KAPALUA - How long has it been since you've visited Pineapple Grill at The Bay Course in Kapalua Resort? This is a great time to take a weekend break and check out what's happening at The Grill.
I recently visited with Chris Kaiwi, vice president and managing partner of Pineapple Grill, who shared news about a new menu and promotion for the bar.
"We wanted to bring new excitement to the bar and make it fun, so we created a winning recipe of eight new pupu dishes with eight craft cocktails and eight wines by the glass, all for $8. They're served after 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday," explained Chris.
Bartenders Dax Underdown (left) and Cameron Pickar show off new handcrafted cocktails: Cucumber Lychee Collins, Oranje Cosmopolitan, Strawberry Balsamic Lemonade and Yuzu Lychee Martini. PHOTOS BY KAREE CARLUCCI.
Three key people were involved in developing the 8-8-8 menus: Pineapple Grill Chef de Cuisine Aaron Palone, who recently came to the restaurant after working at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua with Executive Chef JoJo Vasquez; Tony Guerrero, wine director for Pineapple Grill; and Chandra Lucariello, director of mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii.
I attended one of Chandra's mixology classes this summer and was impressed by her use of fresh, local ingredients and attention to detail in building a handcrafted cocktail. She makes sure her cocktails are well balanced, using four elements: sweet, bitter, sour and, of course, spirits. The menu she and Pineapple Grill's bartenders have put together is a tribute to true handcrafted cocktails.
My favorite was the Strawberry Balsamic Lemonade. This drink is built with Ketel One vodka, strawberry puree, fresh lemon juice, balsamic glaze with simple syrup and a dash of ground black pepper. It's not too sweet - refreshingly tart with the added spice tones of light balsamic and pepper. A real summertime favorite that works year-round in the tropics is the Cucumber Lychee Collins. It starts with Ketel One citroen vodka, lychee puree, muddled cucumber, sweet-n-sour and a splash of club soda.
If you prefer a dark spirit, try the Ginger Rogers. Dickel's #12 Tennessee whiskey is combined with Elixir G ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, lehua blossom honey and club soda. It's a modern twist on a classic cocktail, as is the new GNT. Pineapple Grill uses Tanqueray gin with fresh ruby red grapefruit, lime, and a splash of Angostura bitters finished with tonic.
Chef Aaron's pupu menu is well-matched with the light, flavorful cocktails and crisp, fruit forward wines.
Chris said, "We stayed with Pacific Island and Asian flavors. Aaron loves Thailand cuisine and incorporates Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese ingredients in these dishes."
I started with a delightful Asian Crab Guacamole. The chunky avocado was blended with shredded crab, topped with grated cheese and served with crispy won tons and a side of pineapple salsa. Then I was treated to Kalua Pork Potstickers, which were lightly grilled and perfectly paired with Vietnamese nuoc cham dipping sauce.
For a new take on manapua, Chef Aaron features Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly slices in a Chinese steamed bun layered with julienned carrots, chives and cilantro. He serves two buns with a small pail of French fries on a wooden plank. He fills Waipoli Farms Butter Lettuce Wraps with Shiitake mushroom and pork hash, which you can dip into a delicious chili-mint peanut sauce. On the lighter side, the chef offers a Caprese Salad with baby tomatoes and mozzarella layered in a martini glass between li hing mui radishes, macadamia nut pesto and Maui olive oil. Blending Mediterranean and Asian styles with island ingredients is a wonderful idea.
Wine aficionados will appreciate Tony's selections of four California white wines, including a sparkling brut, Fume Blanc, Chardonnay and a Chenin Blanc-Viognier. Four red wines range from a Columbia Valley Merlot to Sonoma Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Chilean Carmenere Reserve. Each glass of wine is only $8.
But that's not all there is to experience on weekend nights at The Grill ... the lounge and lanai come alive with music by outstanding island musicians between 6 and 9 p.m. Enjoy jazz fusion with Fulton Tashombe and Friends on Thursday, the acoustic island soul of Danyel Alana on Friday, and contemporary Hawaiian music by Alika Nako'oka and Eddee Sebala on Saturday.
Pineapple Grill offers a getaway place to hang out with friends on the lanai overlooking the scenic golf greens. Get an early start for sunset and watch the tall Cook Pines light up with golden rays, often accompanied by a rainbow. Or dress up for a date night and take a seat along the black marble bar in cool, air-conditioned comfort.
"We're creating a good vibe here; it's a great place to gather," Chris remarked. "This is the 'Cheers' bar of Kapalua."
Try it this weekend. For more information, call 669-9600 or visit pineapplekapalua.com.