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Feedback on my plan for our 2nd Family trip to South Maui?

Thanks, Kathryn! I think we're just too enamored with Eskimo Candy to appreciate other poke. :)

We didn't make it to Da Local Banana or Yee's as my husband and I aren't fruit fans (he hates bananas, actually!). But we did get 2 more days of decent meals.

Day 4
We headed to Longhi's right at 11:30 am, right as lunch was starting to be served. Service was a bit off: the hostess told us it would be a little longer as they transitioned to lunch. Told us the table was ready and walked us back 3/4 of the way and then turned around and told us it wasn't ready yet. So we sat another 5 minutes until she called us back again. Anyhow, the food was pretty good. We liked the ahi carpaccio (delicious!), DH had the Monchong Longhi Style (which he really liked), I had the Scallops Longhi because they were out of Salmon (which was only okay, as the scallops weren't seared at all), and the girls each had penne (one with marinara and one with a cheese sauce). We also had pretty delicious cocktails, which we always appreciate. DH would definitely return, whereas I'm more hesitant.

We had an early dinner/Happy Hour meal at Monkeypod, which we had enjoyed on our last trip to Maui. We ordered a few appetizers (50% off except for the Raw Bar Mixed Plate) including chicken wings, fries, and the raw bar mixed plate, Margherita pizza (also 50% off), and a few cocktails (their signature Mai Tai is delicious!). DH says it's not worth returning. I think the Raw Bar Mixed Plate was good, but I agree that I'd rather go to Eskimo Candy or Coconuts Fish Cafe instead.

Day 5
We had a 3:45 flight so we needed lunch and then food for the airport. We ended up eating all the leftover food in our kitchen (mac and cheese, pizza, fruit, spam and eggs, linguica, etc.). Since our flight didn't include a meal, we decided to pack up and head to Star Noodle in Lahaina for some food to go.

I was nervous, as Chef Sheldon was still there when we went last year and I wasn't sure if it would still be just as good. In short, the food really shined, especially when eating in an airport waiting room, where ambience is terrible, service is nonexistent, and one is self-conscious of strong smells. We ordered garlic noodles (a simple dish of very garlicky and chewy noodles), steamed pork buns (just as good as we remembered), ahi avo (outstanding--a true star and superbly seasoned), yakitori chicken (the girls INHALED this so I didn't even get a bite!), and tempura shrimp (soggy by the time we ate it 45 minutes later, which wasn't the restaurant's fault). It really isn't convenient to go there when based in Wailea, but I think it was worth the drive, especially if I could include other Lahaina activities. At least it was a pretty drive!

All in all, we had a wonderful time and thank you all for your suggestions!

Sep 06, 2014
smiles33 in Hawaii

Feedback on my plan for our 2nd Family trip to South Maui?

We are here now, on Day 3, and I thought I'd post an update.

Day 1
We stopped at Tamura's on our way from the airport but found the poke bowls were only ok. I had the Tamura's special and DH ordered the Hawaiian mix. I'm sure it's better when one doesn't go in with very high expectations. We LOVED the poke bowls at Eskimo Candy (did you rec that to us, too, Kathryn?) when we went last year and had expected Tamura's to match that experience. If we stayed closer to Kahului and Eskimo Candy was closed/more than an hour away, I'd return but given how awesome EC is, we won't be returning to Tamura's.

We then went to Ulalani Shave Ice and Sugar Beach Bake Shop for shave ice, Iilikoi key lime pie (yummy!), and some spam musubi (my 5 year old is allergic to fish so we didn't have anything from Tamura's for her). This was the best dining experience of the day, Kathryn! Thank you SO MUCH for the rec.

Then, since we felt like we didn't satisfy our poke fix, we went to Eskimo Candy anyway and split a poke bowl. I was surprised how dramatically better it was: crisp, clean flavors: firm cool fish chunks (versus small soft warm pieces that may have been sitting too long); and there's some sort of mayo-based sauce and ocean salad on Eskimo Candy's version ties it all together. I honestly think it was better than we remembered!

