Three’s Bar & Grill
Kihei Kalama Village, 1945 S. Kihei Rd., 879-3133
Lunch: Noon-4pm; dinner: 5-10pm; closed Tuesdays
When Bada Bing closed down at the end of 2008 it was the end of a slow, expected death. Yet I always felt the location was promising. Tucked into the South end of Kihei Kalama Village, the building has a lot of character, with a wide-open Lanai area that offers views of the action on South Kihei Road, and a cozy indoor space with a big lounge in the back. So I was happy to hear some young chefs with a lot of big ideas were re-opening the spot as Three’s Bar & Grill.
The trio started out as Three’s Catering, doing some big events like Shane Victorino’s wedding and a few personal chef gigs, then decided to take it to the next step and quit their day jobs. According to Jaron Blosser, one of the chefs and the general manager: “We have three different backgrounds in culinary arts. Our idea here is to bring something to Maui that is not really being done here, but keep it simple enough to fit on one menu. There’s a good range of items here, something for everyone. I really wanted the raw bar element because no one is doing that.”
The eclectic combination of cuisines includes Hawaiian, Southwestern and Pacific Rim. Blosser’s specialty is Pacific Rim, Cody Christopher brings the Southwestern and Maui boy Travis Morrin is the Hawaiian influence.
My recent visit to the restaurant for dinner revealed elegant plates of food, prepared expertly. The restaurant has improved the ambiance since the Bada Bing days, with fresh, warm-hued paint and gorgeous tiger bamboo flooring. The fresh-caught mahi mahi comes with a cucumber and mac nut relish that’s reminiscent of kim chee and gives the flaky fish a nice crunch. The honey saffron-marinated salmon with curried rice pilaf also stole my taste buds’ attention. The pilaf is sublime in flavor and texture, a perfectly paired starch that does not compete with the flavorful salmon.
There’s a lot of avocado throughout the menu, used in relishes, salsas, salads and sushi. There’s also a raw bar, and flatbreads made with organic whole wheat. The Southwestern elements are revealed in the Cajun seasonings and the signature Three’s big wave crab boil that serves two. This is a seafood dish you won’t soon forget: mussels, crab, jumbo prawns and clams all getting cozy with Portuguese sausage, whole red potatoes and ears of corn in a Cajun-inspired broth. Broccoli rabe graces the grouping, adding a tender green element. All the seafood was wonderful and the broth brought some powerful flavor to the delicate shellfish. I found the whole potatoes and ears of corn a bit large to negotiate with a fork, so I focused on beating the boys at the table to the seafood.
Oh and why not, let’s tack on an oyster tasting. Choices at the raw bar include penncoves and kumamoto. Penncoves I’m familiar with, and they were large and delicious here, their briny flavors dancing with a housemade wasabi cocktail. Kumamotos are smaller and have a deep-cupped shell with a plump, less fishy oyster. Both are grown in farms on the Northwest coast.
While the restaurant is planning to get their liquor license, for now it’s BYOB. Plans for developing the back area of the restaurant into a cushy lounge are also underway, and could be up and running in mid-April. Blosser, Christopher and Morrin say they’re excited to create a new social gathering area for South Maui—live music on the deck on Wednesdays is already part of the dinner hour.