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Jul 16, 2007 01:06 PM

Maui Report (long)

Back from Maui!

Thank you to everyone for all the information on CH! It was invaluable and much appreciated.

We stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani. We were in a villa – and oh my – are those nice. The ‘plunge pool’ was an enormous success as was the gas grill!

We did go to Costco for staples: grill-able meats, vegetables, snacks and drinks. We ended up shipping wine and so didn’t check the selection there – I wish I had just for curiosity’s sake. We stopped at Safeway (giggling like fiends because we were lowriding after the trip to Costco) and were pleased by the selection there. Also our cashier encouraged us to get the Safeway saver card which ended up saving us quite a bit.

Here’s a list of where we went and what we thought!

The Fairmont Kea Lani: a WONDERFUL breakfast buffet – I am not a fan of buffets but this was a very nice one. We also had dinner our first evening at Café Ciao and it was fine. We were tired and hungry. Our waitress was a peach and the appetizers were a big hit.

Spago at the Four Seasons: we were celebrating my in-laws 50th anniversary, there were 13 of us and our service was very efficient and friendly, a major accomplishment! I had an amazing Pina Colada Martini. Several of us had the poke appetizer, I would say it was just okay and I wouldn’t order it again. The tuna had a mushy, sticky feel to it and the cute little cone got stuck in my teeth (I’m certain that was more of a humidity issue than a quality issue). I was hoping for a fresh and light taste but that wasn’t what I got. The Cesar salad was good and I had the seared rare sashimi quality Ahi Tuna with edamame puree, tomato-ogo relish, pea sprouts and ginger miso butter. It was very enjoyable. However, Mr CF had the steamed Hapu’upu’u “Hong Kong” style and it was fabulous! He liked it as well and so I was only able to get a few bites of that. The Chef de Cuisine came out and spoke to us – a very nice touch – and he also signed a menu for my mother-in-law. I hoped to come back, just the Mr and me but we ran out of time.

Roy’s in Kihei: this was okay. We started with the poke and were hoping for the poke preparation we had come to love (fresh tuna, avocado, radish sprouts, soy) but it was a plainer, probably more original style. Not to worry though, we ate it with joy. I would say that everyone’s dinner was fine, no one complained but it wasn’t a dinner to remember. In fact I can’t remember what everyone’s dinner was!

David Paul’s Lahaina Grill: we have wanted to go here for years and finally made it. It was worth the wait and we would go back. Our waiter, Emilcar was very kind to me and brought me a glass of champagne while I waited for Mr CF as he parked the car. He also made allowances for a food allergy so that we could both have the tasting menu. We ordered wine ourselves, a Cliff Lede 2005 to start and a Sea Smoke “Ten” 2005 for our main course, both lovely wines. Mr CF had the Cake Walk – 3 little ‘cakes’ of a Kona lobster cake, a rock shrimp cake and an Ahi tuna cake. I had 3 little Ahi tuna cakes. Salads were small servings of both the Bufala tomato salad and the Caesar salad with a white anchovy. Mr CF went with the “land” side of the tasting menu and got small servings of the Kona coffee roasted rack of lamb, the Kalua duck and the veal chop – it was all wonderful. He said he would have eaten that duck till he popped. I went with the “sea” side of the tasting menu and had the sautéed Mahi-Mahi, and the Maui onion, sesame seed crusted seared Ahi – it was fine, I think that maybe I had had enough tuna already with the 3 tuna cakes for an appetizer. I wished I had gone with what Mr CF had! Desserts were yummy but I can’t remember what they were.

Tommy Bahama: I know, I know, a chain but the food was good, the drinks were great (a S’mores Martini – vanilla vodka, cream de caco( a clear chocolate liquor), a toasted marshmallow and a graham cracker rim - oh my!) and that was what we needed that night.

