Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lahaina Grill, Maui

Lahaina Grill is a popular fine dining restaurant in Maui that has won numerous local awards. It's been around for 20 years, yet its decor and location still feels contemporary. The restaurant is located in the quaint town of Lahaina, just off the busy Front Street that houses numerous bars, shops and restaurants. Their kitchen focuses on utilizing local and seasonal ingredients.

Our waiter brought by these purse hooks. I know it looks cheesy but I love it! There's nothing worse than placing your bag on the floor while it gets trampled on or gets gum stuck to the bottom.

We had our eye on the Chef's Tasting menu for $78 each which included a selection of signature appetizers, salads, either seafood or meat courses, and dessert.

Good to see that fresh handcrafted cocktails have made their way to Hawaiian restaurants.

Samurai (square one organic cucumber vodka, fresh cucumber, ginger, lime, basil, ginger ale)
Ginger Buddha Drop (Hangar One Citron vodka, fresh lemon juice, crystallized ginger)

Bread was warm and fresh. I liked the soft herb butter which they replaced every time they brought by another round of bread.

Ahi Tuna Poke with avocado and cucumber
This wasn't part of the tasting menu but we added it on. It's Hawaii, we gotta have tuna poke. The tuna was fresh but I thought the pieces were too large and cumbersome.

The Cake Walk - petite servings of maine lobster crab cake, pacific northwest white rock shrimp cake and seared ahi cake

I thought this was a great way to showcase various seafood cakes. The lobster and shrimp cake were my favorite because they were like little croquettes with a soft interior and deep fried on the outside.

Bufala tomato salad - olowalu tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, truffle oil, aged balsamic vinaigrette, alziari extra virgin olive oil with black kilauea sea salt
Organic golden and red beet salad - oven roasted hana baby beets, alziari extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar from modena, candied pecans, toasted dalmatia fig
Caby romaine caesar salad - garlic-anchovy dressing, croutons, shaved parmesan reggiano cheese, white italian anchovies

The trio of salads was a nice light way to balance out the heavy meal. I especially love the whole anchovies in the caesar. Unfortunately, the plating just looked so cramped and amateur. The mozzarella was chalky and the beet salad was boring.

Land Platter
Certified angus beef filet mignon - 8 oz. certified angus center cut beef filet, potato wrapped prawn, herbed mashed potatoes, whole grain mustard port wine demi-glace
Kona coffee roasted mountain meadows rack of lamb - light coffee-cabernet demi-glace, herbed mashed potatoes
Kalua duck - confit of woodland farms all natural free range duck leg, thyme wild rice, plum wine reduction

I actually really liked all three meat courses. The duck was so soft that it seemed like it had been stewed for a long time. The filet and lamb were both cooked to perfection. I also liked the accompaniments which were tasty, although generic. My only criticism is that once again, the plating was messy. All the different sauces and reductions ended up mixing together so I was tasting flavors that didn't necessarily pair well with the meat. Doubt that was the intention of the kitchen.

Seafood Platter
Sautéed line caught local mahi-mahi - kula spinach, herbed mashed potatoes, gorgonzola, pancetta and chardonnay beurre blanc
Maui onion and sesame seed crusted seared ahi - fresh local ahi steak, vanilla bean jasmine rice, apple cider-soy butter vinaigrette
Tequila shrimp and firecracker rice - pacific northwest shrimp, southwestern herbs and spices, tequila butter

I thought the seafood was also cooked well -none of the fish or shrimp were overcooked. This was also a great way to showcase the local fresh products. But as you will notice, the sauces were amalgamating.

The Tasting Menu ended with a dessert sampler. Unfortunately we were stuffed by then and were rushing to catch the shuttle back to the hotel, so we requested for our desserts to be packed to-go.

Triple berry pie - combination of raspberries, blueberries and black currants nestled in a light flaky crust set on whipped cream
Road to hana, maui - layers of Hawaiian vintage chocolate cake, chocolate sour cream mousse and macadamia nut caramel

This was definitely not a cheap meal by any means, most meals in Hawaii aren't. Appetizers were around $20 and entrees were in the $40s. But I do think that if you are going to commit to it, the Chef's Tasting Menu is the way to go. We were able to get a taste of so many dishes. I really enjoyed the cakewalk and the entree platters. I inhaled my entree, but that could have been because I only had breakfast all day and surfed a good 3 hours and went for a run. I thought the food was tasty and cooked well, but I probably wouldn't compare it to most good LA restaurants at the same price point. I also thought the presentation was messy, with multiple sauces mixing on the place. But overall, a decent dinner and a good taste of the island.

Hits: Chef's tasting, meat course
Misses: pricey
Rating: ***

Lahaina Grill
127 Lahainaluna Rd.,
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
(808) 667-5117

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