Dinner & a show

Are you looking for a stellar date-night suggestion? Maui Film Festival at Wailea’s new Seaside Cinema Music Cafe & Sunset Lounge will screen five of this summer’s most buzzworthy films June 4 to 8 oceanfront at Grand Wailea.

Bring your appetites, as you will you be able to indulge in beer, wine, cocktails and picnic fare at the venue. Or, you may ramp it up, come early when the Grand’s restaurants open, and dine on special pre-fixe feasts.

On June 4 at 7:30 p.m., Maui’s legendary Shep Gordon will get the Maverick Award; and on June 7, Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o of “12 Years A Slave” will be honored with the Rainmaker Award.

Emma Roberts (niece of Oscar-winner Julia Roberts) will get the Shining Star Award on June 5. Evan Rachel Wood, the Nova Award on June 6 – all under the stars at Seaside Cinema. Your date will be impressed.

Of course, you can take it over the top with a romantic meal for two at Grand Wailea’s Humuhumunukunukuapua’a restaurant, situated in the middle of million-gallon saltwater lagoon. Like a floating island, it’s got thatched roofs, ohia wood, waterfalls and splashing fish.

In fact, Islands magazine has named it “Best Table for Two” and “Most Romantic Table.”

But even with all of the ambient bells and whistles, it’s really Chef de Cuisine Michael Lofaro’s new menu that steals the show. Lofaro is a protege of acclaimed chef Michael Mina of Aqua fame. On a recent evening, I savored some of the dishes, and let me tell you, each and every one was a superstar in taste and presentation.

Lofaro’s Seaside Cinema three-course pre-fixe meal costs $100 for four courses, including tax and tip. His starters are seared dayboat scallops with crispy parsnip-potato cake, citrus segments and basil; and Hamakua tomatoes and boquerones (fresh anchovies of Spanish tapas genre) in ginger water on grilled crostini with green onion.

Entrees range from seared ahi and foie gras dumpling with stir fried mushrooms and snow peas in Vietnamese pho-inspired broth; and brioche-and-lemongrass crusted rack of lamb with Asian ratatouille and black-bean sauce. Dessert is tangerine creme brulee with rooftop honey, shiso ice cream and baked chocolate truffle.

“It’s a pretheater inspired menu,” says Lofaro. “You come, you eat, and then you walk a couple of hundred feet away to watch the movie.”

Bistro Molokini will feature a three-course menu for $45 per person, including tax and tip. Begin with noodles from the Iwatani Natto Factory on Maui aromatic in double broth with kalua pork, local veggies and egg; or grilled Kumu Farms kale salad with Caesar dressing.

Revel in the poolside, oceanfront and open-air venue and choose from grilled Berkshire pork tenderloin on mascarpone risotto; or Hawaiian scampi on linguine. Dessert is carrot cake tart with cream-cheese ice cream.

Situated amidst lagoons, bridges and rocks from the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, the resort’s Alan Wong’s Amasia will present three-course dinner menus before the June 4 and 6 shows at $75 per person.

Starters are watermelon salad with local chevre and radish; and California roll with avocado-ginger puree. Entrees range from grilled prime hangar steak in kaffir citrus; crisp Kauai shrimp and braised pork belly; to premium ahi sashimi done donburi style with hamachi to uni. Hanaoka Farms lilikoi malasadas will be presented in Chinese takeout containers for you to eat at Amasia or take to the movie.

It’s a stellar lineup of movie stars, and Grand Wailea’s managing director Tom Donovan says, “We are happy to support the film festival with the newest venue, Seaside Cinema.”

“Barry Rivers has done an outstanding job in producing the festival for 15 years, and we couldn’t be more honored to host this new venue along stunning Wailea Beach. We are planning a great evening with a dimly lit, sunset lounge area where you can enjoy the film in a whole new way and with a cocktail. We look forward to seeing many kamaaina here enjoying the setting.”

Rivers, the founder and codirector of the festival, agrees that the new venue will be popular.

“Special in its own unique and intimate way, Seaside Cinema is another gem in the crown of Maui’s jewel box festival. Hosting this year’s tributes is just the tip of the iceberg!”