three’s bar and grill: a hidden gem tucked into kihei kalama village

THREES_CHEFSFor those who have yet to discover Three’s Bar & Grill in Kihei, you will be pleasantly surprised by the amazing food that is being served up at this South Maui “foodie” gem tucked into Kihei’s Kalama Village across from the Cove surf park.

Chefs. Surfers. Friends. Travis Morrin, Cody Christopher, and Jaron Blosser discovered several years ago that they shared a love for surf while working together at a top Maui restaurant.

As they became friends and surfed together they dreamt up the idea to start their own catering business using their regarded culinary school training and experience so they could surf whenever they wanted. Three’s Catering was launched in 2009 using a rented warehouse and a few old trucks. Soon their unexpected success had them looking for permanent kitchen space, and they opened a restaurant in the current Three’s Bar & Grill location in Kihei’s Kalama Village where their menu has evolved incorporating the three chefs’ three cuisines – Hawaiian, Southwestern and Pacific Rim. Three’s is all about great food with locally sourced ingredients, creating memories, and the casual island lifestyle that these friends enjoy everyday.

I had the pleasure a few weeks ago to meet up with a friend of mine to sit down and chat with Travis, Cody and Jaron and learn a bit about what is behind the great food at this sweet little south-side restaurant and bar.

When you arrive at Three’s you are welcomed into a vibrant and colorful entry where you can peek into the kitchen and if you glance to the left you will see the popular “Surf Lounge” where (I’ve heard) hot, hip south siders gather at night to hang in large comfy leather sofas and chairs set up for prime lounging and imbibing.

We sat right down and put ourselves in the three chef’s hands for a tasting of some of their favorite creations. First came a beautiful platter of six oysters ($2.50-$3 ea) from “The Raw Bar” with a decadent wasabi cocktail sauce and a house-made mignonette which was perfectly tasty and subtle so that we could enjoy the fresh oysters, including the famous little kumamoto. Crushed ice and a pewter platter made the presentation five-star and impressive! According to their purveyor, Three’s sells more oysters than any other Maui restaurant. We think this guarantees the freshest quality every time.

The Green Dragon sushi roll ($14.50) which arrived next was a wonderful combination of unagi (a mild fresh water eel for sushi neophytes) and spicy crab with crunchy cucumber and creamy avocado all rolled up to perfection and garnished with a soy ginger reduction and thai sweet chili sauce. A small amount of crunchy masago topped it all off. This was definitely a larger portion than a typical sushi roll that I have ordered in other Maui sushi spots.

At this point we were starting to fill up but the server stopped by to chat and told us we “must” try her favorite Kalua Pork Nachos ($13.95). The chefs make their own fresh tortilla chips, a trio of taro, corn and sweet potato, at Three’s and then top the large pile off with fresh tomato, thai basil guacamole, lettuce, fresh herbs and a thai chili kaffir lime sauce. Did I forget the mound of house-made kalua pork!? Decadent and perfect with an ice-cold local beer on tap.

Check out Three’s Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm daily and 9-10pm nightly. Appetizers and sushi are half off including the house favorite panko crusted ahi roll (normally $15), with $3 drink specials served throughout the restaurant. The $10 specialty cocktail menu features hand-mixed fresh ingredients and classics including Le Boulevardier, a retro cocktail that first appeared in the 1927 bar guide “Barflies and Cocktails”. Quickly stirred, the cocktail is created with Jack Daniel’s Sour Mash, Torani Amer and sweet vermouth, served with a fresh swath of orange.

The restaurant opened in 2010 to rave food and beverage reviews and they have earned a solid reputation for live, local entertainment ALL DAY where throughout the day guests can enjoy acoustic musicians playing while you dine on the shady outdoor lanai. At night on Wednesdays the Surf Lounge is happening with Blues and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday live musicians play acoustic guitar in the lounge.

They are open daily for breakfast from 8:30 to 11am (no breakfast on Monday and Tuesday) serving the traditional buttermilk pancakes, omelettes and signature eggs benedict to order. The stand out deluxe Hawaiian loco moco includes a char grilled 8oz Big Island natural beef burger, two eggs any style, crispy maui onion rings, and rice smothered with wild mushroom and apple smoked bacon ragout. Seriously “ono”!

The lunch menu is served seven days a week from 11am to 4pm. and highlights salads and sandwiches along with popular appetizers such as the kalua pork quesadilla with coconut porter bbq sauce, cilantro lime aioli, and spiced mango chutney.

Dinner is from 5-10pm and features everything from an extensive sushi menu with traditional and specialty rolls, sashimi, nigiri as well as raw bar oysters and poke. The aptly named signature volcano roll is a California roll topped with spicy tuna, ahi, salmon, jalepeno and sriracha aioli. Entrée favorites play homage to the chefs’ blended cuisine styles with Hawaiian style ribs using a Three’s dry rub, guava-chipotle bbq sauce, russet mashed potatoes and peanut Asian slaw. It represents their three culinary and cultural influences. Fabulous house-made desserts round out the menu.

The chef friends have always been supporters of local charities where they donate their time and fabulous food to the likes of Hui No`eau, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, and many more. They even produced fundraisers in their Surf Lounge for Hurricane Sandy and the Japan earthquake relief, and donate gift cards to silent auctions throughout the island. Their surfer-boy qualities are true aloha all the way!

For reservations you can visit http://www.threesbarandgrill.com and use the Open Table reservations link on the home page or call 879-3133.

The chefs enjoy sharing on social media and you can find them on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/threesbarandgrill; Twitter handle is @threesmaui
 and Instagram handle is @threesmaui.

–a. freeland

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