Maui Food and Dining

Eat Me: Cheeseburger in Paradise in Wailea

July 20, 2011, 9:40 PM HST
* Updated July 22, 2:50 PM
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By Kristin Hashimoto

Cheeseburger in Paradise logo, image courtesy of Cheeseburger in Paradise

At first glance, the kitschy interior, plastic and ceramic knick-knacks, and the faux grass skirts worn by wait staff seem oddly eye-catching. There’s just so much to be distracted by with simple superficialities, that the unknowing can possibly order their burger in paradise and not notice its less than paradise-like flavor.

It’s unfortunate that this burger place didn’t deliver on its nearly fail-safe food offering. Minds might echo with, “how can one mess up a burger?” Well, unfortunately, it can be done. The menu looks appealing. The prices are inexpensive for Wailea fare, with burgers priced at around the $10 mark. However, unless you are ordering the Kobe beef burger, fries do not come with the burgers. An order of a basket of fries will be around $5.

The “It’s All Good” burger is a bacon, mushroom cheeseburger with guacamole. Conceptually, the ingredients list sounds mouthwatering. The burgers came to the table after a bit of a delay. For a nearly empty restaurant, past the lunch rush, and with numerous wait staff, one might expect a little more haste, and less wait.

Once the burgers were at the table, the display of pineapple cole slaw, open-faced and moist burger with bacon slices draping off the top, was a sight to behold. However, eating the burger, bite after confused bite, became a chore.

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It’s funny when mind and tongue war with food impressions. Logically, this good-looking burger should taste yummy. Tongue says, “No, this burger is bland.” Mind continues to argue, and urge another bite. Tongue and tastebuds find no difference in flavor and instead begin to pick up the beefy overtones, lack of proper seasoning, unappealing textures, and rather forgettable flavor combinations.

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The bland swiss cheese, combined with a another layer of Colby jack cheese, lay melted on a burger with some strands of wilted, not caramelized onions, soggy mushrooms with no flavor, and a slightly sweet and over-soft sesame seed bun that comes apart like tissue while eating the burger.

Tabletop mustard and ketchup helped save the burger, but the ketchup ran out, and wait staff was inattentive to attempts to rectify this. Nearby tables with patrons, who were seated minutes after we arrived, waited for over half an hour for their burger orders. One table was told that some VIP guests came in and the kitchen was busy attending to their order. Another table was told by a separate person that the kitchen was running behind. Whatever the reason, there was simply no good excuse for such a restaurant fail. While a well-meaning wait-person tried to smooth the hunger pangs of irritated Californian vacationers with complimentary fries, or onion rings, the guests weren’t having the attempts at buying their favor. Least the French fries are good.

It really might have been a bad day and time to visit this particular establishment. Maybe the kitchen was really backed up, maybe some cooks didn’t show up for work, maybe line staff were being trained. Maybe, maybe, maybe. However, the flavor fail was also apparent on a separate trip to Lahaina’s Front Street location of Cheeseburger in Paradise, while trying their Kobe beef burger. It was dry, bland, and not worth the price, or the nausea after eating half of the burger.

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Like anything else, everyone has a unique palate of what pleases and what doesn’t. The happy hour menu looked appealing, so people might be tempted to try their discounted Mai-Tais and food menu. The nacho plate looked really good with piles of kalua pork, chips, cheese, guacamole and sour cream.

For more information call Cheeseburger in Paradise at the Shops at Wailea at 808-874-8990. Or visit, www.cheeseburgerland.com. Open daily for breakfast lunch and dinner.

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