cane & canoe: a foodie’s paradise at montage kapalua bay

It was one of those beautiful  Maui afternoons, the ones where you realize Maui really is “No Ka Oi” and the term “Lucky We Live Maui” just makes sense.

It had been a long work week and my mom had just arrived from the mainland, we were on our way to celebrate! As we drove across the island from Haiku through Lahaina Town and to our ultimate destination – Kapalua the sun was starting to set and it was that moment when a warm Maui day just melts into evening. My favorite part of the day.

As we entered the lobby at Montage Kapalua Bay we marveled at Moloka‘i in the distance beautifully framed in the view, a picture perfect postcard which set the tone for a special night.

Winding down the wooden staircase towards Cane & Canoe, the Montage Kapalua Bay’s signature restaurant, we were serenaded by a local musician welcoming us into the “canoe hale” inspired space for our evening. The architecture of the dining room is truly amazing. The spectacular three-story A-frame ceiling creates an open air environment for alfresco Maui dining at its finest. A beautifully restored canoe graces the center of the space and dark wood accents with white tablecloths add to the ambiance. On both sides of the restaurant are large round tables surrounded by crisp white curtains for a private dining experience for larger parties and family gatherings.

We were greeted by our smiling server Tess, who ably handled my numerous questions about the diverse menu, it was tough to narrow down all of the enticing choices.

Throughout the evening the talented artist sang and played acoustic guitar (everything from Bob Marley to contemporary Hawaiian favorites). Live music is performed nightly in Cane & Canoe from 5:30-8:30pm and the bar area also has a piano player on Saturday nights from 6-9pm.

THE FOOD:

Tess brought over a basket of fresh, warm petite biscuits with a sprinkling of local black sea salt over the ramekin of creamy butter which provided the perfect crunch in each bite (we disregarded the low-carb rules that night!).

The man behind the amazing and diverse menu is Executive Chef David Viviano. A talent in the kitchen with an experience spanning over 20 years. Viviano oversees all culinary operations at the resort including menu creation and kitchen operations for Cane & Canoe and Hana Hou Bar, as well as for Mahana Market, In-Residence Dining and private dining.

Viviano arrived at Montage Kapalua Bay in 2014 from the St. Regis Aspen Resort in Colorado, where he was the “CheF&B.” In that uniquely titled role, he oversaw all culinary operations of the resort, supervised a food & beverage team of 70+ associates, and managed a multi-million dollar operation. No stranger to the islands, Viviano fell in love with Hawai‘i and its rich heritage and culture, as well as its distinct cuisine during his tenure as Acting Executive Chef at Kauai’s St. Regis Princeville in 2012.

He has been honored with many awards forCane & Canoe’s cuisine including: 2017 Forbes Travel Guide, Four Star Rating; Maui County Agricultural Festival, Grand Tasting: Best Vegetarian Dish and 2016 Maui No Ka Oi Reader’s Choice Aipono Award, Best Innovative Menu.

We definitely agree with his innovative nature, there were so many unique choices it was hard to narrow down our finalists.

On Tess’s suggestion from the “Starters” we tried the Tuna Sashimi with ponzu, wasabi aioli, fresh lime, sea asparagus, jalapeno and cilantro ($25). The ponzu was perfectly salty with a clean, citrus flavor and the paper thin jalapeno provided just the right amount of heat. The Dungeness crab cakes on a bed of braised red cabbage and pickled Fresno chile aioli ($29) were rich pillows of creamy crab served atop the savory sauce, mmmmm, highly recommend both of these dishes.

Other tempting items were the Surfing Goat cheese tempura served with roasted beets, lilikoi, arugula and fresh orange ($20) and the Kaua‘i Shrimp & Grits with portuguese sausage and tomato pan sauce ($25).

We noticed our neighbors had ordered the decadent Seafood Tower with Kona Lobster, ahi poke, West Coast oysters, Kaua‘i prawns and all of the condiments and sauces to compliment this tower of goodness ($110). We ogled as it arrived at their table.