Dinner was at Amasia and we were sorely disappointed. It all sounded so good on paper! DH and I ordered the tasting menu (two for the price of one during Happy Hour!) while we ordered the girls $20 kids' bento boxes which had rice, Kula corn, and 2 entrees (which was downright bad, except for the chicken satay, which was ok, and the tempura shrimp, which was the only item that could justify what otherwise should have been a $5 bento box). They also had the POG flavored sodas (or maybe it was just passion fruit?) but since they don't normally drink soda, they didn't like the carbonation and I ended up drinking them. For our tasting menu, the short rib was a bit stringy, the Maui beef satay was surprisingly dry and crumbly after being bit (reminded me of hamburger!), and the sushi wasn't mind-blowing (passion fruit ceviche with Kampachi sounds so much better than it tasted). We all opted for malasadas for dessert--lilikoi filled ones for the adults. Sadly, these weren't as mind-blowing as I hoped. My malasada fell apart on me as I removed it from the Chinese take out box, crumbled into pieces with lilikoi filling making a huge mess everywhere. The girls liked their plain malasadas, which were huge and far better than the malasadas we got from Home Maid bakery on our trip last year.

At the end of the day, I told DH that at least the eating could only get better!

Day 2
We eat all breakfasts in our condo, as we stay on PST and the girls are awake by 4:30 am Hawaii time. Thus, DH prepared spam, eggs, linguica, and pan grilled Hawaiian rolls from Home Maid Bakery. Served with fresh POG and Maui coffee and everyone was happy. Yummy! One day when they're older, we will finally get to try Hawaiian breakfasts in a restaurant.

Later we went back to Eskimo Candy for lunch and each had our own poke bowl and split coconut shrimp. One daughter had fish and chips and the other had pasta (the girl with the fish allergy had a very plain in satisfying penne with butter and Parmesan). Kids' meals were disappointing but the coconut shrimp and poke bowls were delicious. Still, I remember thinking that the second day's poke wasn't as outstanding as the prior day. Interesting, huh?

On the way back, we stopped for shave ice and lilikoi key lime pie again from Ulalani and Sugar Beach. Plus my 5 year old wanted more spam musubi from Sugar Beach (we have spam here but no rice in the condo). We also ordered malasadas for Saturday per Kathryn's tip!

For dinner, we went to Migrant for the Happy hour specials. We ordered pancit (yummy), tocino (delicious), chow fun (only ok), ahi belly (well executed and moist), and KFC chicken wings (my favorite of the meal!). DH had a couple of cocktails and I tried one, too. We skipped dessert and headed back.

Day 3
Another delicious homemade breakfast in our condo around 5 am Hawaii time, followed by another trek to Sugar Beach at 8:30 am for a dozen malasadas (1/2 cinnamon and 1/2 original sugar) and yet another lilikoi key lime pie. Yes, for those keeping track, that is THREE consecutive days of lilikoi lime pie. Delicious!

Since we had a big snack of malasadas, we ate a late lunch (for us) at 1 pm: takeout from Coconuts Fish House. Fish tacos and coconut shrimp for the adults, Mac and cheese and spaghetti with marinara for the girls. Fish tacos were the best I've ever had! DH and I were both astounded how good they were: delicate, flaky fish, delicious mango salsa, sweet crunchy slaw, and 2 hearty corn tortillas. I think these coconut shrimp may also be better than Eskimo Candy's version. Needless to say, we didn't expect them to be this good, especially given how huge the portions were and how the operation looked like a fast food chain (you order and then sit down versus typical table service). The girls also had huge portions: twice the size of a normal kid's portion (heck, bigger than a typical adult portion!). Yet the Mac and cheese was bland and a bit too creamy so the girls split the spaghetti.

We ended up eating leftovers around 4:30 pm instead of going out, since we weren't hungry earlier and my 5 year old is usually in bed by 5 pm Hawaii time.

Two more days to go, so I'll be back to update. In the meantime, since we are here, please let me know if anyone has other suggestions for lunch/dinner or any questions. We still plan to try Longhi's and we know we already like Monkey Pod. I'm also guessing we will be going back to Sugar Beach Bake Shop yet again before we fly out!

Aug 30, 2014
smiles33 in Hawaii

Feedback on my plan for our 2nd Family trip to South Maui?

Kathryn: you are AMAZING! Thank you so much for such a detailed list....I love it! I'm especially excited about the malasadas, as we've had so many disappointing malasada hunts. Plus, that Queen Emma cake sounds divine.

Thanks again!

Jul 14, 2014
smiles33 in Hawaii

Feedback on my plan for our 2nd Family trip to South Maui?

