sunday brunch at humuhumu: lavish culinary spread meets incomparable ambiance

The Grand Wailea lives up to its name handsomely. From the opulent bougainvillea-punctuated waterfall that greets guests upon arrival; to the expansive lobby and exquisitely manicured grounds boasting Hawai‘i’s largest collection of fine art—including the renowned sculptures of Fernando Botero; to the network of gorgeous swimming pools and water activities; this resort is nothing short of top tier. Now visitors and locals alike can experience the ultimate brunch experience at the Grand’s magnificent Humuhumu restaurant on Sundays from 10:30am to 1pm.

The term “brunch,” a portmanteau of the words “breakfast” and “lunch,” was first coined in 1895 by writer Guy Beringer in the publication “Hunter’s Weekly.” He suggested, “Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade, and other breakfast fixtures, before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers….”

Although Beringer gave birth to the term “brunch,” he didn’t come up with the menu concept. Some food historians think brunch originated from the pre-hunt breakfasts that were common in England. Those were traditionally lavish meals with both sweet and savory options for every palate. Other historians believe Sunday brunch started thanks to Catholics who would fast before mass, then eat a large lunch after church. Another group of historians think brunch really got going in the Big Apple.

Whichever version is correct, the tradition caught on in the United States in the 1930s, supposedly because Hollywood stars making transcontinental train trips frequently stopped off in Chicago to enjoy a late morning meal. It was a concept championed by many hotels, since in those days most restaurants were closed on Sundays. Soon, restaurants gave into the trend and began offering decadent spreads of food and signature morning cocktails like Bloody Marys, Bellinis, and Mimosas.

Nowadays, brunch is steadily gaining momentum. There’s even a concept entitled “BrunchCon,” advertised as the world’s biggest food/drink festival all about brunch, that travels to eight major metropolitan cities in the U.S. throughout the year.

Back at the Grand Wailea, I can’t think of a better place to savor Sunday brunch than Humuhumu which, in my opinion, has the finest ambiance of any restaurant on Maui. This particular morning, the sun is perched high in a cloudless, sapphire-blue sky whose color is mirrored by the sparkling ocean. Humuhumu seemingly floats on top of a lagoon, and dining takes place in several “rooms,” like a Balinese-style mansion, all under a traditional Polynesian thatched roof.

Janet’s and my eyes nearly pop out of our heads when we first behold the lavish culinary spread that’s laid out before us, practically beckoning us to come hither. In the restaurant’s largest room—the one that houses the striking bar—the food offerings are arranged in clockwise order beginning with muffins, croissants, and pastries in lovely glass-front display cases. Next come fresh fruits, tarts, and gorgeous salads, followed by a ginormous seafood table and an artisan cheese and charcuterie station. A row of steaming hotel pans showcases hot items, from grilled Hawaiian fish, to Kona lobster mac & cheese, to dim sum, to traditional brunch favorites like eggs Benedict Humu style, roasted potatoes, bacon, sausage, waffles, and more delicacies than I have space to mention. You’ll have to see it for yourself!

Our tactic is to sample as many goodies as possible. Favorite items from our first round are the oh-so-fresh tomato and mozzarella salad, savory buffalo chicken deviled eggs, tender smoked salmon, delectable sushi, gigantic prawns, and the stellar offerings from the cheese and charcuterie station. While we nosh, local musician Jimi Canha imparts his unique style to popular songs like “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “Coconut” (“She put the lime in the coconut…”).

For round two, Janet and I hit the hot selections, and favor the Humu Benedict (Kona crab cake, poached eggs, adobo loco hollandaise); grilled Hawaiian fish with sweet corn succotash and kiawe-smoked BBQ sauce; applewood-smoked bacon; and seasonal frittata made with organic egg whites, wild Hamakua mushrooms, spinach, and sundried tomatoes.

As we’re finishing up these plates, we notice the restaurant’s private dining area, known as “Table 70,” contains the omelet and carvery stations, the latter of which features a whole roasted baby pig. Chef Dragan explains to us how they roasted the pig in one of the hotel’s cavernous ovens, then carves up some of the tender pork for us, along with slices of juicy roasted prime striploin. Next we visit Chef Phil, who prepares a tasty made-to-order omelet for me composed of smoked salmon, tomatoes, spinach, and cheese.

Janet has foregone an omelet, and controlled herself admirably with the carvery station delicacies, because she’s saving herself for dessert—her favorite part of any meal. We wander over to the desserts area, and that’s when we feel like the proverbial kids in a candy store! The entire room is filled with sweet treats like white chocolate mousse garnished with mango, pistachio cheesecake, ooey-gooey mac-nut bars, and a display case filled with several different types of cookies. There’s even an ice cream sundae station. But what catches our attention most is Chef Alexandra, who’s deep frying mochi donuts right before our eyes. We patiently wait for her to pluck a fresh batch from the fryer and roll the spheres of goodness in sugar, because all good things are worth waiting for, right? A side of luscious caramel sauce takes the donuts over the top.

Although we’re not “Saturday-night carousers,” Sunday brunch at Humu has definitely made Janet’s and my lives brighter. We highly recommend wearing stretchy clothes. Now it’s time for a nap.

–heidi pool

AT A GLANCE…

WHAT •

Sunday brunch offered at Humuhumu at Grand Wailea Resort & Spa. The cost is $75 per person for all you can eat, plus “bottomless” sparkling wine or Bloody Marys. Cocktails from the fully stocked bar are also available for an extra charge.

WHERE •

Grand Wailea Resort & Spa, located at 3850 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea.

WHEN •

Brunch is offered on Sundays from 10:30am to 1pm.

HOW •

Reservations suggested: 875-1234; grandwailea.com; opentable.com.

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