Maui's culinary scene is red hot right now. For instance, Sheldon Simeon of Star Noodle and Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop, is making our entire island proud by edging his way to national stardom on the Bravo Channel's final combative legs of "Top Chef Seattle."
So let's start with West Maui, and talk about Simeon's restaurants first.
The Melting Pot in Lahaina’s Manager Carli Foster and Executive Chef Lyndon Honda get ready to wow you on Feb. 14th with a sexy prix--fixe menu.
Tucked in at the top of Lahaina Business Park, Star Noodle will celebrate Valentine's Day Feb. 14 with scallop shots, exotic Vietnamese crepes and jumbo prawns along with specialty drinks.
Desserts for your ku'uipo, or "sweetheart," include hot malasadas with chocolate and caramel sauce. Hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 667-5400.
Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop in Olowalu is baking up specialty pies for your heart's desire. In addition, you may stop by to pick up red-velvet cupcakes, strawberry cream tarts and sugar cookies. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 662-3600.
Another red-hot item is that legendary Maui Chef Alex Stanislaw has turned up at Kahana Grill in the former Roy's Kahana spot in West Maui.
"We're presenting a winemaker dinner on Wednesday, featuring Storrs Vineyard," says Stanislaw. "Steve Storrs will be on hand here working the room."
"The next night is Valentine's Day, and we will offer a prix-fixe menu exclusively in our private Makai Dining Room." There will be two seatings at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Cost is $65, plus tax and gratuity.
Begin with an amuse bouche, or small tastes of a Maui shooter, ahi spoon, glass of champagne; followed by oyster trio with three mignonettes; second course of organic Kula tomato carpaccio; followed by olive-oil poached scallop, seared foie gras, pinot-noir reduction; and Kaanapali coffee-rubbed New York strip steak with watercress salad, Maui onion-bacon marmalade, gorgonzola gratin. Top it off with a menage a trois of the sweet dessert kind.
The regular menu will be available in the main dining room along with vegetarian offerings. Call 669-4000.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua will get you in the mood for love with several options on Valentine's Day.
For starters, toast to your past, present and future from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Alaloa Lounge with the Ritz's signature champagne and get fresh, orchid lei to exchange with your soul mate. Cost is $25 per person.
Or opt for the Ku'uipo Dinner at the Banyan Tree Restaurant from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., an indulgent, romantic chef-prepared menu at $95 per person, or $150 with rose wines. Tax, tip extra. Reservations strongly recommended.
Are you into celebrating later in the night? Conclude your romantic evening with the Champagne & Chocolate Bar from 9 to 11 p.m. in Alaloa Lounge while enjoying live Hawaiian music and hula dancing. Valet parking is complimentary. Ritz's spa is also offering chocolate-dipped manicures and pedicures. For Ritz-Carlton reservations, call 665-7096.
Merriman's Kapalua will offer its regular menu for Valentines Day starting at 5:30 p.m. Highlights are pan-roasted diver sea scallops; peppercorn-garlic-rubbed ribeye; and Maui Lehia taro cakes. Call Merriman's at 669-6400 for reservations.
Hula Grill Kaanapali will entice all of you sweethearts with its aphrodisiac-inspired Valentine's Day menu.
The oceanfront restaurant sets the mood for a romantic dinner for two with sunset views, and the sweet sounds of live island music. In addition, all ladies will receive a single-stemmed rose.
Begin with a chilled Pacific Northwest oysters and champagne lilikoi mignonette, followed by entree choices of kiawe-grilled Hawaiian ranch tenderloin with balsamic fig reduction, black-truffle scalloped potato, and herb-glazed heirloom carrots; or seafood paella served with the local catch, Portuguese sausage, scallop, shrimp, Tristan lobster, British Columbia clams, saffron rice, roasted garlic, tomato and buttered peas. Dessert features a chocolate treasure chest. The three-course dinner costs $62.85 for the paella option and $64.85 for the tenderloin. A la carte items and regular menu are also available. Call 667-6636.