I loved our dinner at Hali'imaile years ago, but it's too far and too late for our 5 year old to stay up. Sadly, the lunch menu isn't as appealing so we'll have to wait another couple years before heading back for dinner there.

I know I saw the Joe's menu before our last trip but wasn't super excited about it. What else do you recommend besides the pizza? With the 2 kids tagging along on this trip, we spend most of the time on the beach with breaks for full meals.

Thanks!

Jul 13, 2014
smiles33 in Hawaii

Feedback on my plan for our 2nd Family trip to South Maui?

Hello CHs!

We went to Maui for the first time as a family last year and loved our time in Wailea. We also hit some great restaurants and had wonderful advice from CHs. See that thread here:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/874363

We're staying in the same complex again and want to hit up some new options. Plus, since my youngest is 5 now, I'm hoping she can stay up later so we might make it to a few real dinners. Last year, we stayed on California time (3 hours ahead) and stuck to Happy Hours for our "dinner" meals so we could get her in bed by 5 pm HST. I think we'll stay on PST again, but I want to try some new places since my 5 year old can stay up later now. Like last time, I think we'll just make breakfast in the condo, since we're up by 5 am HST and hungry then.

The only places we plan to repeat again from our last trip are Eskimo Candy (thanks again to kathryn for that amazing tip!), Ulalani's Shave Ice, and Monkey Pod (it's 5 minutes from our condo and had great Happy Hour specials).

This time around, we have 5 days, 4 nights and I'm hoping to hit:

- Alan Wong's Amasia for dinner
- Coconut's Fish for lunch on the weekend when Eskimo Candy is closed
- Mala/Migrant in Wailea -- is this any good? I saw that it's close by and Chef Sheldon is there now
- Surfing Goat cheese/dairy tour

I had hoped to try the O'o Farm tour, but we're only there Thurs-Mon and they only do it Mon-Thurs, so there's no time to do it and still make our flight. Ugh.

We will have a car, but I don't know that I want to drive all the way to Merriman's for dinner (and then have an hour's drive home). Sea House was good, but not worth the commute from Wailea, IMHO.

Any other suggestions?

Jul 12, 2014
smiles33 in Hawaii

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

Yes, I can't wait to return to try eating at the chef's counter! Thanks for the photo--that does look like the salmon "skin."

NorCal Hound would love feedback/ideas on my dining plans

TRIP REPORT!

I'm exhausted from a whirlwind trip, but I absolutely loved Chicago and can't wait to return to try other places.

MONDAY DINNER: BOKA
This was a wonderful dinner, especially after my plane was delayed on the tarmac upon arrival for 45 minutes due to a late plane still boarding passengers at our gate. By the time I got to my hotel and freshened up, I felt like I really needed a treat! Boka did not disappoint. I love that it is tucked into a charming little neighborhood, as I walked over from the L stop. Wish I lived that close to such a great restaurant.

Inside, it was almost all couples dining at 9 pm, dimly lit, and a bit overly romantic for a single diner, but I just discreetly people-watched (couldn't quite see what they were dining as the tables were spaced apart nicely).

Service was lovely.

I started with the Foie Gras Terrine (unable to eat foie gras here in CA!) and enjoyed it. I found it much tastier than the foie gras smear I had at Purple Pig later in the trip. I also ordered the Ricotta Gnudi, which was a revelation! One of the best tastes of my trip (it *almost* matches the amazing roasted bone marrow at Purple Pig).

For my main course, I had the grilled beef short ribs. Delicious but not as mind-blowing as the gnudi, nor as highly anticipated as the foie gras.

Since I was dining alone, instead of wine, I enjoyed a cocktail. I asked the waiter for a rec and per my receipt, it looks like I ended up with a "Date with Divinity." I believe I enjoyed it, as I know the server had great recs for both the cocktail and dessert, but I can't recall enough of this specific cocktail to comment on it.

I finished with the Roasted Peaches for dessert. I enjoyed the olive oil cake (my first time!) and it complemented the pecan ice cream nicely. All in all, it was a great first taste of Chicago!

TUESDAY: Lunch at NAHA
I didn't sleep well at all and had an early morning of meetings, so I ended up just grabbing a bagel with lox from a local chain, Einstein's. Decent breakfast before I had an early lunch at NAHA.

The space is lovely with huge nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. Yet with a nearly empty restaurant (only two other tables were filled in the hour I was there: one with 2 men in suits and one with 2 women in sundresses), the bright airy space felt a little stark.

