"Impossible," said the maitre d' when we called him over to discuss the issue. "My staff is well trained."

We begged to differ, and while the maitre d' was incredibly snotty (after his staff had been sweetly solicitous), he eventually reduced the $40 cover to $30 -- the price of a lobster at the restaurant. (I did call back, incidentally, and gave the hostess who answered the phone ample opportunity to mention a cover charge; she did not.) Add the cover to the price of the entrees, and suddenly Mai-Kai doesn't seem so tasty. You can, however, request a table that doesn't have a view of the show and therefore avoid the cover. Or you can eat for free on Wednesday nights: A sushi buffet, complimentary with the purchase of cocktails, is laid out in the Molokai Bar. Next time I go to Mai-Kai, I'll skip the show and head straight for the bar.

Mai-Kai. 3599 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, 954-563-3272. Open nightly for dinner from 6 p.m.; call for showtimes and appropriate seatings.

Lobster bisque
$5.25

Pupu platter
$13.95

Prime rib
$23.50

Lobster Tahitienne
$32.00

Bananas Bengali (for two)
$11.75

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