The Feasts at Lele: this was a really big hit with everyone. I have never seen my father-in-law look so happy – he was entranced by the hula girls – made me smile. I loved that it wasn’t a buffet and drinks were included. We had 2 waiters and they were attentive even though the place was packed. They took the time to bring me a few dishes to substitute for the shell fish items, which I thought was a very considerate thing for them to do, and made sure I knew what to avoid – no one was in the mood for an Epi-pen episode. Everyone loved the food and the different native dances.

Joe’s Bar and Grill: this was our last dinner on Maui, and it was very enjoyable. I didn’t take any notes that night and so have forgotten everything except that I had a fish that I swear our waiter said was a “gray snapper” – whatever it was it was very good.

We headed back to the hotel, hummed The Beverly Hillbillies theme song as we packed up our minivans, and headed to the airport.

That’s my story, thanks for listening and Aloha!

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  1. Sounds like a great trip! Your fish at Joe's if it was gray snapper is called Uku in Hawaiian and can also be known as Jobfish, it is related to Onaga and Opakapaka.
    I have always enjoyed everything I've had at Joe's over the years, I like the decor.
    Your meal at Spago sounds lovely, if you were unhappy with the ahi you should have pointed that out. I too have enjoyed the "Hong Kong" style fish at the Beverly Hills location. It's great that a mileston event was made so special with this meal. I have known the Chef de Cuisine for many years and he is truly special, he's worked hard to get where he is and has taken the Maui destination to new levels, I can just see him coming out to meet you all and signing the menu, he's that kind of guy. I just can't get myself into a Tommy Bahama cafe, been to the Wailea one once and recently at Mauna Lani I just couldn't do it again, glad you enjoyed it. Enjoyed your reviews very much! Thanks!

    2 Replies
    1. re: manomin

      You are right! It was Uku, I had forgotten.

      Our meal at Spago was lovely, truly. It wasn't that I was unhappy with the Ahi in the appetizer - maybe it was supposed to be that way and I wasn't expecting it. Trust me, it was eaten and everyone else who ordered it thought it was just fine.

      Please tell the Chef de Cuisine (I think his name is Cameron) that we, the Kaiser family, say Thank you, Thank you and that he made my mother-in-laws night by signing the menu for her.

      :-) Dawn

      1. re: Cookiefiend

        I will. You can read his amazing story at, look up the name Cameron Lewark in the archives. I've had those cones a few times and it seems the ahi is a little soft but still tasted great. Next time you go you should definitely try Hailiimaile General Store (same chef/owner as Joe's) it's fabulous and so incredibly pretty in decor, we went for lunch and were just blown away. Also is the Waterfront in Maalaea, really good too!

    2. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I am getting married at the Fairmont Wailea this next July and I am feverishly trying to plan meals and specifically, my wedding reception meal for myself, FI, and our 7 guests. Spago has come highly reccommended.

      If you have any suggestions for eats, actvities, or anything in general in and around Fairmont, that would be great. All of us are Hawaii newbies!

      6 Replies
      1. re: mandysue36

        Congratulations mandysue36!

        The Fairmont is a wonderful hotel and they will do their best for you. There are so many things for you to do on Maui.... but for me the beach is the highlight.

        I would highly recommend Spago for your reception. They did a spectacular job for my in-laws anniversary dinner, and I truly mean that.

        I've been feverishly looking for my own notes on this trip. We're going back in February with some friends and there were some places I want to try this time! Like you, I will be scouring this board for inspiration!

        Have fun and best wishes!

        1. re: mandysue36

          Have Caffe Ciao at the KL prepare a picnic lunch, use their bikes (they were complimentary when we used to stay there) & ride towards Turtle Bay, famous Makena Beach and the Marine Reserve. Bring snorkeling equipment, towels & $$ in case you run into the taco stand! Do snorkel at Turtle Bay - fun to swim with the turtles, but it is rather murky here.

          Walk the Wailea Beach Walk from the KL to the Grand Wailea, Four Seasons & beyond - spectacular! Some good snorkeling off of Ulua Beach (pretty sure that's it!)

