When the Sheraton Maui decided to change its restaurant options a few years ago, they took a smart approach: they asked the guests. The consensus was steak and seafood, and in October, 2007 they opened the Black Rock Steak and Seafood Restaurant. Executive Chef Brian Ashlock created the menu, which takes elements of American steakhouse cuisine and pairs them with Pacific Rim. The result is a genuinely infused interpretation of the two.
Now, Black Rock is offering 50 percent off for kama‘aina on all food items through March. How good of a deal is it? It means you can order a signature bone-in ribeye for $23, or lobster tail for just $18. The dining room is open-air and elegant; grab a table on the lanai and listen to the waves crashing against Kaanapali beach. Parking is easy; self park in the structure and validate for $1.
With more than 75 bottles of wine and about a dozen available by the glass, each section of the menu offers suggested pairings. The starter Black Rock pizza features Maui’s own Surfing Goat Dairy goat cheese along with locally grown veggies and kalamata olives and mac nut pesto. The crab wontons feature a smooth, savory crab mousse interior, crisp wonton crust and a spicy chili jus for dipping. I had to try their traditional onion soup, something I order everywhere I go. The ceramic dish arrives piping hot, with a lid of melted cheese on top and an underbelly of beef-broth-soaked bread and caramelized onion. The result is sweet, crusty, soggy and delightful.
The ribeye is served with a choice of sauces and flavor options. “The steaks are simply seasoned with Hawaiian and Kosher salts and ground whole black pepper,” explains Executive Sous-Chef Conrad Aquino. “Then we sear the ribeye on the hottest area of the grill to seal in juices and flavor the beef before moving it to a cooler area to bring the steak to its optimum temperature. Finally, the ribeye gets a moment to rest to reabsorb the juices and flavor.”
Another masterful dish is the seafood cioppino, featuring spiny lobster, tiger shrimp, scallops, mahi and crab served on your choice of linguini or mac nut pilaf. It features a broth with a hint of fennel, saffron and Pernod; I wasn’t sure about a licoricey taste on my seafood, but it works well—neither overpowering nor underwhelming.
The Black Rock steak and seafood filet with petit lobster tail is simple and excellent. “Less is more,” Aquino says. “By keeping it simple we can focus on a three- to four-component dish. A perfect whipped garlic mashed potato, a perfect grilled asparagus, a beautiful piece of steak or grilled fish. Each component must stand out on its own.”
Stand on their own they do. And when you’re dining for half off, everything tastes a little bit sweeter.
WINE, BUBBLY AND FREE FLAPJACKS
We’ve been hearing a lot about belt-tightening lately, but the end of February and beginning of March are a time for all of us to loosen our belts. Beginning this Sunday (February 27), you’ll have a rare opportunity to see the chefs of Ruth’s Chris step out of their usual menu and offer a five-course paired dinner with the exquisite and highly rated Duckhorn wines. Look forward to a Chinese-style snapper with the Migration chardonnay and the New Zealand lamb with the Duckhorn merlot, which wine enthusiasts are raving about. Dinner is $85 per person; call 661-8815 for reservations.
Hold on tight, ’cause the next evening (February 28) marks the Vineyard Dining Series at David Paul’s, a four-course dinner with passed pupus at the reception and champagne pairings. Chef David always amazes with his creativity and groundbreaking cuisine; a little birdie tells me we might be enjoying oysters with champagne sorbet. Some of the bubbly that will be popped: Tattinger, Nicolas Feuillatte, Vilmart and Piper Hiedseik. The dinner will be hosted by Sommelier Mark Du Mez. Price is $125 per person, but diva discounts will apply. Call 662-3000 to reserve.
On Tuesday (March 1), nurse that decadent hangover with free buttermilk pancakes at IHOP to honor Pancake Day. That’s right, free flapjacks all day, 7am-10pm. It’s a charity event, so chip
in with a donation to Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children. Last year the event raised $2 million for children’s hospitals nationwide—this year the goal is $2.5 million.