KAPALUA - Perched high above the championship golf course in Kapalua, the Plantation House Restaurant has provided both visitors and kama'aina singular dining experiences for more than two decades. Overlooking the sea with the "Friendly Isle" of Molokai in the distance, the Plantation House offers one of the most spectacular sunsets of any restaurant on Maui.
Recently, the restaurant went through a major face-lift. The result is a comfortable Maui style, where everyone feels welcome and attended to. Besides the two large fireplaces crackling with warmth, the restaurant boasts Maui's most spectacular wine cooler. It's actually a glass-enclosed, climate-controlled room where 1,000 bottles from their award-winning wine list rest enticingly awaiting thirsty diners. The restaurant has received awards from the Wine Spectator for its wine list for 15 years.
The spacious dining room is set up in such a way that every seating area feels private. The high back woven chairs provide comfort, support and Maui style for the diners. However, if you want the maximum sunset experience, call for a front row ocean view table.
The spacious dining room is set up in such a way that every seating area feels private. Photo by The Plantation House.
Long time Executive Chef/Partner Alexander J. Stanislaw Jr. is joined in the kitchen by Chef de Cuisine Maro Gjurasic. The menu is an exciting fusion of Pacific-Rim - fresh Maui fruit, fish and produce - with a Mediterranean touch. My guest and I sampled two starters and two salads. All were artistically presented and set up one's palate deliciously for the sumptuous entrees.
The Sweet and Spicy Hawaiian Style Prawns sauted in shoyu, chili, garlic and honey with 12 herbs and spices are a party for one's taste buds. The garnish, a local slaw of carrots, Napa cabbage, pea-shoots, cilantro, a splash of calamansi and fish sauce, is on a separate plate and is a nice counterpoint to the rich and spicy sauce on the prawns. Be sure to get some bread to sop up the sauce!
Seared sashimi, fashioned loosely after Chinese steamed fish, is another starter sure to please.
We started with a glass of Domaine St. Michelle brut. We asked Dining Room Manager Nathan Mau to recommend something for the rest of the meal. Since we started with bubbles, we thought it best to stick with them. Mau brought a bottle of Marques de Gelida Cava, Butterfly Brut, a Spanish sparkler that was crisp, effervescent and very brut - the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the meal.
I am a tomato snob. I don't eat tomatoes unless they are fresh and never refrigerated. Chef Alex assured me the Tomato Carpaccio would pass my muster, and he was so correct. The Olowalu yellow beefsteak tomatoes with shaved Pecorino Romano, Haiku arugula and extra virgin olive oil were the essence of simplicity and brimming with flavor. My guest had the roasted beet salad with Noel Escobedo's tomatoes, local beets, Evanouk Farms basil and a mix of Laura Chanel goat cheese and sheep's milk feta. The beets were such a treat that the tomatoes were almost superfluous.
If one is in Hawaii, then the choice of an entre is simple. It has to be fish. Chef Alex has at least two and sometimes three fresh (caught within a day) fish. They had ono and mahi mahi. They always have ahi. There are six different preparations available. I chose the Ono Maui Style. This was pistachio crusted and served on Maui onions, Kula tomatoes and Upcountry spinach with Mediterranean couscous. Chef recommends it medium rare. It was moist, sweet, and each tender morsel slid effortlessly onto the fork - an indication of a perfect preparation.
My guest chose the Seared Ahi in the style of Nice on arugula, pole beans, organic tomatoes, fingerling potatoes and olives with a citrus oil vinaigrette. It was divine.
For dessert, we shared the chocolate flourless cake with raspberry coulis and pot de creme au chocolat and a chocolate straw. It was a mouthwatering close to a world-class meal.
Chefs Alex and Maro use as much Maui grown and organically raised produce as they can. Much of what the diner enjoys is grown at Kapalua Farms. For vegetarians, the fish preparations can substitute tofu for the fish, and they will leave out any animal protein.
The Plantation House serves breakfast from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and they have six different Eggs Benedict preparations. The cafe menu in the lounge is available from 3 to 5:30 p.m. daily, and dinner will be served from 6 to 9 p.m. through Sept. 14. Call 669-6299 for reservations.