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Anniversary dinner, Lahaina-area, Maui

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We're going to be on Maui for our anniversary this year, and have lined up a sitter for our two young-ish kids. We're looking to book a special anniversary dinner, with three main factors:

1) the quality of the food (of course!),
2) the ambience (preferably not a room filled with kids, since we'll be on break from ours...), and
3) the convenience.

We're staying at the Sheraton in Kaanapali, and would like a non-driving option (so that we can both have wine). There's a free shuttle to Lahaina, but I assume that we can instead get a taxi pretty easily to/from the Kapalua area.

After reading through pages of past reviews on this board (as well as on other sites), it appears that the best option for us is the Pineapple Grill, where I have booked a reservation. Now, as we get closer, though, doubt is beginning to set in! Merriman's has been getting a lot of good posts, and I'm also intrigued by the Lahaina Grill. I *think* that Pacific'o and I'o are not the same level of quality, but their location on the water is very nice. I would very much welcome any thoughts/opinions. Thanks!

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  1. OK, let's try this again. CH's server croaked on the last attempt.

    I'd do these, and in this order:

    1.) Merriman's Kapalua
    2.) Banyan Tree @ Ritz Carlton Kapalua
    3.) Gerard's Lahaina

    Of these, Gerard's is in Lahaina and probably on the Sheraton's transit loop. The others are in Kapalua, so a taxi ride would probably be in order. Do not know the transit options on Maui, so others will have to instruct you. There are some recent reviews of both the Banyan Tree and Gerard's. My reviews are to be found on: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598400

    I did not observe any children at any of these three.

    Lahaina Grill was very good, though we did hit them on a very bad night. Still, for me, the romance factor would be lacking. I'd say the same for Pacific`O's, though the food was good, when we last dined there. We've never been to I`O, so I cannot comment.

    I understand your concer, regarding driving "home," after a wonderful meal with fine wines.

    Happy anniversary, enjoy, and please let us know what you decided on.

    Hunt

    1. For some odd reason, the Link to Place is not behaving tonight. Here are the links, to perhaps help you decide from the respective Web sites.

      Hunt

      [Edit] The Banyan Tree link is just flat not going to work. Here is the URL:
      http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Propert...

      -----
      Gerard's Restaurant
      174 Lahainaluna Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761

      Merriman's Kapalua
      , Lahaina, HI 96761

      1. Lahaina Grill is our favorite, be sure to mention that you are looking for a "romantic" table - celebrating, etc, that way you get a back table... they are consistently fantastic food & service...

        -----
        Lahaina Grill
        127 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina Maui, HI 96761

        1. Hi mechteach -

          The Pineapple Grill is nice and has a great view of the golf course - but it's not so romantic IMHO.

          My first choice would be Merriman's - the view is stunning, the food is great, and they have a very nice wine list.

          My second would be The Banyan Tree at the Kapalua Ritz. - for the same reasons.

          1. Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. We've decided to do the Lahaina Grill with the kids at an early seating on another night. For the anniversary dinner, we're booked into Gerard's, mainly due to the taxi vs. hotel shuttle situation. There's still availability at Merriman's, though, so I'm wavering a bit....

            1 Reply
            1. re: mechteach

              We went to Merriman's last night ourselves for an anniversary dinner. The food was good, not spectaular. The views were nice and the service was okay, not outstanding. The desserts were the star of the show with the sorbets and gelatos being delicious. The most disappointing was the prawn appetizer...3 crawfish-sized "prawns' cooked sous vide and served head on (it looks way bigger that way) with a few grapefruit segments. Okay but not outstanding but pricey at about $16. All in all, a nice dinner but not swoon-worthy by any means, especially for the price.

            2. Was in Maui last week for our honeymoon and it also happened to be my birthday while we were there. We stayed at the Ritz in Kapalua so mostly stayed local and took advantage of the Kapalua bus. We LOVED Merriman's - it is definitely anniversary-worthy. We also dined at Pineapple Grill, which was fantastic as well but not as romantic. For my birthday dinner we went to David Paul's Island Grill in Lahaina and it was amazing. They had a reasonable tasting menu ($45 pp) and you get to go into the wine cellar to personally select your own wine. It was a fun experience!

              13 Replies
              1. re: Obessed

                <They had a reasonable tasting menu ($45 pp) and you get to go into the wine cellar to personally select your own wine.>

                !! That does seem really reasonable - how many courses was the tasting menu?
                !! And to pick your own wine... my goodness!

                Thank you so much for that information!

                1. re: Cookiefiend

                  I think it was 8 or 9 courses - let me see if I can remember...we started with an amuse - some sort of cold soup, I think hearts of palm. The first course was watermelon & feta salad and it was so refreshing and a perfect start. Next we had brussel sprout Caesar Salad, this may have been my least favorite but it was very interesting. Then I think we had 2 fish courses - it escapes me what we had, but I will ask my husband and report back. I think chicken was next, followed by some sort of steak dish. I want to say they also brought out some side dishes - maybe potatoes and a veggie. For dessert, it was definitely chocolate and they put a candle on mine for my birthday - very sweet way to end the night. We had so much good food & wine on this trip that I am almost drawing a blank, how sad. I will ask the hubbie and report back with more details.

                  As for the wine, they have the cellar divided into white and red, by regions and everything is priced (and good prices to boot). It was fun to "shop" for our wine. I think we had a Malbec that the sommelier recommended. He came into the cellar a few minutes after we got there to answer any questions.

