DEC 12 2012: Islands Restaurant food review

Originally published on El Estoque. Note: please visit source to read interactive text over the photos.

Our rating: B

Islands Restaurant may offer your typical fast-food fare, but it stands out from the average burger and fries stop. The Cali-meets-Hawaii franchise, located off of Stevens Creek Boulevard, is a distinctive joint that blends tropical themes with all-American cuisine. A hugely popular chain in Northern California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii, Islands Restaurant captures the feel of an authentic beach-front diner, but tries too hard to mimic upscale restaurants with its costly menu. During its grand opening on Dec. 11, the restaurant sold appetizers, burgers with sides, fruit smoothies, and specialty tacos.

Sliders ($8.89)

“Bottomless” Fries (included with any burger purchase) and Onion Rings ($6.99)

No-Blame Grilled Veggie Tacos ($8.69)

Point Break Burger ($10.85)

Mango Strawberry Smoothie ($4.55) and Strawberry Shake ($3.99)

Kona Pie ($6.15) and Fudge Brownie ($2.59)

Island’s new Cupertino manager, Steve Imai, was born in the Bay Area and is excited about the grand opening of a new branch in a chain he has been involved with for a long time.

“We want to serve excellent food and create experiences that bring guests back,” he said. “It’s the winning formula: great food and great service.”

The gourmet burgers were indeed excellent, but may not be worth the price given their marginal improvement on the average fast-food burger. The waiters were engaging and friendly, often asking customers about their in-house tropical experiences thus far. Yet an amateur status was reflected in the way they failed to fill empty water cups, or even remember to bring dishes and utensils for desserts after clearing the tables.

Islands has gotten off to a slightly rocky start in our books, although it’s clearly a hit with the customers. Our main criticism is that despite being heavily inspired by surf culture, the food is standard Cal-Mex, with an emphasis on red meats rather than fish. The restaurant is as metaphorically expensive as a beach-side resort, and although the experience was pleasant, prices need to be lowered before we would come back.

Contributors: Anjali Bhat, Yimeng Han, Margaret Lin, Yashashree Pisolkar, Varsha Venkat, and Angela Wang

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