My server was a bit brusque but professional. Combined with the emptiness of the restaurant, it felt a little cold. Yet she broke into a smile once or twice when I commented on something I liked, like the cocktail she recommended (a smoky mescal cocktail, which my receipt says is a Block Dog but it's not on their online menu).

I opted for the prix fixe lunch, but was immediately informed (at 11:30 am) that they were out of cannelloni. Alas! Ever the trooper, I then went with my second choice, the Armenian “Lahmajoon” (lamb pizza). I thought it tasty, but presentation was more akin to what I would get from a hole-in-the-wall Armenian restaurant.

It was hot outside (per my sheltered Northern California standards, where anything above mid 70s is hot), so I decided I didn't want a heavy meat course before my afternoon business meetings. That meant excluding the pork shank. I make it a habit to avoid chicken at restaurants (it's far easier for me to secure organic free-range chicken to cook at home than other quality meats) and I don't like most fish, so that left me with the pasta dish. My main course was the Strozzapreti “Twisted Noodles,” Green Asparagus, Rapini and English Peas, Meyer Lemon and Parmesan Reggiano.

It sounded light and refreshing for a hot summer day, but in execution, I was disappointed. The sauce, what little I got, was bright (thanks, Meyer lemon, for your sacrifice!) but it lacked sufficient body (too thin and watery) and didn't cover the pasta and vegetables. The unbalanced proportions left me with a bland and disappointing dish that lacked the richness a pasta should have.

Fortunately, I ended with the cheese plate, including a rich creamy goat cheese that gave me the unctuousness I was craving. I don't know that I would go back, at least not for the prix fix lunch.

"Dinner" Tuesday night was a casual work event with heavy appetizers from a local Mediterranean chain, Roti. Pretty good, and I absentmindedly ate too much while talking with a lot of folks so I never made it out to dinner. Plus, I was exhausted from a 12 hour workday with only about 5 hours of restless sleep.

WEDNESDAY: Breakfast at LITTLE GOAT
I woke up at 5 am Chicago time, once again not sleeping well. After an hour of trying to go back to sleep, I decided I might as well get up and head out to a real breakfast. Logged onto Opentable and got a 7:15 am breakfast at Little Goat.

This was totally worth losing sleep and trekking out to West Loop. Instead of coffee (which I had already chugged back at my hotel), I opted for a Bloody Mary and it was delicious. I also got the Brandade and Belly Benedict. It was better than expected!

I love how it had the rich, "full-fat" mouth feel of a diner breakfast, but subtle flavor "tweaks" that surprised me and made this a distinctive breakfast. The buttery luscious biscuits made me think of an upscale diner, but the Kimchi, the salt cod flavor in the brandade, and the pork belly clearly told me I was not in any old diner. This was a creative yet still hugely satisfying meal. Many times, I find "creative food" is defined as a one or two bite, highly orchestrated, overly refined piece of art. I loved that this somewhat "messy" plate was full of flavor, full of fat, and yet also challenged me to tease out the various flavors.

Of course, after finishing this meal, I felt like I waddled my way back to my hotel and lay in bed for another hour before my first meeting (which, thankfully, did not require super brainpower as I was both sleep-deprived and lethargic from the heavy meal).

WEDNESDAY: Lunch at ARAON
Sigh. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it when you go to business lunches at restaurants that others choose. This was a HUGE disappointment. I couldn't find anything on the menu remotely interesting to me and didn't feel confident enough in the restaurant's quality to order sashimi before a flight back to California. So I ended up with a salmon bibimbap. I figured it should be a simple meal you can't really mess up, but they were missing the spicy gochujang (or didn't put enough in). I ate the salmon (about 6 bites worth) and maybe 4-5 bites of rice and left the rest.

But that's ok, two bites in, I knew I was going to sneak out to Purple Pig after my last meeting and before I headed to the airport. I wasn't going to waste precious stomach space on subpar, overpriced "Asian" food!

WEDNESDAY - Snacks at PURPLE PIG
After picking up my roller bag and changing to comfortable airplane-friendly clothes, I headed to Purple Pig (after first calling to confirm there wasn't a wait for 1 diner). I ordered the roasted bone marrow, foie gras smear, and the porchetta panini (which I took to go for dinner on the plane).

