OCEAN VIEWS, WAIEHU . . . I hate to brag - but I sure can sniff out a new restaurant opening its doors. Just by chance on Monday, my sister and I decided to dine at the new Cafe O'Lei Waiehu, thinking it had opened earlier in August.
NOT! We got there minutes after they opened at Waiehu Golf Course. Once inside, we didn't recognize the old place, except for sweeping ocean and Haleakala views. New carpets, painted walls, cushy chairs and plants abound. Owner-chefs Dana and Michael Pastula also beefed up the banquet room with seating for 120.
"People told us we were crazy to do this," says Dana. "But I'm so excited about this place. My daughter, Claire, is back from college and she's running it. This gives her more responsibility."
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Cafe O’Lei’s General Manager Napa Recopuerto and server Kryste Kaupe are all smiles in the new Waiehu location that opened Monday.
Cafe O'Lei Waiehu opens early for golfers at 6:45 a.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. weekends. You'll also find pupu at 10:30 a.m.; and lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. "It's really for the locals," says Dana. "Until we get our liquor license, you may bring your own beer or wine."
Specialties of the house are pork katsu, laulau, fish plate, crispy chicken and tempura-friend mahimahi and chips with malt vinegar and fries. Prices range from $4.95 for Asian salad to $8.95 for fish.
You'll also find something sweet such as banana lumpia with coconut ice cream; and brownie fudge sundae with Kona coffee ice cream.
In addition, Cafe O'Lei Wailuku recently debuted sushi on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with creative seafood rolled by Chef Kojima San Sadao. Get it for half price from 4 to 5 p.m.
DINNER AND SHOW . . . This sounds like fun - listen to the spicy tunes of Joe Cano and friends from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, and enjoy a Mediterranean buffet with foods from Spain, France, Italy and Greece.
The party's at Brigit & Bernard's Garden Cafe and the cost of dinner and show is $35 per person.
From Spain will come paella Andalusia, and calamari and shrimp ala plancha with aioli. French food featured will be coq au vin, ratatouille, steamed mussels Marseillaise and petit pommes (potatoes) au rosemary.
But it doesn't stop there. Italian food lovers will find penne al fungi, Caprese salad, minestrone and tiramisu. And Greek fare includes vegetarian moussaka, lamb souvlaki and tzatziki bread.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Through September, Canoes in Lahaina will extend happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. and that means you get 50 percent off of appetizers for one hour longer than before.
"We have coconut-crusted tiger prawns, crab cakes, crispy calamari and baby-back ribs," says General Manager Michael Carlson. "Monday to Thursday, we now offer 50 percent off all bottles of wine. In addition, kamaaina now get 25 percent off food any time.
Speaking of deals, I didn't mention the time of the Happy September promo at Matteo's Pizzeria in Wailea in last week's issue. Basically, you get 50 percent off all pizza and wines by the glass from 4 to 6 p.m.
Television personality Regis Philbin was spotted having lunch at Pacific'o in Lahaina Sunday with his wife and an entourage of three others. Pacific'o was among other top Maui restaurants to get Wine Spectator's 2009 Award of Excellence for its wine list. Typically, winning lists offer at least 100 wines that complement the restaurant's menu in theme, style and price.
"Thoughtful pairing of food and wine enhances the dining experience," said Pacific'o's Wine Steward Richard Clark. "In developing our wine lists, we've focused on boutique, small production wineries who emphasize a sense of place in their wines."
* You may reach Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342.