On Oct. 7, I had an opportunity to tour the Arizona-based restaurant chain’s first Northwest location. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and, more importantly, the presentation of every entrée that was served by general manager Michael Torres and executive chef Russell Meahl. Kona specializes in upscale American and Asian fusion cuisine, sushi, fine cocktails, and a killer happy hour food and beverage list.
When you walk in, you can make a right into a spacious bar area with high- and low-top tables, a sushi bar and windows that open up to the Village’s center terrace. If you enter and take a left, dining tables for small and large parties are scattered near a fish tank and an open kitchen where servers and chefs are bustling about.
Executive chef Russell Meahl is no stranger to opening new restaurants around the country, but this is his first in the Treasure Valley. He has worked for the Walt Disney Company, Mirage Resorts, Cheesecake Factory and most recently in Boise’s Whole Foods. Meahl will be overseeing a dining room that seats 300 people. Meahl emphasizes that he serves fresh seafood, and told me that ahi and other fish literally arrives “from the boat to your mouth.” Seafood is shipped in almost daily from Hawaii, and most of Kona’s vegetables and other produce are local.
“Literally out of the field and into the kitchen,” he said.
General manager Michael Torres has been with Kona Grill for several years. He opened the Denver restaurant, managed four Arizona locations, and now he and his family, with a baby on the way in January, have settled in Meridian. He will lead a team of 160 employees. He’s clearly a pro.
Kona Grill is one of several new restaurants that will be wowing guests when The Village opens Oct. 18. While it’s a bit tricky to see from the corner of Fairview and Eagle Road, the inside of this lifestyle center will feature a Settebello Pizzeria, Twig’s Bistro and Martini Bar, Yard House, and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill. These restaurants will have their first Idaho presences when they open.
I know people in Boise like to complain about Meridian being so far away. Honestly, as many times as I have now been out to The Village, covering its construction and progress, my advice is to chill, enjoy the experience and, more importantly, sample all the good eats that await inside The Village.