I love roasted bone marrow, but this version was particularly amazing because of the accoutrement. The herbs and capers were a bright contrast to the rich marrow on the delicious grilled bread.

Foie gras smear was ok, maybe because I had it second and it didn't pack the bright robust punch of flavor that the roasted marrow had.

At this point, I was getting really full so I was very glad I ordered the porchetta panini to go. I ended up being so full I never even ate it on the plane (had some before bed).

WED: More Snacks from O'Hare
I also picked up the Chicago mix from the Garrett's at O'Hare (my co-workers and kids loved it) and a tostada from Tostada Fronteras for my husband (the Pepito). It was good, better than any airport food I typically get, but I had a bite 6 hours after I bought it so maybe it was better fresh.

All in all, this was a delightful taste of Chicago and I wanted to thank Polski, nsxtasy, and Gonzo70 for your great tips.

Jul 12, 2014
smiles33 in Chicago Area

NorCal Hound would love feedback/ideas on my dining plans

Thanks again for being so helpful! I didn't sleep well so I ended up waking up too late to go to a sit down breakfast. Just picked up a toasted bagel with lox from a bagel shop across the street from my 9 am meeting. Waiting for my food at Naha now!

Jul 08, 2014
smiles33 in Chicago Area

NorCal Hound would love feedback/ideas on my dining plans

Already ate at Boka & loved it (foie gras terrine, gnudi, short ribs and peaches and cream). Made res for Naha tomorrow! Maybe will try french market for breakfast?

Jul 07, 2014
smiles33 in Chicago Area

NorCal Hound would love feedback/ideas on my dining plans

Just made a dinner res at Boka. Thanks fir the tip!

Jul 07, 2014
smiles33 in Chicago Area

NorCal Hound would love feedback/ideas on my dining plans

Exceptionally helpful advice here! I suspect it must be the solo diner factor. I'll call when I get off the plane for lunch tomorrow but it's too late for tonight. I procrastinated making by reservations due to some other pressing matters. I will try opentable now as i can't call from the plane.

Jul 07, 2014
smiles33 in Chicago Area

NorCal Hound would love feedback/ideas on my dining plans

I'm at the Hotel Allegro. Thanks for any help!

Jul 07, 2014
smiles33 in Chicago Area

NorCal Hound would love feedback/ideas on my dining plans

I'm traveling alone on business to Chicago for a very quick 2.5 weekday trip (so no Sunday brunch for me). I will not have a car, but I am willing to taxi it if it's not accessible via the L. I don't mind eating alone, eat everything (though I'm super picky about Chinese food so I think I'd avoid it on this trip), and budget is not an issue.

My problem is that I have some business meals with others, so I have only a few meals on my own: 1 dinner the night I arrive, 2 breakfasts and 1 lunch (has to be less than 2 hours long for both meal and the commute to/from the Loop given other meetings).

I tried, and failed, to get a reservation at some high-end/popular places (Alinea, Grace, North Pond, Naha, Girl and the Goat), though I'm wondering if some of them have bar seating (I know Girl & the Goat mentioned it on their website). I'm thinking of going to Girl & the Goat and trying to snag a bar seat around 8 pm Monday night. Sound feasible? If not, a few friends recommended Purple Pig (no res required, late hours, and I see they have a foie gras smear--haven't had any foie gras since CA banned it), Publican (I love charcuterie and blood sausage), or Maude's (roasted bone marrow, foie gras, salmon tartare all sound good). I saw some recent recs for Purple Pig and Maude's here. I'm planning on grabbing food for the flight home from Tortas Fronteras, so I was going to skip Rick Bayless' other restaurants.

As for breakfast, I love savory breakfasts (not into pastries/pancakes/french toast). I'm considering Little Goat (if I don't get into Girl & Goat, but maybe even if I do as it's 10 minute L ride from my hotel). Jam's menu looks good, but it's a 25 minute L ride. I'd love recommendations that aren't too far from the Loop (just because I get hangry when I don't get food within an hour of waking up!).

Thank you!

Jul 06, 2014
smiles33 in Chicago Area

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

LOL! I am still in awe of Melanie Wong, who seems to have eaten at every restaurant I'm ever been remotely interested in!

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

Thanks!

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

Thanks, hockey! I read your reviews before going--thanks for taking the time to craft such detailed ones.