                  David Paul was circulating the restaurant - greeting diners (including us) and also helping the other staff fill water glasses, clear plates, etc. The staff was really wonderful and friendly. It was definitely the perfect way to end our last night in Maui (the next day we were off to Kauai - I reported on our dining experiences there on another post if you are interested).

                  1. re: Obessed

                    Wow - that's amazing! We'll definitely make reservations there.

                    I read your other post - it sounds like you had a great time - congratulations on your marriage!

                    Next time you go - try The Gazebo for breakfast at least once, the pancakes are amazing! If you like pancakes that is... ;-)

                    1. re: Cookiefiend

                      Thank you - we had such an amazing time! We actually planned to try Gazebo, but we're told the wait could be up to an hour so we decided against it. But definitely next time we will make an effort to go for those yummy pancakes I keep reading about.

                      1. re: Obessed

                        I love going to the Gazebo, on a rainy morning, as many flee. I do not, and the "wait" can me minutes, instead of what would normally be stated.

                        Missed them on the last trip.

                        Hunt

                    2. re: Obessed

                      The tasting menu sounds great although I think I'd prefer to pick my wine off a wine list. Still that sounds fun.
                      We are looking forward to trying this later this year.

                      1. re: Fritter

                        Sometimes I feel the same way. However, when a sommelier has done a good job, a well-thoughtout pairing is wonderful. Also, some meals, I just want a "night off." While I know my way around a wine list, a good sommelier should know the kitchen and the cellar. What better way to explore, than to have him/her offer their pairings.

                        Hunt

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Wandering around the cellar really isn't my idea of a night off. I don't like salad bars much either. I really prefer service to kitch.
                          I tend to appreciate a Sommelier the most on a tasting menu with wines by the glass paired with each course. If I'm choosing my own bottle I'm content with a list and table service but will look foreword to seeing their cellar in a few months.

                          1. re: Fritter

                            They still give you a wine list and after about 2 minutes of browsing in the cellar, the Sommelier came in and offered his services to help us select a wine with dinner.

                            1. re: Obessed

                              Did they offer a pre selected wine pairing for each course with the tasting menu? For me a tasting menu is lost when I have to select a single bottle for all courses. Was the wine list larger than what they have on the web site?

                              1. re: Fritter

                                Dang, it only took me six tries to post to CH tonight!

                                I am with you on this one. Unless a restaurant has a good B-T-G, or half-bottle list, it can be difficult, at best, to pick the one quintessential bottle for all courses, especially if a couple is like my wife and me, and have different tastes. Often, I will make my mains selection based on the wine to pair with her choice.

                                Hunt

                            2. re: Fritter

                              Well, for me, I am the one, to whom the wine list is always handed. I may have 50 diners, hanging on my choices. When it is just the two of us, I am usually happy to pass the baton to a good sommelier. When they do their job, and bring their intimate knowledge to bear, I am pleased, and it IS a "night off "for me. In general, they are trained professionals, and should know both the kitchen and the cellar. Should they do the job, with which they are charged, then things are good on my front.

                              Hunt

                    3. re: Obessed

                      Nice report, especially the new David Paul's.

                      Mahalo,

                      Hunt

                    4. have not been to merriman's (wasn't opened yet) but i spent my birthday last year at pacific o and the food and ambience was equally grand. also, tried pineapple grill and although we liked the food, it wasn't very "special".

                      1. We ended up doing Gerard's for our anniversary, and did the degustation menu. It was a very nicely put together meal - not "island" cuisine, but full of fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. The service was also professional, and it was very pleasant to sit out on the lanai as the evening deepened. It would have been nice to do a series of wine pairings with the menu, but that was a little more difficult. The list of wines by the bottle is quite extensive, but they do not have a large selection of half-bottles or wines by the glass.

                        We also had a nice meal at the Lahaina Grill (with the kids - don't worry, they are well-behaved!), but I did not find the setting to be as romantic.

                        It isn't in the same league, but I really enjoyed a dinner we ate at the Hula Grill in Kaanapali as well. It was within walking distance to our hotel, and I really expected no better than typical beach food - grilled fish, limp veggies, etc. Instead, I had a tandoori-style Monchong that was unbelieveable. My husband had Kiawe wood grilled Mahi Mahi that was good, but the tandoori Monchong knocked it out of the park. The seasonings were well balanced, and the fatty consistency of the fish was a perfect counterbalance to the spice. The grilled fish on the Keiki menu was also prepared with more skill and care than I would have expected, and was promptly inhaled by both of our kids. It was definitely the surprise restaurant of our trip.

                        Thanks again, everyone, for the input. I have a nice wish list of other restaurants now for the next time we are lucky enough to go to Maui.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mechteach

                          I have always had good meals at Hula Grill...plus, its nice to walk there from the Westin.

                          1. re: mechteach

                            Glad you had a very good meal at Gerard's. I do agree about the lack of half-bottles, or B-T-G, and believe that I "nicked" them in my review for that. Though it takes some work to put together either (or better yet - BOTH), many diners really appreciate the efforts and expenses on the part of the restaurant.

                            We were limited on our visit, to trying to pick two bottles to cover the entire range of dishes. Maybe that was why I was so quick to share some of our wines with a near-by couple, who were celebrating the wife's birthday - we just had more than we could drink.

                            Mahalo for the report,

                            Hunt