In the “Soup and Salads” category chef offers a Coconut lobster soup ($22) with a red curry base, cilantro pesto and a crisp lobster wonton on top. He has created a wonderful layer of mellow spice with the curry that does not overpower the lobster. Mom ordered the Upcountry Heirloom Tomato salad with prosciutto, pressed cantalope and watermelon and Burrata cheese with a thai basil dressing ($21). I had to sneak a bite and it was a flawless salty/sweet combination.

The main dishes are divided up into “Cane” or from the land/mauka where you will find steaks, chicken, lamb chops and a taro linguine dish for vegetarians. The Cast Iron Seared American Kobe 12 oz Ribeye with maitake mushrooms, confit leeks and truffle mashed potato with madeira demi ($68) and Colorado Lamb Chops with Surfing Goat cheese, potato gratin and ratatouille and macadamia nut gremolata are offered for fans of a hearty meat dish.

“Canoe” from the sea/makai features local fish entrées including Chef’s Fish of the Moment which that evening was Monchong, pan seared to create that wonderful thin crust, and served with mashed red potatoes and a yuzu beurre blanc. The fragrant japanese citrus created a nice, creamy yet light sauce for the fresh catch.

I ordered the Togarashi Crusted Ahi with Kula corn puree, edamame succotash, grilled baby romaine and papaya mustard ($49). Togarashi, for those not familiar, is the red Japanese dried chile peppers – this dish was spicy – not for the faint of heart but delicious with the baby grilled romaine and papaya mustard sauce.

Tess told us we “had to try” the house favorite Lobster “Mac” & Cheese which was a creamy bowl of freshly made potato gnocchi and chunks of lobster topped with melted mozzarella and parmesan. A specialty of this hale and worth the splurge! ($28) Another tempting side dish we tried was the Brussel Sprouts with macadamia nuts and preserved horseradish dusted the top (a unique but mild and wonderful combination). Kula corn with cotija cheese, truffle whipped potatoes and roasted cauliflower are just a few of the other options for veggies to share.

THE DRINKS:

We were so delighted with the food, how can we not mention the beverages?

A trip to Cane & Canoe is not complete without talking about and trying the ­famous “Kapalua Butterfly” from the original Kapalua Bay Hotel. This 1978 creation is still featured prominently at the Cane & Canoe bar (we have included a recipe for you to try it at home!)

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THE BAR + LOUNGE:

The Cane & Canoe Bar is located just next door and is open daily from 4:30-10:30pm with Happy Hour featured from 4:30-6pm nightly. Saturday nights feature a piano player from 6-9pm.

The bar menu has wonderful Kona Lobster Roll Sliders, crème fraiche, lemon, fine herbs, hawaiian sweet bread, maui potato chips ($32) and one of the island’s best burgers too, a Wagyu beef burger served on a brioche bun with crispy french fries ($24).

­­One must not fail to mention Cane & Canoe’s exceptional brunch which is offered every Sunday with live jazz music. Brunch is served from 9am to 12pm and features an enhanced a la carte menu created by Executive Chef David Viviano. Each week new brunch selections are featured in addition to the regular menu including favorites Shrimp and Grits, Chicken and Waffles and Steak and Eggs. Enjoy a “Build-your-own Bloody Mary Bar” with an assortment of liquor, mixers and all the trimmings to make a most decadent libation.

For more information and reservations, please call 662-6681.

–allyson mattox

AT A GLANCE…

Kapalua Butterfly RECIPE
2 oz Myers Dark Rum
1.5 oz pineapple juice
1.5 oz sweet & sour mix
1.5 oz orange juice
1 oz grenadine
1.5 oz coconut cream

Blend everything except 1 oz Myers rum and the grenadine. Pour grenadine in bottom of snifter glass, top with blended ingredients. Float 1 oz Myers on top. For garnish, fold a half-circle of pineapple (sliced very thin) in half over a maraschino cherry and pierce with toothpick.

CANE & CANOE HOURS:

Breakfast 7am-11am
Sunday Brunch 9am-12pm with Bloody Mary Bar & Live Jazz Music
Dinner 5pm-9pm
Nightly Entertainment 6pm-9pm

 

 

 

 

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