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

FINAL THOUGHTS

FL was better at:

- Desserts
- bread choices

Meadowood was better at:

- innovative food overall
- making a memorable impression
- cocktail selection

DRAW:
- Service was impeccable at both locations, but I think Meadowood's slightly less formal friendly service was my preference

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

MEADOWOOD DINNER REVIEW

As I alluded to in my review of our lunch at FL, we vastly preferred our Meadowood dinner. I went in with some trepidation given reviews I had read of uninspired and small portions (some diners even going out for fast food afterward!). Perhaps I, too, would have complained of portion size had we not had the FL tasting menu at lunch, but I DEFINITELY think the dishes were creative and inspiring.

I have to say the meal didn't start off very well. The amuse bouche were 3 tiny (like the size of my pinky) garden vegetables that had been marinated in champagne, but they were over-salted and made me blanch. Then the first official course, the cocktail with shellfish, was also incredibly salty. I asked the waiter to request that subsequent dishes use much less salt. From that point on, everything shined!

Stand-outs include the abalone (and you should know I have never liked abalone but was surprised how tender and delicious this was), the wild salmon with the carefully and creatively constructed "skin" (can't recall what it was made out of), and the olive oil coconut borage (I can't even describe how AMAZING this was--the texture, the interplay between the ingredients, the taste!). DH loved the poussin baked in the sourdough bread, and I admit it was the most tender chicken I've had but I'm not a big chicken fan.

Even though the beef dish wasn't as good as the wagyu at FL, DH and I both agreed that it far exceeded the FL's other standard meat courses like the rabbit, the lamb, etc.

We talked about each course and looked forward to subsequent ones with excitement. Note that the waiter asked if we wanted to the see the menu at the beginning or if we preferred to get a copy at the end, and we said we'd be fine being surprised.

The meal was slightly longer than FL, but we were eager to see subsequent courses so it didn't feel rushed at all. DH preferred FL's decor/ambiance, but I liked Meadowood better. There was something peaceful yet upscale about the room. I also loved all the natural light in the room due to dining early in the evening (a summer evening from 5:30-8).

We decided to stick to cocktails instead of ordering wine and were delighted by the creative options and friendly bartender (who talked of making the limoncello from lemons from his mother's house, of making the syrup for the whiskey sour cocktail, etc.). Clearly, this guy loves his job.

So this meal was also about 2 hours, but we spent 10 minutes at the end waiting for our bill and menus to be brought to us. Then we were given a kitchen tour, which was wonderful. I really enjoyed it and noticed 4 guests dining in the kitchen--which the waiter mentioned one can do for a 20 course meal. I want to return to try that on a subsequent special occasion!

Service seemed friendlier and a bit more relaxed. Jackets aren't required here, but suggested, and most patrons were still in jackets (though one guy was in jeans with a casual button-down shirt).

Our menu listed the food in a very modern way as one long run-on sentence (with alternating courses bolded to distinguish between courses). I listed each course on its own line but left out the punctuation as on the original.

Unripe tomato shellfish "cocktail"
cucumber seed risotto coastal grasses
potatoes cooked in beeswax assorted sorrels
abalone charred onions whipped bean brown butter seaweed
wild salmon turnip
chilled pork broth lettuce mustard
poussin baked in bread tiny herbs grist mill dumplings
koji porcini beef
cheese "ham" bread
olive oil coconut borage
silken chocolate panettone
praline

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

FRENCH LAUNDRY REVIEW

So let me preface by stating that overall, this was a delicious meal. Yet context is everything and we were shocked that French Laundry was not as impressive as some of its Michelin-starred peers, nor was it the exquisite meal we expected given its reputation. This is a well-executed meal, but it lacks the personality or edge one expects from a leading restaurant.

At this price point, I assumed it would be a meal in which each course exceeds expectations. Frankly, given the price and the difficulty in securing a reservation, it should have been mind-blowing but it wasn't. At our favorite gourmet meal at Eleven Madison Park in NY, we were astounded by every course--whether it was presentation, creativity, or new flavor profiles. I don't think anything at FL was a surprise.

Reviewing our menu and thinking back on the meal (which clocked in at 2 hours, not 3, so it was quite fast compared to others), the stand-outs were really the amazing desserts and the American Wagyu (which came with a $100 supplement price tag). I'm not even a dessert person, but the creativity, the depth of flavors, and the variety was really impressive. I tried 3 of the chocolate truffles but realized later I probably should have just taken the desserts to go--it would have been great to try more!

