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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.