After a few late Sunday breakfast excursions I knew I loved the banana mac nut pancakes; I’d also spent a couple of afternoons bellied up at the bar. But until last weekend I’d never done dinner at Stella Blues. Now I’m sorry I waited so long.
Despite its spacious interior and ample outdoor seating, Stella’s location—in the back corner of the Azeka Shopping Center in Kihei—makes the restaurant easy to miss from South Kihei Road. Fortunately, from its early days as a small, lovably quirky lunch and breakfast outfit to the current South Maui incarnation, Stella’s has gained enough of a reputation to motivate patrons to seek it out.
After ordering a round of sippables (the mai tais are tall and generous on the active ingredients) and admiring the festive holiday décor, we turned our attention to the menu. It quickly became apparent that the challenge was going to be narrowing it down to just a few choices. Stella’s is the kind of place that’s both good and bad for people who aren’t sure what they want. Good because the options run the gamut; bad because, well, the options run the gamut.
After a prolonged deliberation I settled on the grilled pork chop. Served with caramelized onions and mashed potatoes, it was everything a good pork chop should be—tender, moist and flavorful.
My companions sampled a range of options. The macadamia nut-crusted mahi got high marks, as did the New York steak, which has the added distinction of being Maui-grown beef. For non-carnivorous types, the veggie stir-fry with tofu and rice is a flavorful alternative; it made the grade with my wife, a sort of sometimes vegetarian who knows a good meatless option when she tastes it.
Backing up a bit, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Eyes of the World roll, an appetizer you should try no matter what entrée is set to follow. Ahi, cucumber, spinach and rice are wrapped in panko sprinkled nori, fried to a crisp and augmented by a Thai chili aioli dipping sauce. The portion—as with all the other dishes—is ample, but there still won’t be enough to go around. So order two.
Dessert was a pair of dishes shared among four, the best our full bellies could muster. The Kona coffee ice cream sandwich with whipped cream and caramel sauce is as enticing as that description would suggest, but the winner in my eyes (and, judging by how fast it disappeared, a couple of my dining mates’ as well) was the Bananas Foster. It’s a bold statement, but—with hints of rum tangoing with two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a pool of pure gooey goodness—that was perhaps the best banana-based dish I’ve had on-island.
I may have taken my sweet time sitting down for dinner at Stella’s, but it’s a safe bet I’ll be back sooner than later. See you there. MTW