You can tell a lot about someone by the choices they make. Especially if they are choices made during dinner on a first date. More tellingly, if that first date happens to take place at Lahaina Store Grille & Oyster Bar.
The first decision is an important one and sets the tone for the rest of our evening: where to sit? The most obvious choice would be to dine on the roof, with its spectacular, under-the-stars ambience and glimmering views of the Auau Channel, Lanai and Lahaina Harbor. But that’s maybe a little too over-the-top romantic for a first date.
We could sit inside the expansive dining room, with its plush decor and centrally located, all-glass exhibition kitchen and bake shop. But that’s maybe too distracting for this initial getting-to-know-you scenario. We opted instead for the casual comfort and proximity to liquor at the enticing 47-foot raw oyster bar.
Right away, my date showed his confidence with the menu by putting in an order for their ahi poke—one of his favorites, he said—before our bartender even had a chance to acquaint us with the specials. After being informed of the six selections of oysters available, my date chose the medium-point, meaty oysters from Washington over the highly recommended, sweeter ones from Japan.
A bold, impressive move—one that proved to be in my date’s favor as the oysters and poke were some of the best I’d had recently. Apparently realizing his knack with successful ordering, my date also suggested we have the Tellicherry-pepper-crusted ahi drizzled with wasabi aioli. The pepper gave a unique and crunchy kick to the melt-in-your-mouth quality of the seared ahi. I was swooning.
But the hardest decision was yet to come—the entree. LSG&OB offers an eclectic array of Euro-American fare with a Pac-Rim influence that’s big on seafood and interesting combinations. And the choices are tough, with items like coriander-cumin-crusted ahi with stirfried vegetables served atop saffron risotto and wasabi butter.
Or the orange-dusted jumbo prawns over butternut squash ravioli with brown-butter sage vinaigrette. Who could resist the cashew-coconut-crusted opakapaka on habanero mashed potatoes with papaya jam chutney?
Of course, aside from the surf there’s also turf options, like the firecracker-glazed lamb chops or slow-roasted, double-cut Mongolian pork chops served with braised red cabbage and mustard demi. Or there’s also grilled tenderloin served with Cambozola cheese, caramelized onions, roasted shallot mashed potatoes and a house-made Worcestershire sauce.
But my date, already proving himself to be a man with a propensity to go against the grain, lingered over the fresh semolina pasta selection. Would it be the lobster ravioli or linguine with clams, jumbo prawns and Portuguese sausage in roasted tomato jus? Perhaps the fettuccine with grilled chicken, shiitake mushrooms, crispy pancetta and julienne snow peas? Not this time.
With a calm, assured finesse, my date quietly shut his menu and ordered the potato gnocchi with country ham, shiitake mushrooms, English peas and fresh tomatoes in a light cream sauce. Although at first I thought this dish sounded somewhat less dazzling than the others, in actuality it tasted like a bowl of frosted doughnuts—a good thing for someone like me, who would eat a bowl of frosted doughnuts for dinner every night.
In the end, I can’t really tell you what all this means about my companion and our first date. But I do know that I am ready for a second date—with Lahaina Store Grille & Oyster Bar. MTW