Chris Kaiwi is as happy as a clam when he hears the words, "What's happening at the Grill?"
That's because Kaiwi, the vice president and managing partner of Pineapple Grill at Kapalua, prides himself on shaking things up, creating a buzz.
"We get a lot of repeat customers and so we want to create some excitement to keep them coming back for more," says Kaiwi. "Inquisitive people are constantly asking us what is new or what is happening at the Grill, and we love to tell them."
“Diners get to enjoy what Maui has to offer in the summer months with my new seasonal menu,” says Executive Chef Ryan Luckey. “My local harvest comes from farmers all over the island.”
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Currently, "what's new" is the summer menu, as fresh as it gets with exotic and fun ingredients.
"We want to be known for our menu that changes seasonally," says Kaiwi. "Our chef is really utilizing a lot of local farmers, and he can showcase his creativity with the summer ingredients."
Everything is a fresh as it gets, just picked from the ground. We're talking watermelon, arugula, corn, fennel, asparagus, squash and Kula tomatoes. On a recent visit, my friend and I tried and then raved about a salad packed with We Farms baby rocket arugula, island watermelon, and Surfing Goat Dairy mo bettah' feta cheese, all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and opal-basil vinegar. Wow! It was satisfying and refreshing, bitter and sweet, a perfect cool down on a hot summer day in the islands.
Pineapple Grill fast facts:
* Where: Pineapple Grill is located at 200 Kapalua Drive at the Bay Course in Kapalua.
* Hours: Open daily for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; grill menu sizzles from 2:30 to 5 p.m.; and dinner is served from 5:30 to 10 nightly.
* New menu highlights: Hawaiian ahi tuna tartare with Hass avocado relish, chili oil and crispy lotus chip; Thai grilled Hawaiian shutome with Molokai sweet potato, snap peas, li hing mui, pineapple mango chutney in red-curry peanut sauce; and Hawaiian watermelon and Surfing Goat Dairy feta cheese salad over baby "rocket" arugula.
* For more details: Call 669-9600 or visit dinecrg.com.
You may also dive into a fettuccine plate of crisp summer asparagus and baby fennel with snap peas, pancetta, creamy dill sauce and parmesan cheese. Add grilled chicken or garlic shrimp as extras.
Or opt for the macadamia-nut, basil-pesto baked Hawaiian mahimahi with Molokai summer squash, Kula corn risotto and charred tomato vinaigrette. It's an endless summer of tastes that dish a mouthful of ocean and farm-fresh goodness.
"Besides the vegetables, what I'm really excited to present are exotic fruits, stuff you wouldn't expect to see," says Executive Chef Ryan Luckey.
Just like chefs of old put parsley on the plate as a garnish, Luckey wows his modern- day customers with whole lilikoi or passion fruit, cut in half, Ka'u oranges and fragile mountain apples.
"I remember picking a mountain apple in Honomanu Valley," says Kaiwi. "It brings back memories to have it here on a plate. It's a great educational tool for the guests. They want to know what it tastes like and come up with their own interpretations. I think it tastes just like a pear."
Luckey agrees. "I put these exotic fruits on the plate and it gives them something to talk about. It's a novelty for them and they learn about Hawaii."
In addition, Pineapple Grill offers nightly specials, so there is always something new to try. For instance, Sunday is prime rib night. You may sink your teeth into a 12-ounce Angus prime rib, rubbed with chef's own spice blend and slow roasted. It's served until "pau," or finished. So get there early to ensure a plate.
Monday is the dinner for two paired with wine special. "You get three gourmet courses of food and one bottle of wine for $99 per couple," says Kaiwi.
Tuesdays, you may savor a full rack of baby back ribs with all of the fixings at a cost of $27 per person.
"Wine Wednesday is the craziest night of all," says Kaiwi. "We offer half off wines by the bottle and 25 percent off wines by the glass in the bar only. We've developed a really worldly list. Wines come from Italy, France, South Africa and South America. They're not just from California. We're very proud of our list. It doesn't read like a library book. It's really focused and food friendly, too, and people love it."
Thursdays, Mauians rock to the Jawaiian music by Damien Awai and 50 percent off the bar menu with drink specials for Industry Night all evening.
Friday, come and enjoy the Ocean Beach Party with live music by Scotty Rotten. You may sip Maui's own Ocean Vodka drink specials all night and get 50 percent off of the bar menu from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, you may listen to jazz on the green from 7 to 10 p.m. with more bar specials. Diners also flock there for nice golf course lunches with yummy gourmet items thrown into the mix. Next time, just ask - "What's happening at the Grill?"