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Jan 7, 2009 05:34 AM

Maui: any BYO/Corkage fine dining?

I'm going to Kaanapali Beach in Feb. with much of my extended family (staying at the Westin). I've lived in NYC & London for many years and I'm picky (and knowledgable) about my food and wine.

My first big question is this: do any of the nice restaurants within reasonable driving distance allow corkage? I'm willing to pay up to $50 per bottle, and the wine I bring won't be insulting to anyone...these would be wines that would have been $50+ at retail or are well-aged.

My second question is much simpler: any good restaurant recs? Again, I'm real picky, and I have to deal with other family members whose palates are fairly conservative, which rules out some of the sushi or other creative Hawaiian stuff I might prefer if I were there on my own....I know I'm being lazy and can cobble this together from other posts, but many recommended restaurants dont seem to have current menu's online so I'm a little nervous about making reservations. Think of a place that needs to satisfy someone who thinks that Eleven Madison Park, in NYC, is insufficiently creative, but also needs to please Great Aunt Lilly from Worcester.

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  1. Maui county has different rules on alcohol than other Hawaii counties. One is no BYOB another is no infused spirits.

    6 Replies
    1. re: manomin

      They have the same law in Boston, MA...but generally, with sufficiently nice bottles I have found some restaurants to be "friendly" to alternative there any possibility of lucking out here?

      ( I have a really nice bottle of Leoville Las Cases I want to have with dinner on my vacation!)

      1. re: redsoxnumber1

        Hard to imagine they'd jeopardize their liquor license just for you but when you decide where
        you are dining when you make the reservation you could ask.

        1. re: manomin

          Update: I found a place that is willing to do this. It's one of the upscale restaurants. I don't want to reveal it b/c thats very unfair to the restaurant and is kind of like biting the hand that feeds you, but all I can say is that if you have a sufficiently nice bottle, you should try asking around.

          1. re: redsoxnumber1

            Do not mention a word, as it is a county policy. You don't want to get anyone in deep do-do with the county.


        2. re: redsoxnumber1

          In my case, I had a bottle of Le Montrachet, plus a La Tache. No dice. Now, if you have a vertical of DRC Burgs, say 20 years, their tune might change. Still, we had some good Corton-Charlemagnes and a few wonderful Centeral Coast (US) Pinot Noirs. Just no BYOW, under any circumstances. That is Maui.


          1. re: redsoxnumber1

            Found this thread when looking for Maui BYOB. Ironically I will also be in Boston shortly and am also interested to know which restaurants there might be "friendly" to alternate arrangements for BYOB? Of course I am talking about bringing a very nice bottle only.


        3. The corkage in Maui County is non-existant. Also, one cannot take a bottle, that has been opened away from the establishment. It makes no difference if you have a bottle of Le Montrachet, and offer a taste to the chef, the sommelier and the server - you cannot bring it with you.

          The rest of Hawai`i has some different policies. These almost seem to be established at the restaurant level, but maybe that is just my perception.

          There are some good wine lists on that side of the Island. I'm still working on reviews from late last month, but will give you a peek: Lahaina Grill (was David Paul's Lahaina Grill) has a good one. Gerrard's, across the street was a good one. The Banyan Tree at Kapalua impressed me. I thought that Mala had a fun wine list, and fairly priced - wish that the food had lived up to it. Peter Merriman's in Kapalua was very nice on both the food and wine aspects. I dined next to the chef from I`o (also Feast of Lei Lei) and he talked a good talk. Did not make it there, but the chef's answers were the right ones. He also seemed to know his wines pretty well. Might be worth a venture.

          I plan on posting by week's end, with full reviews. One rant will be the BYOB/corkage situation, plus the re-corking of wine to take home/to resort.

          What price-range are you looking for? Is a short drive up to Kapalua out of the equation? Do you just want great food/wine, or do you also want a heavy Hawaiian influence? Sorry, I do not know Eleven Madison Park. Can you broaden that out a bit for those outside of NYC?


          4 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            I did use the "we're on our honeymoon" line on the restaurant in question.

            Given that you have similar tastes to me, Mr. Hunt (though I confess I've never had a shot at La Tache, but only a disappointing DRC Echezeaux), I'm curious to know more about what you thought of Lahaina Grill- I have a res there, but I'm a little leery of some of the stuff I read. Better off with Merriman's or Gerrard's?

            Eleven Madison Park to say, its New American, but generally, it is (to my mind) schticky reinterpretations of classical dishes that don't add to the original- eg, suckling pig where the meat was removed from the bone, pressed into a square, then cover with a square sized piece of ultra crispy skin. A 5-star type presentation, yes, but frankly, the dish works better with a big 'ol leg in front of you.

            Really, I want a place that, most importantly, knows their proper cooking techniques, sources good ingredients, and is delicious- and as a perk maybe has some flavors I've never thought of putting together before for SOME dishes, but has some other well-made standbys on the menu. I hope that's not impossibly convoluted!

            NOTE: I should add that I've intentionally possibly played games with the restaurants I'm naming so that you can't deduce the one that is accomodating me from my posts. I'm very conscious of that.