Want to cook an intimate meal at home on Valentine's Day? Maui Prime Fine Foods in Emerald Plaza in Lahaina is offering an eight-ounce tenderloin and lobster tail for $24.95; and one-ounce Osetra caviar and Taittinger champagne for $95. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. For more details, call 661-4912.
At Aloha Mixed Plate on Front Street in Lahaina, celebrate Valentine's Day on its shady oceanfront deck and watch the whales with your special someone. Local favorites will be served from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 661-3322.
The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali will tempt you with several Valentine's Day meals, including a Japengo prix-fixe dinner for two; Spa Moana couples treatment packages; and poolside dinner for two at 'Umalu.
"We are setting up deuces on the edge of the pool and the pool lights will all be red!" says the Hyatt's Director of Food & Beverage Peter Donnelly.
The 'Umalu meal also features Maui Cattle Co. filet mignon and cold-water lobster tail along with sparkling wine, romantic live music and a special dessert. Cost is $199 per couple. Call 667-4727.
Fleetwood's on Front St. is drumming up a prix-fixe dinner and show for Valentine's Day with the Kit Kat Club for $175. Tables will be set with white linen, ladies will be presented with a rose, and a violinist will stroll around the dining room.
Begin with soft-shell blue crab cakes or spinach and pomegranate salad; followed by entree choice of Angus short rib; Hawaiian sea bass; or vegetarian Moroccan couscous; and lover's trio dessert of fondue, ganache, pound cake, fresh fruits and more. After dinner, head up to the roof for the show at 9:45 p.m. Call 669-MICK.
Gerard's at the Plantation Inn in Lahaina will offer seatings at 5:30, 6, 8, and 8:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day.
"We will be serving a prix-fixe menu only for $95 per person," says French chef-owner Gerard Reversade.
But there are plenty of choices for every taste. Appetizers include Hamakua mushroom in puff pastry, venison pate, ahi tartare with taro chips, and more. Play footsie in Gerard's romantic environment and savor the next course of fresh snapper dumpling, or cream of artichoke soup. Entrees range from baked opakapaka with crab meat to confit of duck to grilled rack of lamb.
Gerard is a consummate chef and all of his desserts are all made in house. The restaurant is also rated the highest score in this year's Zagat Guide to Hawaii. Cost is $95 per person. Call 661-8939.
Executive Chef Jojo Vasquez is another hot shot, excelling at serving romances at Plantation House Restaurant, Kapalua,
From Feb. 14 to Feb. 17. Vasquez will excite the palate with seafood seduction for two, ahi sashimi, poached shrimp and crispy pacific oysters. Then savor the Couple: beef tenderloin and lobster in tarragon and dijon cream; or, for lovers of the sea, choose Fruits de Mer with Manila clams, shrimp, local fish in tomato and basil broth. For dessert, indulge in the chocolate passion, a combination of bittersweet chocolate cake, ganache, strawberries and ice cream. For reservations, call 669.6299.
Now, here's a red-hot idea that makes it easy on date night. Sister restaurants, The Melting Pot and 100 Wines in Lahaina Gateway, will have fresh roses waiting at your table when you arrive, if you request. A single rose costs $5, half dozen for $25, full dozen, $40. Lei are $20.
100 Wines chef Lyndon Honda has also come up with a creative prix-fixe menu for $65 per person, sure to increase your libido. Begin with Kumamoto oyster "4 Play," with bivalves kiawe-smoked, raw with mignonette, buttermilk fried and champagne poached. Follow it with Garden of Eden salad, Kama Sutra of poached lobster tail and pan-roasted steak; with the Happy Ending of warm-chocolate shots and red rose panna cotta. Call 661-6181.
