Restaurant Review
Critical and Editorial Writing

Ken Waters, Professor

Duke’s Malibu Reviewed by Stephanie Carlisi, Fall 1998


Don’t allow the mayhem of the construction at PCH and Las Flores Canyon to deter you this Sunday from slipping away on a two-hour Hawaiian vacation--Brunch at Duke’s in Malibu.

The restaurant takes on the feel of a cruise ship from the moment the guest steps through the front door. Surrounded by the tranquility of the Pacific Ocean, the hospitality and warmth of the Aloha-spirit-mentality are evident as he/she is greeted by a welcoming-committee of wahines. On a clear, sunny day, Catalina Island glistens in the distance, as a band of “Tu-Tus” sing and dance to the music of Hawaii. As they stroll through the restaurant, taking requests, singing happy birthday, and teaching excited children to hula dance, their native Aloha spirit becomes addictive and eventually guests are joining in and dancing in the aisles.

The buffet brunch travels down a north corridor of the restaurant and then wraps around the corner, continuing along the oceanfront window, which the Guinness Book of World Records says is the longest oceanfront window in the world. The brunch is moderately priced, at $14.95 for adults and $8.95 for children, and includes choices of a complete salad bar with freshly tossed Caesar salad, a waffle bar, a carving station, and an omelet bar, complimented by specialty dishes such as shrimp cerviche, eggs benedict, mahi-mahi, huli-huli chicken, seafood pasta, crepes, French toast, muffins, bagels, croissants, macaroons, cookies, pastries, and more. The entire display exemplifies quality, not only in food preparation, but also in presentation and service. A dash of spice, or a touch of coconut, is a unique reminder that the dishes have been blessed by the influence of Hawaiian culture.

Although all of the food is excellent, a wide variety of items ensure satisfaction for even the pickiest of eaters. The brunch is served with a choice of milk, coffee, tea, or juice, but for $2.00, a glass of champagne or a mimosa is an excellent choice, augmenting the mood and the atmosphere perfectly. Although the Sunday Brunch at Duke’s Malibu is a buffet, the service is outstanding, and the entire staff is readily available to serve the table and to keep the buffet-line clean and the food fresh.

This brunch definitely does not fit the stereotype of a standard buffet’s serve-yourself-attitude and less-than-fresh food. It is fun to dress the part at Duke’s Malibu, wearing a hula skirt, a lei, or an aloha shirt. However, many special occasions take place at this restaurant. Thus, guests feel comfortable in shorts, a sundress, a suit and tie, or a formal dress.

The upbeat atmosphere is enjoyable for any affair. In honor of Hawaiian father of surf, Duke Kahanamoku, the proprietors of T.S. Restaurants, Rob Tibau and Sandy Saxton, have succeeded admirably in bringing the passion and the paradise of the islands to Malibu. As part of their vision, T.S. Restaurants has vowed to become known as the “friendliest restaurant company by the year 2000.” After visiting Duke’s in Malibu, it is easy to see that they’re not far from the mark.