many small shops and the restaurant and bar. It’s fun to see the art deco architecture and details. Outside each room are little plaques indicating what the room used to be: master bedroom, guest bedroom, etc. It’s fun to imagine what it might have looked like back when it was being used as just a home!

Gaylord's
The courtyard

Gaylord’s restaurant is outdoors and open air. The seating surrounds a small courtyard that is nicely manicured, and brunch on Sunday includes live local music that sets a calming atmosphere. Besides brunch on Sunday, you can also enjoy lunch and dinner throughout the week.

Gaylord's
Seating area around the courtyard

I appreciate a brunch that doesn’t have frills. Sometimes, those fancy brunches can get too caught up in serving fancy things that they forget that some people might just want good old bacon and eggs. Gaylord’s buffet has your basic lineup, and that’s not a bad thing.

Gaylord's
Some breakfast selections

All the food is located in one room, which is great because honestly, I hate it when there’s food all over the creation. I don’t need to go on a five-year expedition to find some eggs. And the setup is logical: hot entrees in the middle flanked on the sides by pastries and desserts, fixings for your waffles, and lighter fare like salads.

Gaylord's
All the food

There is a decent selection of hot entrees which include a variety of breakfast and lunch items. You can get the basics, like bacon and eggs, sausage, and fried rice. Lunch offerings included chicken katsu, bouf bourguignon, and fish, among other things.

Gaylord's
Hot entrees
Gaylord's
Some lunch selections

And don’t forget the pastries and desserts! There are little tarts, croissants, breads, cookies, and other yummy sweets that also include local favorites such as almond cookies, manju, and malasadas.

Gaylord's
Pastries and desserts
Gaylord's
Some dessert selections

What is a buffet without prime rib and an omelet station? Gaylord’s provides both of these things.

Gaylord's
Prime rib and omelet stations

Let’s talk about the good. If you’re looking for a casual but pretty setting to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary or just to do something nice on a Sunday with the family (or without), this is a very nice brunch to do. It’s casual and no-frills, and it’s good for large and small parties. There is a lot of variety with the food, things that will appeal to both locals and tourists. The layout is comprehensive, the seating is plentiful and spacious, and the price isn’t too extravagant at $38.95.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you aren’t familiar with everything in the chafing dishes, some entrees are a guessing game because they aren’t all labeled. The labels have come off some of the chafing dishes, which appear to be pretty old. For example, I didn’t know I got bouf bourguignon until I tasted it. Another issue I have is that some of the foods didn’t fare well in the chafing dishes, like the chicken katsu. It was all soggy! The décor in the food area is also kind of tacky, with touristy aloha print table skirts.

But those niggles aren’t at all a deal-breaker. I’ve been to this buffet many times and I’ve always had a pleasant experience. It’s also nice to be able to go to a buffet until 2:00 p.m. when most buffets on the island end around 12:00 p.m. Gaylord’s also steps up their buffets for holidays such as Mother’s Day and Easter. They expand their serving area to the dining room and the bar, and they offer items made-to-order off a menu, included in the buffet price. I’d say if you’re really curious about the buffet at Gaylord’s, go on one of those holidays. But be sure to make a reservation, because it is very popular!

Although there are cheaper buffets to go to, I think the buffet at Gaylord’s at Kilohana Plantation is a good middle-of-the-road option. There are also things to do on the grounds, like the train ride, the stores, and the pottery shop. You could easily spend a few hours after brunch on the grounds and have a really pleasant time! Check it out next time you have a special occasion, or just feel like a hearty brunch.

Gaylord’s at Kilohana Plantation
3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy
Lihue, HI 96766
Ph: 808-245-9593
www.gaylordsatkilohana.com