Kahului Ale House has always been the place to go for fun, live music, pupu and some beer.
But now, new interim General Manager John Ryan is ratcheting up the menu with foods that are evocative of anything but an ale house - and the general consensus is, "go check it out!"
"I was brought in to overhaul the place from top to bottom," says Ryan, a Culinary Institute of America grad, who's got a ton of food and beverage experience from Rhode Island and beyond. "Kahului Ale House had this identity crisis for a long time."
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Kahului Ale House owner Scott “Scooter” Metcalfe, seated, and General Manager John Ryan have made tasty changes.
While the new menu was "four years in the making," in recent months owner Scott "Scooter" Metcalfe also accepted advice from the folks at Flatbread Company in Paia for his new pizza line.
"We're concentrating on pizza by the slice and whole, thin-crust pizzas," says Scooter. "We're now serving them all the way until 1:45 a.m. with lots of vegetarian and other gourmet options. And, our regular menu is served until 11:30 p.m."
The Vegan Delight is topped with crimini mushrooms, tomatoes, avocados and lots of caramelized Maui onions. The Island Stylin' features kalua pork, fresh Maui pineapple, red onion, chevre and mango-barbecue sauce as toppings.
"We have premium burgers, too," Ryan says. "Fresh local lettuces and tomatoes are not an afterthought. We do as much as we can with local agriculture."
The Aristocrat burger is almost too good to be true, featuring Maui onion confit with applewood smoked bacon and tangy bleu cheese dressing.
"To caramelize the onions, I use brown sugar and apple cider vinegar and let it all reduce for several hours," says Ryan as he watches us wolf one down.
The fresh poke uses Guinness beer as a base and the kukui nut brings out earthiness as an enhancement.
"I'm a Reuben snob, too," says Ryan. "I make the kraut here with Amber Bock and I use roasted red-pepper remoulade instead of Thousand Island dressing."
Tonight, there is live reggae music and Friday there will be DJs, both with Next Level Entertainment.
"You can have bar food, but there is no reason to not use premium ingredients," says Ryan. "That wasn't Ale House's reputation before I got here. We also offer a free piece of lilikoi guava cake for those celebrating birthdays." Call 877-9001.