            1. re: dzop

              A quick overview of Lahaina Grill. Went about the time that David Paul let, though his name remained. The food was very, very good - probably best we had on Maui on that trip. Loved the wine flights, etc., that they were doing then.

              Return trip, and we had friends over from O`ahu to play Kapalua with us, and to dine at Lahaina Grill. It was packed with a large party (guessing 50+), who were very loud, occupied many tables and just would not leave. We were 40 mins. late being seated and could not even talk at our 4-top. Crowd finally left and the charm of the restaurant returned. Servers were so apologetic, as was the management. Luckily, the wine list was a good and fun one.

              All of the food for our table was heavily "Island influenced," and each dish was prepared very well. Portion sizes were more than adequate (actually, some could have actually been a tad smaller). Service was perfect, especially from the sommelier. In our group, everyone loved all of their dishes, and we each went with about four courses each.

              Of our dining on Maui, I would put it just below Mama's Fish House and Merriman's Kapalua, and slightly above The Banyan Tree at the Ritz Carlton. That puts it squarely in the #3 position, and I have to say that it did not fall below the two winners by very much.

              Once the stumbles of the beginning ceased (the party left), all was so very good in all aspects - that's even considering the BYOW situation.

              I think that you're very likely to find just what you are looking for at Lahaina Grill. Mention to the server, your last comment, "maybe has some flavors I've never thought of putting together before for SOME dishes." They should be able accommodate you perfectly.

              Sorry to hear about the Grand Echezeaux. Luckily, I have never had one, that I did not love, even on someone else's expense account!


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                David Paul's New Island Grill will be opening end of April 09 featuring D.P. himself(the original owner of Lahaina Grill)as head chef...900 front st, ocean view, next to Ruth Chris steak house...I'm looking forward to it

                1. re: bigmauib

                  Thank you for the update. Next trip back to Maui, we will give it a try.


          2. no BYO, but Longhi's in Lahaina is incredible.

            1. I spent Nov-Dec on Maui and ate at most of the places mentioned in the replies. Two I thought were very good were the old stand by Chez Paul and Capische? Both have outstanding food and service.

              1 Reply
              1. re: maui9bill

                Glad you had a good experience at Chez Paul's. I wanted one, since I had fond memories of previous visits, but just found nothing to really like about that meal. Maybe we hit them on the wrong night. Still, with great memories, I wish them well.


              2. Sorry I'm coming in quite late to this, but for the record -- Maui County law forbids BYOB and, as Bill Hunt noted, it also forbids taking wine out of a restaurant. The first is a sop to restaurant operators who don't want tourists buying cheap wine and bringing it in, the second a wacky nod to retailers. The first is easily handled by corkage fees (and let the cheapskates howl when someone asks $25 to open their bottle of Two Buck Chuck) while the second encourages patrons to gulp it all down rather than leave a portion of an overpriced bottle of wine off the list. Go figure. Each island is its own county (though Molokai and Maui are the same county) and has its own rules. You may find exceptions, but that's the law.

                4 Replies
                1. re: MRMoggie

                  I will address my feelings on BYOW, as I'd only think of bringing wine to a restaurant. For me, it's not something that I think of all that often, especially when I'm away from home. In 40 years, I've probably done this four, or so, times. Each was for a special wine, and none has appeared on any of the restaurants' wine lists. Same for Maui, though it was not to be.

                  I do feel that the voters on Maui should reconsider the removal of opened wine from a restaurant. I feel that it would actually promote driving safety. Most fok, who order wine would not think of drinking it from the bottle on the way home, and would also allow them to order better wines for the meal, and then use them later on. However, I am not a voter in Maui County, so cannot sway such a vote. Even at a resort in a dry county on the Mainland, we often had 3-4 previously opened bottles of wines from previous nights. We could have taken them back to our room, but chose to have them available for the next meal. By the last night, we had 6 bottles to taste with our meal.

                  I do understand the feelings of the restauranteurs, but also feel that exceptions should be made. Same for my home state of AZ, where there are all sort of stipulations to consider, like number of seats, liquor license, etc. Still, if there is an open corkage policy, it should keep the $2 Chuck out of the dining room.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Older thread, but I'm curious. When I was at CJ's Deli & Diner, on the door, it said, BYOB. Now, it didn't sell alcohol, but it basically advertised that you can BYOB in. Is this different than a place that sells alcohol? And if not, why would they put that on their door?

                    1. re: kelela92

                      Interesting. Not familiar with CJ's. If Maui is like AZ (and why should it be), there are all sorts of stipulations on BYOB. In AZ, if one has more than a certain number of seats (24?), and no liquor license, they can be BYOB. Any more seats, or a liquor license and it's no go. All of the places that I contacted had a liquor license, and their statement was "sorry, not on Maui."

                      Maybe it was up-thread here, or another similar one, but it seems that someone posted the excerpt from the County of Maui Liquor Laws.

                      Still, a few claim that they were invited by un-named restaruants to bring their wine. Even with wines that would never be on any of these restaurants' lists, I got a no go.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Interesting to say the least. Thanks for explaining some of the crazy laws. I'm not overly concerned, just curious though.