Sister restaurant, The Melting Pot will get you in the mood for love with a fondue meal that include champagne Swiss cheese, choice of salad, and entree of Angus sirloin, herb de Provence chicken breast, white shrimp, Memphis-style pork, wild mushroom sachetti pasta and fresh vegetables with signature sauces. and choice of chocolate fondue dessert. Cost is $120 per couple, plus tax and tip. Sip a Love martini for extra. Call 661-6181.
Pineapple Grill in Kapalua will be romancing your appetites with Chef Isaac Bancaco's sweetheart of a prix-fixe meal that will be served in addition to the regular menu.
Start with an amuse-bouche of kiawe-smoked New Zealand salmon blini with dill creme fraiche, then an arugula salad with candied Kula rhubarb and Surfing Goat Dairy cheese. Then dive into the menage a trois of stuffed and baked half live Maine lobster; or the 12-ounce New York strip steak with local asparagus and veal demi glace. Dessert is Kula Country Farms strawberry tiramisu. Cost is $65 per person, plus tax and tip. Call 669-9600.
The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, and that means it's got the prime spot at Black Rock, or Pu'u Keka'a on the beach. Join the Black Rock Steak & Seafood culinary team under the direction of Chef Greg Gaspar for a four-course prix-fixe menu of Big Island beef short-rib ravioli and Hawaiian snapper with Dungeness crab, and more. Cost is $63, plus tax and tip. Call the main reservation line on Oahu at (808) 921-4600.
At Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, choose from dinner in Tiki Terrace, or a dinner show in Kupanaha Magic Dinner Theater. Both venues will provide each lady with a long-stemmed rose.
At Tiki Terrace, enjoy open-air dining in a relaxed atmosphere, a hula show, and romantic music for dancing under the stars. Chef Tom Muromoto will present award-winning dishes from which to select, such as koala lamb chops hoisin fire-roasted duck, kiawe-fired prime rib. Top it off with banana-caramel eruption. Cost of $49 per person includes a glass of champagne. Call 667-0124.
At KBH's Kupanaha Magic Dinner Theater, be dazzled by Las Vegas magician Mark Bennick filled with illusion along with audience participation and laugh-out-loud comedy. It includes a three-course meal with entree choices of fresh island fish, steak and shrimp, grilled chicken and shrimp, or marinated tofu with roasted vegetables. Cost is $89 for front row seats, $79 for general seating. Kamaaina and keiki prices available. Check in is at 4:30 p.m. Doors open at 4:45 p.m. Call 667-0128.
5 Palms Lahaina will draw you in for an evening of romance with ocean views galore and a five-course menu. It's open air and spacious with plenty of house parking. Start with an oyster shooter with beef froth, followed by an appetizer of lobster ravioli with foie gras dust and truffle pudding; and crisp Caesar salad. Entree choices are cherry char-siu duck, filet mignon or pan-sauteed opakapaka. Dessert is white chocolate mousse. Cost is $129.99 for two. Limited a la carte items available. Call 661-0937.
5 Palms Kihei also dishes up incredible views as it's situated right on Keawakapu Beach. Its four-course romance dinner begins with California roll with habanero masago and tuna rose; strawberry salad, filet Oscar with butter-poached lobster claw and wild mushroom polenta; and warm Hawaiian sweet bread pudding. Cost is $79.95; or $99.95 with wine pairings. Limited a la carte menu is also available. Call 879-2607.
Chefs at Gannon's: A Pacific View Restaurant in Wailea have had fun developing a five-course tasting menu incorporating 30 of the world's most popular aphrodisiacs. Diners beware.
The first course is duck consomme with foie gras tortellini, followed by butter-poached oysters with lemon caviar, avocado and Hawaiian chili relish; then seared scallop with lobster risotto and basil pesto; and almond-crusted rack of lamb with asparagus and fig port sauce. Dessert is chocolate-cayenne truffle cake to excite your nervous system. Hours are 5:30 to 9 p..m. Cost is $75, plus tax and tip. For reservations, call Gannon's at 875-8080.
Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei will sweep you off of your feet with the love ballads by the duo Hapa during its Supper Club. Dinner seating is at 6 p.m. and it is popular, so reservations are required.
Swoon over the Tahitian-style ceviche tower with fresh ahi, coconut milk, jalapeno, cilantro and lime; followed by spinach salad with fresh strawberries; and entrees of lemongrass marinated fresh fish with rice pilaf or chimichurri-marinated pork tenderloin. Then spoon feed your date white-chocolate cheesecake tartlets with raspberry drizzle. Cost is $60 per person.
The dinner special in the dining room is blue crab stuffed shrimp with garlic mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, asparagus and a lemon curry buerre blanc. Call 874-3779.
The landmark Buzz's Wharf in Maalaea will get you in the love groove with a four-course dinner menu from 5 to 9 p.m. with live music by Ron Kuala'au and Ryan Robinson. Heighten your senses with the first course of prawn bisque with pan-seared ahi-poke salad; then kick it up with Buzz's firecracker shrimp; with spiced-honey aioli.
Entree choices are grilled petit filet topped with fresh mozzarella and pomegranate demi-glaze or herb-grilled lobster tail with Maui-onion risotto and uni butter sauce. The piece de resistance will be triple chocolate ganache cake; or fruit Romanoff (contains alcohol).
Cost is $70 per person, or bring your sweetheart and save as it's $120 for two, plus tax and tip. Call Buzz's at 244-5426.
One of Maui's most unique Valentine's Day meals may be had at Seascape Ma'alaea restaurant in Maui Ocean Center. Seatings are at 6 and 8 p.m. and the food will be prepared by James Beard nominee Chef Henry Tariga - a decadent four-course feast set in the middle of a marine park.
Sip a welcome glass of sparkling wine, then savor the lover's share platter with seared ahi sashimi, smoked duck confit and chilled shrimp, followed by Cupid's salad. Entrees are crab-stuffed baked island fish, broiled prawns and filet combo, mango-chutney lamb chops and wild mushroom ravioli. Dessert is chocolate trifle. Cost is $99 per person, plus tax and tip. For reservations, call 270- 7088.
UPCOUNTRY/ CENTRAL MAUI
Kahili Restaurant in Waikapu will pull out all of the stops from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with a Valentine's Day buffet. Highlights are salad bar, cold seafood, and a carving station with oven-roasted choice prime rib of beef. Other hot favorites are roasted rack of lamb, herb crusted chicken, tiger shrimp linguine, green beans Almondine and desserts such as red-velvet cupcakes and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Cost is $34.95 for adults; and $17.50 for children 12 and younger. Call 242-6000.
Take your favorite squeeze or the whole family to Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului for its all-you-can-eat prime rib and shrimp buffet. Reservations are highly recommended as the price for two is $58.50 plus tax and tip. The garden salad bar will be heaped with local favorites such as noodles, chicken long rice and potato and macaroni salad.
Let chefs hand carve Maui Beach's famous roasted prime rib with au jus; and serve yourself Mongolian beef, shrimp Canton and fish in black-bean sauce. Pile your plate with California rolls and maki sushi. Grab a bowl of miso soup and top it all off with a trip to the dessert bar and frozen yogurt station. Hours are from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Call 877-0051.
Saddle up to StopWatch Sports Bar & Grill in Makawao for down-home Valentine's Day specials such as eggplant parmesan and bacon-wrapped New York steak. Complete meals will include dessert. Call 572-1380.
The new Old Wailuku Grill will put on a lovely four-course dinner with music by Phil and Angela Benoit for $45 per person, plus tax and tip. Start with crab cakes or Caprese appetizers, then crunch Caesar salad or mixed greens. Entree choices are fresh island fish, grilled portobello mushroom napoleon, and prawns and prosciutto pasta. Dessert is a trio of house specialties. Cost is $45 plus tax and tip. Call 986-0044. Happy Valentine's, everyone!