Anna’s Foodie Reviews

March 7, 2007

The Plantation House

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 9:53 pm

The Plantation House, located in Kapalua, at the Plantation Golf Course on West Maui is a true dining gem. We have visited every year that we have stayed on Maui. We have recommend it to everyone that we know who visits Maui. My cousin proposed to his wife there! This restaurant was made for special occasions. There is usually an intimate bridal party celebrating a Hawaiian wedding in the dining room when you visit. All the tables look out upon the ocean and golf course from floor to ceiling French windows. It is always a good idea to book your table at sunset, because it is one of the best views on the island. There is a gorgeous stone fireplace in the middle of the room. All this praise and I havn’t even mentioned the food yet!

The Plantation House opened in 1991 under Chef Alex Stanislaw. I saw him on “Great Chefs, Great Cities” (what can I say, I don’t watch soaps like other house wives) and I knew that I wanted to visit his restaurant. And visit I did. Every year, we save the Plantation House for our Friday night meal, because we know that we will not be disappointed. This year was even more perfect, because I met the Rock Star himself, Chef Alex! Oh, let me tell you about the food first.

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Fresh Island Sashimi

Tom always starts with the Ahi Sashimi, he says it is the best tasting on the island. It is always the deepest red color and so flavorful. I have come to appreciate really good sashimi, and this is wonderful.

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Leroy’s Arugula Salad

 I started with  a fresh and flavorful salad, Leroy’s Arugula Salad with Asian Pear, Spiced Walnuts, and a Lemon Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette. So good! I can also attest to the wonderful taste of their other salads. They are all great.

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A Taste of Venice

Every night at the Plantation house, they offer their fresh catches done in a variety of different ways. We have probably tried all of them. On this visit, Tom had the fresh caught Opakapaka done in “A Taste of Venice.” The fish is panko pressed and served on shrimp, asparagus, sugar peas and Orzo, finished with golden raisin-pine nut brown butter. It was delicious and done perfectly.

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The Fish Special

I had the fish special, Panko Crusted Hawaiian catch on wilted Kula Spinich, Winter Mushroom and Pacific Shrimp Salad, with a Brown Butter-Balsamic Vinaigrette. It was so good! I loved it.

We had the best server, and I’m sorry to say I forgot his name. He was fun and very well informed. He recommended a bottle of Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon. He also taught me the greatest tricks with corks! I even won a dessert off him when I mastered one of the tricks.

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My Prize!

Every visit to the Plantation House has been a great experience, but this year, as we were leaving, I stopped to ask the hostess if I could copy down the menu items that we ordered, so that I could ” journal” the meal. I really needed it for my blog. At the hostess stand was Chef Alex. He starts telling me that all I need to do is start with brown butter and good fish. I turned into a full blown groupie! “You’re Chef Alex, I saw you on TV… you’re a rock star…can I take a picture with you?…” He was so nice and took the time to talk to me and I got my photo!

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Me and Chef Alex

If you are visiting Maui soon, eat at the Plantation House, enjoy the views and the wonderful dining experience, and tell Chef Alex that Anna says Hello!

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March 6, 2007

pacific’O

Filed under: 2 Stars,3 Stars,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 8:39 pm

Once upon a time, all those many years ago, I watched Chef James McDonald on “Great Chefs, Great Cities”. He prepared a beautiful dish and I made sure that pacific’Os was one of our first stops on our trip to Maui. Tom and I were not impressed enough with our meal for a return visit the next year. We have tried this award winning restaurant since then, and still, we were not real impressed. This year we decided to give it one last shot.

We had 7:00 reservations, and arrived at 6:55. The hostess at the front had seen too many episodes of Sex and the City. She apparently thought that she could yield her power over guests like the hostesses in the hot spots of Manhattan. There was no one else around, and plenty of open tables. She informed us that she would come find us at 7:00, “when your reservation is”. OK- we had a seat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine when, at 7:02, she graced us with a table. I don’t expect royal treatment or special favors, but in Hawaii, I expect a smile, an “Aloha”, and just some pleasant Island treatment. We did not see a hint of any of these things.

This evening was slow at the restaurant, due to the unfriendly weather, so there was only 2 servers. We got our orders in a timely manner, but did not see much of our wait person.

I will say that pacific’Os has the most beautiful presentation of it’s dishes. The plates are fun and funky with lots of bold color. It is very pleasing to the eye.

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Prawn Won Ton

I started with the Won Tons. These have won awards at the Taste of Lahaina. A large prawn and basil are wrapped in a won ton, deep fried and served with a spicy sweet and sour sauce and Hawaiian salsa. The won ton were very heavy with oil. The Prawn was good, and the sauce was nice.

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Yuzu Divers

Tom had the Yuza Divers. These crispy coconut rice rolls with seared diver scallops, arugula pesto and zesty yuzu lime sauce won Best in Show at the Taste of Lahaina in 2001. This dish was beautiful and the scallops were done well. There was a whole lot of extra stuff going on with the plate, which was a little distracting.

pacific’Os has it’s own organic and bio-dynamic farm upcountry, near Kula. O’o Farms supplies all the fresh, local produce for pacific’O, it’s sister restaurant, I’O and The Feast at Lele. So, with this in mind, we did try the house salad. Tender greens garnished with Bleu cheese and bacon crumbles, with a soy citrus vinaigrette. It was very nice and fresh.

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Roast Rack
Tom’s main course was the Roast Rack. A tahini and tamarind seasoned New Zealand spring lamb, fresh mint demi and roasted garlic aioli accent. I’m sorry, but again, not fabulous. The bite of it that I had tasted very burnt! I think the spices were burnt. And so many competing flavors…just too much.

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Ono

My fish dish was not any better. I had the nightly special, an Ono marinated in balsamic vinaigrette, grilled and served on black and white jasmine rice, with asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms and basil relish. So many competing flavors and none stood out. The Ono was dry and over cooked. It could have used salt, but we did not have any on our table. (Looking around, other tables did have salt and pepper, ours was just missing.)

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Banana Pinneapple Lumpia

Tom had the Banana Pinneapple Lumpia for dessert. This, he enjoyed. Banana, pineapple and creme cheese puree in flaky pastry served with homemade ice cream. It reminded him of banana’s foster, one of his favorites.
All in all, I’d say we won’t be returning to pacific’O. Three strikes and you’re out. We have never been to I’O, but I have the feeling it would be very similar, having the same chef and vision. The dishes have too many flavors and things going on to be able to really enjoy anything. I feel that in a truly great meal, the dishes are simplistic in flavors that are matched perfectly in taste.

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