Lahaina Grill, located in the small town of Lahaina in Maui, was not on my original hotlist of "must-go" restos on our recent Maui vacation. I think I may have glanced at the menu once while in my dining search (done a few months before our trip!) and then just skipped over it after not being overly impressed by the look of the menu.
While obviously looks can be deceiving. THANK GOODNESS that we passed by Lahaina Grill on our first walk along Front St. in Lahaina (now our favorite part of Maui!) and ran into a couple who raved about it so much that we opted to change our original reservation at Pineapple Grill so that we could see what all of the hype over Lahaina Grill was all about.
We were easily able to make a reservation the night before (as with most places in Maui) but when we arrived, the restaurant was packed and there was a line waiting outside to be seated (surprising for a Tuesday night!). We were greeted by a lovely hostess who took our coats and gave me a little hook so that I could hang my purse on the table (nice touch!). Service throughout our meal remained excellent. with a very friendly and knowledgeable server who was assisted by a "sous-waiter" who promptly refilled our water and brought out our food. Flawless service. We also loved the atmosphere- casual yet refined.
As for the food, I can easliy saw that this was without a doubt my favorite food in Maui. Amazing flavours, solid execution, beautiful preparation. This chef knows how to keep things relatively simple, yet still make dishes that are nothing like you have ever tasted before. No tricks, no fancy foams or tuiles to complicate matters, just straight up amazing food. Here is a snapshot of our memorable meal:
Ahi Poke- Your jaw may drop when you see the price of this appie ($25 for poke????) but when it arrives at your table, you will perhaps be a bit more understanding. This veritable mountain of fresh, local ahi tuna is more than enough for 2 people to share. The huge chunks of ahi are tossed with beautiful local cucumber and avocado (there must be at least a whole avocado in just one serving!) and perfectly dressed with a light tamarind-ginger dressing. My husband, the ahi expert, enthusiastically recommends this dish!
Seabass with seafood risotto- Unfortunately, you will not find this dish on their regular menu as it was the nightly special. This is a shame as this dish was AMAZING. I adore seabass and order it whenever I can back in Vancouver so it was a treat to try the local variety. The seabass here is less fatty than what I am used to back home and the chef here panfried it, whereas I am used to it being baked. The generous serving of fish (yummmm) was served over a seafood risotto tossed with chunks of scallop and lobster. This was all of course amazing, but I must say that the very best part of this dish, which puts it up there amongst my favourite all time dishes, was the caper-butter sauce at the bottom of the plate that could be mixed in with the risotto and swept up by the vegetable accompaniments (see below). Words cannot describe how amazing this dish was.
Tequila shrimp and firecracker rice- My husband loves shrimp and loves spice so this one seemed like a no-brainer for him and, even then, it far exceeded his expectations. The 8 large, butterflied shrimp (cooked to perfection) are served around a little pile of jasmine rice mixed with a spicy southwest sauce. This is all atop a tequila butter sauce that my husband eagerly soaked up with the rice, the veggies and bread until every last drop was gone. So delicious!
Vegetables- Our server recommended the corn (fresh off the cob, mixed with herb butter) and the green beans (tossed with sliced macadamia nuts) to accompany our selection of mains. After already paying a very pretty penny for your mains, you may think about forgoing the vegetable sides, but I recommend against this since ours were so darn tasty. The local green beans were fresh, crisp and delicious but the corn really stole my heart. The local Maui corn was sweeter than any corn I have ever tasted and was charred on the grill before coming off the cob to bring out the sweetness even more. To die for.
Kauai pie- We were so incredibly full but, after such an outstanding meal, we just had to find out what these guys had up their sleeves for dessert. My husband and I shared this pie made of kona coffee ice cream, a crumbly Oreo crust and layers of fudge and macadamia nuts. What more is there to say but "yummmmmmm"....... (so good, I forgot a pic!).
Although on first glance, you might be taken aback by the rather steep prices here, please do be deterred. I can almost guarantee that your meal will be worht every penny- ours certainly was! Lahaina Grill will without a doubt be top on the "must-go" list on our next visit to Maui!