They’re everywhere. Maui is absolutely inundated with them.
I’m talking about fine dining restaurants that serve Pacific Rim-esque cuisine with a sophisticated, tropical ambience and a high-dollar menu. You know the kind. They’re award winning. They feature celebrity chefs. They’re written about in all the gourmet magazines. And they come highly recommended by concierges and travel agents worldwide.
But unless it’s your birthday or the family’s visiting—in other words, when you’re not paying—chances are you haven’t been to one in a while.
David Paul’s Lahaina Grill is one of those establishments. Although they label their cuisine “New American,” Chef Arnulfo Gonzalez favors local fish and a noticeable Asian flair in dishes like the sauteed Opakapaka with caramelized shiitake mushrooms, the Maui onion and sesame seed crusted seared ahi, or the crispy Shanghai spring rolls.
They’ve won numerous awards, including Best Maui Restaurant in the Honolulu Magazine readers’ poll for the past 13 years. Entrees range from $26 to $43. And reservations are damn near required. But one thing you may not know, David Paul’s has seasonal discounts. Yay!
Starting in April and continuing through mid-December, from Sunday through Thursday nights David Paul’s features a “Demi Menu” for people—like myself—who dine at the bar. It’s sort of like a sample menu of their signature goods, at half the price, which is great because you can try a lot of different things, and more casually.
Kona coffee roasted rack of lamb, four-cheese manicotti, grilled salmon fillet with sauteed spinach, Kula asparagus, broiled Hau’ula tomatoes and vanilla bean jasmine rice—you can have it all, at demi-portion and price.
Personally, I enjoy eating at the bar because you don’t need a reservation, you don’t have to stare at your date across the table and try to make awkward conversation (thankfully, that’s what the bartender’s for) and, well, the drinks are right there. Yay again!
Speaking of drinks—and you know I have to—the wine list is extraordinary (over 350 selections!). The cocktails, while tropically inclined, are like none other you’d find on Maui. Blame it on their new sommelier, Richard Olson III, and bartendresses supreme, Mary Swiger, Annabehl Sinclair and Tara Thomas. While Olson deftly points out what glass goes well with Chef Arnie’s meatballs, the bar crew will dazzle you with their Colada Martini rimmed in toasted coconut.
Every so often, David Paul’s will also have a month of “Kama’aina Tuesdays,” where locals—gotta show Hawai’i I.D.—get 50 percent off any entree. Translated, that means the macadamia nut smoked Kurobuta pork chop with Poblano chili and Dungeness crab golden potato hash, picked red cabbage and apples with a pomegranate demi-glace would be a mere $18. The oven roasted chicken breast filled with upcountry mushrooms, braised apples, Kula spinach, smoked Mozzarella, wrapped in pancetta and served on tomato risotto with Madeira wine jus? A fabulously un-intimidating $14.50.
Anyway, their next slated “Kama’aina Tuesdays” month is in May.
Hopefully, this also means my dinner dates will be decidedly more—shall we say—genteel? Ahem.
Another great thing about the bar is that you can also dine alone. MTW