          Book the KL limo and the Grand Wailea Spa Grande treatments well in advance and enjoy a totally hedonistic day in their incredible spa. Not a big fan of the hotel (don't eat here!), but the Spa is fantastic!!

          The Lobby Bar at the KL is a great place for your group to gather - wonderful martinis!

          Have fun and Happy Wedding!!

          1. re: torta basilica

            We recently returned from Maui and stayed at the Four Seasons right next to the Fairmont. We did eat at Spago twice. I'm sorry to say I can't give them a very good review. Service was good on both meals. Prices here are sky high but it's the FS so you expect that. Our first meal for two, Water ($20) 2 apps, 2 entrees and desserts, tip $300. The second trip we had two apps, two entrees, 1/2 bottle opus 1, tip $500.
            Our first meal we had the ahi sashime & tartare which was very good but an incredibly small portion, as was the ahi poke in sesame miso cones. The miso cones while they tasted ok were not anything I'd order again. I doubt there was a teaspoon of tuna in each. They set the miso cones in a drilled out wooden rack that looked like it had been run through the machine hundreds of times. Really a bit gross to be serving food on. We both had Snapper and dessert which was good but nothing fantastic other than the outside table and view which was really very nice.
            The second meal we had was with two other couples and we had the same Ahi Sashime & tartare and it was litterally twice the size of the previous meal. We thoroughly enjoyed that. Three of us ordered bone in rib eye ($68) and another lamb chops. When the plates arrived we all just looked at each other in disbelief. My wifes steak was fine, Mine was slightly burned and had back grill crud on it while the third steak was completely black as were the lamb chops which were about the size of a fifety cent piece. One steak and the lamb went back. We had all ordered MR. The lamb wound up going back two more times. Honestly if this restaurant wasn't in the FS I don't think it would be around very long. We saw other tables sending dishes back as well. We were staying on the CL level and one of the concierges did confide that they have a new chef at the FS (not spago) that no one likes and it was causing quite a rift in the staff . Apparently the Spago staff does not work for the FS and there seems to be some animosity there as well.
            We also ate at the FS restaurant DUO which was the worst meal I have ever been served any where. I'll just leave it at that and say it was so bad we walked out.
            We did eat at the Lahaina grill as well. It was beyond fantastic. Easilly the best meal we had on Maui. Service was flawless, prices reasonable and all the food was great. I had the Duck Quesadilla app and my wife had the king crab ravioli which was perfect. The toy box tomato salad was very good. They really focus on local ingredients here. We then had the maui onion and sesame encrusted Ahi. Perhaps the most original and easily the best tune I've ever had. If you go to Maui do not miss the Lahaina grill!

            1. re: Docsknotinn

              Thanks for the report Docsknotinn, I'm sorry your meals weren't so good at Spago - thats a bummer because I know they are capable of so much more.

              I'm glad to hear you liked David Paul's Lahaina Grill. We're going back in February and will be celebrating a birthday (a big one for Mr CF) and that's where we will be going. I'm really looking forward to it.

              That and some sunshine!

              1. re: Cookiefiend

                As an interesting aside The Lahaina Grill has now dropped the David Paul name. IIR they had a 8 year deal on the name that expired. The same owner (Jurg Munch) has had the restaurant for that time frame. We had the chance to speak to Jurg in the afternoon and he came to our table at dinner. I like verything about this place. The ambiance is as good as the food.....almost! There is a public pay lot about a block behind the restaurant. One of my all time favorite meals and a Maui highlight. If we are back in Hawaii I won't be suprised if we take an inter island flight and spend the night in Maui just to eat here again. It was that good. Happy B'day to Mr. CF and happy travels! :)

                1. re: Docsknotinn


                  I always forget to drop the David Paul's - habit I guess. :-)

                  Thanks for the Happy B'day wishes!