Sunday, 04 March 2012 01:20
by Gord Montgomery
In Hawaii, and Maui in particular, the number ‘1’ is a big deal, as in a child’s first birthday or a business’s first anniversary.
Interestingly enough, a ‘1’ in golf is also a big deal, so it’s no coincidence perhaps that the game and a restaurant that’s become a favourite place to meet for golfers are a hot combination on this island paradise.
The Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, nestled inauspiciously on the second floor of a strip mall in the Wailea area on Maui, is a delightful dining spot for the entire family that offers something not often found among eateries in this area of the island – price-friendliness.
Perhaps leading the charge in making this a ‘must stop’ locale after a round on one of the three nearby Wailea golf courses – Old Blue, the Emerald and the Gold – is the vast selection of ice-cold beer available.
Thirty-six craft beers served at 29 degrees (F) are on tap, representing the coldest beer and the best selection of microbrews on the island, the restaurant’s website states, adding, “Our culinary cocktails feature unique ingredients such as acai spirit, coconut water and Kula lavender. Our passion for craft also extends to our diverse wine list, which emphasizes sustainability, drinkability and fun.”
The thing here though is the food – good, cooked to perfection and lots of it.
The Monkeypod Kitchen uses locally grown produce as much as possible. As a result, chef Peter Merriman is able to guarantee freshness in both greens and sustainable seafood, and that shows through with each menu selection which is suited to everyone’s taste.
Running the gamut from hamburgers and fries to pizza, the best bet here is the seafood.
To kick things off for our meal, we were encouraged to sample a variety of appetizers we not only had never seen before but had never heard of either.
We began with organic roasted brussel sprouts with peppers, onions, and parmesan cheese that were so good they’d make even the most ardent non-veggie eater sit up and taken notice.
That dish was followed by a unique pasta offering, Pumpkin Patch Ravioli, that was a mixture of Kiawe-roasted squash, chevre, spinach and sage brown butter.
Again, this was a delightful taste experience and one that should somehow be imported to the mainland.
In order to settle our taste buds down a bit from the exotic fare we’d been sampling, we next went to a classic Caesar salad comprised of local baby romaine lettuce, house-baked croutons, shaved Parmesan cheese and delicious creamy lemon dressing.
At this point of the evening it was main course time and we didn’t take too long to make our selections from a menu loaded with mouth-watering selections
Our first choice saw us go with fresh boat-caught fish because why would you even consider dining on anything else on a Pacific island?
The Ahi Nicoise, which is grilled tuna complete with Nakano farms green beans, local tomatoes, Kalamata olives, capers, Maui farm fresh egg and herb vinaigrette proved to be a wise decision.
This fish dish comes pink in the middle, but we flatlanders were told beforehand this is a good thing, and this absolutely delicious offering now comes as a highly recommended dish from us.
As a mainlander, and a prairie steak-and-potatoes kind of person at that, the Ahi was stunning in its goodness and my clean plate at the end of the meal was testament to that.
As for the other main course, macadamia nut covered Mahi Mahi, another locally caught and sustainable fish, met with approval and the verdict was an enthusiastic two thumbs-up as well.
Not wanting to stop the good times at this point – enhanced by live music that didn’t interfere with conversation – we moved onto the dessert tray.
A wise choice, again as a wonderful, tart cream pie put the perfect cap on a perfect meal and, you got it, a perfect day in paradise.
The Monkeypod Kitchen offers plenty of seating indoors with lots of room between tables as well as outdoor seating with views of Kaho'olawe and Lanai. For reservations, call (808) 891-2322.
About the writer: Gord Montgomery is the sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past four years with the majority of his coverage in north and central Alberta.