Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lahaina Grill Memories

Following in M's train of thought, I thought I would write about our food memories from 2 years ago today. Today, back in 2009, M and I were in Maui preparing for our wedding. And by preparing, we both meant going around and eating at all of our favorite restaurants. It's fairly amusing when we think about it. Most people starve themselves in an effort to avoid gaining weight before their wedding. We went the opposite direction. From our trips to Maui to plan our wedding, we found some favorite restaurants that we knew we had to enjoy during our time there.

One favorite is Lahaina Grill. The food and the service are simply amazing, and they are well deserving of all of the accolades and awards they have received throughout the years. Our first visit to the restaurant back in 2008 we showed up in VERY casual clothes. I was wearing a sleeveless Under Armour shirt with board shorts, and M was wearing gym shorts and a tanktop on top of her bikini. We felt and looked so under-dressed, but the wait staff were perfectly nice, and they didn't make any mention of our attire.

This time around we were dressed much more appropriately. Every meal starts off with their fresh baked rolls and garlic herb butter. We normally don't eat butter, and M usually makes a point to avoid it as much as possible, but the Lahaina Grill garlic herb butter is so good that it is worth the exception.

Bread and Garlic Herb Butter

The warm, fresh rolls melted the butter perfectly. It was infused with so much garlic that you can barely taste regular butter flavor.

After a few rolls each (we always eat too many) we moved on to our appetizers which were a pair of salads. I had the beet salad, and M had their signature toy box tomato salad.

Toy Box Tomato Salad and Beet Salad

Because Maui grows almost all of their fruits and vegetables on the island, there's an amazing freshness to pretty much everything they cook. The Toy Box Tomato Salad was so simple, but it was so unbelievably tasty. Baby tomatoes and Maui onions tossed in extra virgin olive oil and dressed with an organic basil honey vinaigrette served in a martini glass. Simple in its preparation, complex on its flavor. The sweetness and juiciness of the tomatoes were far beyond anything we had ever gotten from the grocery stores in the continental US states, and the light coating of dressing added just enough acidity to complete the dish. The beet salad tasted just as fresh even though the beets were pickled. It was a special of the day so we don't have the exact ingredient list, but we know it contained beets, watercress, a lettuce blend, and goat cheese covered crostinis. Again, these beets tasted so much fresher and better than any beets we'd ever eaten. Pair them with the saltiness of the goat cheese crostinis, and it's another simple yet flavorful dish.

Next we moved on to our main courses. We were in Maui, we got fish. It was not a hard decision. M got the sauteed wild pacific salmon served with local spinach, local tomatoes, local asparagus, and thyme scented wild rice. I got the sauteed mahi mahi with local spinach, herb mashed potatoes, gorgonzola, pancetta, and chardonnay beurre blanc.

M's Salmon and my Mahi Mahi

M's dish was the better of the two, but that's because I didn't follow the golden rule of eating fresh vegetables and seafood. Keep it simple. M's salmon dish did just that. Grilled vegetables, sauteed salmon, and rice. There was no additional sauce, just the oil and liquid released from the vegetables and aromatics. Simple flavors and simple preparation turned into full and rich flavor. My mahi mahi was heavier because of the beurre blanc, but it was still surprisingly light. The mashed potatoes and gorgonzola were very heavy, though. Still, the flavors were big and bold, and it was a very enjoyable dish.

Finally we got to dessert. One of my most favorite desserts in the whole world is key lime pie. Lahaina Grill doesn't offer a key lime pie, though. Instead, they have the Iao Valley Lime Tart.

Iao Valley Lime Tart

We discovered this dessert on our first trip ever to Lahaina Grill. Iao Valley is a fertile valley in the northern, central area of Maui. They apparently grow limes that taste basically the exact same as key limes but just more concentrated in flavor. The crust is also not a traditional graham cracker crust. It's a macadamia nut graham cracker crust. The mac nuts make it even richer in flavor, and the filling is just like an amazing key lime pie but so much fresher and lighter somehow. It's so good that I'm almost 100% certain that it would make my top 10 dishes of all time list if I were to make one.

Lahaina Grill is a fantastic restaurant. The only drawback is that it's not a cheap restaurant. If you're looking for an amazing meal full of fresh, clean flavors then we definitely recommend Lahaina Grill. The food and service will blow you away.

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