The Golf Road Warriors were privileged to enjoy some exceptional dining experiences during our week-long sojourn through Maui. My favorite among them was dinner at The Terrace, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s new “concept” restaurant.
A bright, spare, multi-level room with a plantation-inspired design, The Terrace’s green, gold, and textured fabrics, coupled with its floor-to-ceiling windows, serve to connect diners with the landscape. The room is low-key and understated by Ritz-Carlton standards, but the resort wanted a casual, family-friendly room that nevertheless aspired to top culinary standards.
Built around chef-crafted regional cuisine, the restaurant strikes a balance between sophistication and rusticity. The menus, created by Executive Chef John Zaner, are inspired by seasonal, organic, and sustainable ingredients drawn from local farms and coastlines. Each dish is brilliantly flavored, mainly because Zaner has the imagination and prowess to mix and match ingredients to enhance the flavor profile of each dish. His artistry is exceptional.
While we skipped the crafted flatbreads, each one of the appetizers was ordered for our table, and they were excellent, notably the Local Snapper Ceviche (with coconut, calamansi, Hawaiian chiles, crispy moloka’i chips); and Ahi Poke (with kukui nut inamona jus, avocado, tobiko caviar, wonton chips). I ordered the Surfing Goat Dairy Cheese Salad (with fig-maui onion panini, lavender, lehua honey vinaigrette), followed by the Lamb Burger, which had a dollop of surfing goat dairy cheese (do goats surf?) and mint-pineapple marmalade to go with the lean, juicy meat.
I might add that the art of mixology is alive and well at The Terrace. I ordered a Mai Tai, the rum-based Hawaiian specialty drink that I use as a benchmark cocktail throughout the islands (The Terrace scores high for its version), though had I allowed my eyes to roam the menu, I might have decided on a 1944 Pineapple Cream (10 cane rum, myer’s dark rum, dry curacao, orgeat syrup, press pressed pineapple, lime juice, house-made falernum pineapple foam, infused pineapple ice cubes). For a resort that occupies a former pineapple plantation, that might have been a logical choice. Then again, the Deconstructed Mojito, made with old lahaina rum and ginger liqueur, among other ingredients, also sounded very appealing.
Good food, good drinks, and dazzling views of the deep blue Pacific is a tough combo to beat. Especially in a comfortable, beautifully lit room with nary a sport jacket in sight. In Manhattan, a sleek suit, pressed shirt, and cuff links are de rigeur. But in Maui? An untucked flowered shirt, casual slacks, no socks, and a pair of loafers will do just fine at The Terrace, a fine-dining room disguised as a casual eatery that in my opinion perfectly matches a vacationing guest’s expectations.