When I set out to review the new Lulu’s in Lahaina I had a tough time deciding what hour of the day to go. Breakfast, with all of its sweet, syrupy connotations, is by far my favorite meal and the Lulu’s menu offers some very creative variations on the standard morning fare. Pricier dinner menus are typically the most sophisticated way to figure out if a restaurant is worthwhile. But I went looking for inspiration at lunchtime—a difficult time to please the palate and the wallet simultaneously—on the hunt for a good sandwich.
Actually, I put lunch off until three o’clock so that I could get a stiff cocktail, too, without feeling like too much of a lush.
The bar is the first thing you notice when you walk through the door. It’s enormous, and one way or another you have to walk around it to find a seat. There are some sunny tables outside on the patio, but sadly the best Lulu’s can do for a view is the hustle and bustle of the Safeway parking lot. Inside is where the atmosphere is. Tiki décor and surf memorabilia decorate the walls all the way up to the high ceiling, giving the room a much beachier feel than its location would indicate. Pro surfers are catching an endless wave on the 12 or so flat-screen TVs around the restaurant and in the rear of the room in a plush, inviting corner two beautiful pool tables promise hours of entertainment.
My booth, a high-backed circular bench, could have comfortably sat seven or eight, but it was just my boyfriend and me. Our server, like seemingly everyone working there, was ultra laid back, which made for a relaxing, unhurried vibe. He suggested we start with a couple of Sandy Margaritas from the cocktail list and we happily obliged.
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in tequila heaven with this top-shelf concoction that came with Patron, Gran Marnier and Li Hing Mui sea foam. It sounds strange, and this was definitely the first time I’ve had foam on a cocktail, but it was sweet and frothy and went down smooth. The boyfriend suspected they put something a little more addicting in there, since as soon as we’d finished the first we were craving another, but our server assured us it was just ingenuity mixed with perfectly legal ingredients.
I said I came in hunting for a sandwich, but we struggled to get past the pupus. Seriously, there were so many appetizers that sounded, um, appetizing that we considered just making a lunch out of four or five of them. For the sake of journalistic thoroughness, however, we decided on two appetizers, a salad and one entrée to share.
The first thing we tried was the Honolulu Hot Tuna, which turned out to be a force to be reckoned with. A very generous amount of Cajun spiced ahi came just barely seared, on top of a spicy veggie salad of marinated cucumbers, onion and tomatoes.
Our mouths on fire, we moved on to the Cane Fire Chicken skewers, which normally wouldn’t be something we’d order but did because our server’s eyes lit up like candles when he recommended it. We understood the emotion when we bit into the sweetest, most moist and tender bites of chicken smothered in a hoisin-ginger glaze and sprinkled with chili oil. While I savored one the boyfriend devoured three, and we contemplated getting another order.
We moved on to a refreshing salad dubbed Da North Shore, with crunchy chopped lettuce, Maui onions, Olowalu tomatoes, artichoke hearts, grilled avocado, feta cheese, shrimp and a caper vinaigrette.
We were pretty much full when our entrée arrived. We had contemplated getting a sandwich or even a burger, but when our eyes fell on the flatbread selections the deal was sealed. They might as well have named the sausage, pepper and onion flatbread the and Jessica,” because those are pretty much our favorite flavors. I was expecting something a little, well, flatter than what arrived, which was basically a personal pizza, but one bite of spicy sausage and sweet red peppers and I didn’t care much about the dimensions.
We skipped dessert, but only because two margaritas in the middle of the day seemed decadent enough. MTW