My roommate Brooke and I often get suspicious looks when we show our ID’s to bartenders and servers and they see we were born on the same day. This was the case the other night when we decided to celebrate our birthday at I’o in Lahaina. We picked I’o because of the oceanfront dining and reputation for outstanding pan-Pacific cuisine.
Sunset is the best time to dine at I’o but we opted for a later dinner that could also serve as a pre-party to the rest of our evening. Soon after being seated, we kicked off the evening with a round of Cosmopolitans. After chatting for a few minutes about life on Maui, our server wished us each a happy birthday and then asked if we had any food allergies.
It wasn’t long before she returned with two strong and tangy Cosmos. We browsed the menu while discussing our plans for the rest of the night. Since everything looked so good, we decided an array of appetizers was the best way to cover the most ground.
The Mad Hatter ($10) was one of the first dishes to arrive. Sauteed scallops, mushrooms, chilies in a lobster coconut curry sauce and puff pastry covered the elegantly decorated plate. The scallops and mushrooms were tender and cooked perfectly. Brooke and I thought the coconut curry sauce was a bit rich but it was still delicious.
The other dish was a Macadamia Brie Salad ($10), consisting of Kula greens, poached Asian pear and Macadamia crusted brie pieces, all tossed in a Dragon fruit sugar cane dressing. The brie chunks looked and tasted like fried wantons with a creamy filling. The poached pear pieces were soft, but not mushy and complimented the greens and dressing well.
Although our first round of appetizers was good, our second round was to die for. We split the I’o Crab Cake ($12.50) and the O’o Beets ($8). The crunchy, meaty, panko crab cake came atop a creamy goat cheese patty, smothered in a tangy garlic aioli and surrounded by a refreshing green papaya slaw. And the roasted red, white and golden beets were tossed with feta cheese, pine nuts and served in a thin crispy shell. To say they were delicious doesn’t do justice to either dish.
When we were through eating, we sipped another round of Cosmos, giving our stomachs a chance to digest. While we enjoyed our drinks and the ocean view, we thought back on all the years we’d been friends.
After our gushy girl moment, it was time for some chocolate. While I’o offers several chocolate desserts to choose from, we already knew I’o’s famous and decadent Chocolate Pate ($8.50) was the perfect way to conclude our meal.
The creamy chocolate fudge is served with a passion fruit anglaise and fresh island berries. When all was said and done we left I’o full, happy, a little tipsy, and ready to do some serious celebrating. MTW