Yes, the salmon tartare coronet was delicious as were the "oysters and pearls" caviar dish--which made me optimistic about the rest to come, but the yellowtail, lobster, rabbit, and lamb courses were just good. I didn't care for the hearts of peach palm. We only shared a 1/2 bottle of wine, as we wanted to make sure we had room for dinner at Meadowood at 5:30. At the end of lunch, we left feeling underwhelmed and we both said, "Well, at least we know we won't have any problem eating again in 4 hours."

Service was excellent, as it should be, though the meal was a bit rushed. The building is beautiful and has a more rustic charm to it than one expects for a high-end restaurant. Both these factors may rank highly for others, but they are just nice bonuses for us. It's all about the food for us--whether it's from a charming French cottage or a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon.

The surprise is that so many reviews I read lauded FL and said Meadowood is just sloppy seconds (I thinks someone below even referred to this). So we went into our Meadowood dinner at 5:30 pm with lowered expectations. Will post that in the next post.

Here's the FL menu (not including the salmon coronet):

"Oysters and Pearls"
Salad of Hawaiian Hearst of Peach Palm
Slow Poached Pacific Yellowtail
Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster
Devil's Gulch Ranch Rabbit
Herb Roasted Elysian Fields Farm Lamb (DH had the Charcoal Grilled 100 day Dry-Aged American Wagyu instead)
Consider Bardwell Farms "Pawlet"
"Assortment of Desserts"

Let me know if you have questions or want to know more details about any specific course.

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

Will do a recap tomorrow. Enjoying some coppa, soppressata, and zinfandel in our room and watching a movie. :)

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

We are in the supermarket across the street from our B&B in downtown St. Helena. Awesome meals and we actually thought Meadowood was more innovative and exciting than FL!

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

It's an 11:15 lunch at FL (driving up now) and 5:39 dinner. No wiggle room at Meadowood per the woman who just called me back. I'll come back and update. I had a very light breakfast (I usually eat dinner leftovers for breakfast so I'm a hearty breakfast girl). We are hungry and ready to do this!

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

We love tasting menus. Eaten most recently at Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin and Bouley on our NYC trip last Fall which was a 3 day trip so it was consecutive dinners. EMP was our favorite. We don't regularly splurge but we've tried some other local restaurants that aren't in the same class (Commis, Manresa, Gary Danko, Plumed Horse, Michael Mina, etc.). We like to eat and I normally don't like "dainty" fare (Manresa has that veggie dish with froth that looks like spit-up).

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

But it's $225 per person. So $450 to not eat. I'd rather eat. They called and said as much so we are doing this!

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

LOL. Why not? We only celebrate our 12th anniversary once, right? I think I'd explode, though. I'm the kind of person who can't leave food on the plate unless it's just really disgusting food (I even ate a plate of terrible dense gnocchi once--the sauce tasted good but they weren't light and pillowy at all).

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

That's a great suggestion! I didn't even consider it. DH thinks we can plow through (we DO both have huge appetites) but I just don't know that we will appreciate our second meal just a few hours later! I left a voicemail as Meadowood reservations staff are already gone for the day. Wish us luck!

French Laundry and Meadowood on the SAME day?!?! [Napa Valley]

I'm freaking out a little, as DH and I tried to get FL reservation the moment the reservation window opened for our 12th anniversary but failed (after both calling repeatedly for an hour straight!). They put me on the waiting list when I finally got through that day months ago and just called me NOW to offer us lunch tomorrow. I jumped on it, as we have never been and have tried a few times to get reservations for special occasions. BUT, the big problem is that we already have early dinner reservations at Meadowood tomorrow night (and can't cancel without incurring the $225/person cancellation fee). So we have less than 6 hours between the start of lunch at FL and the start of dinner at M!

How freaking crazy is this going to be? I don't know who to even ask about this IRL so I thought I'd post here for enlightened Chowhounds to advise me. Is this as ridiculous as I think it is? Was I stupid to accept the lunch res? What do I need to know other than DH needs to wear a jacket to FL?

I also can't believe we're about to drop over $1,000 on food alone in one day....

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

We're back! Here's what we ultimately ended up doing:

- We went straight to Geste Shrimp Truck for lunch after landing at the airport. It was good, but not something I would go out of my way for to get again. We had to wait 15 minutes and the only place to sit was a grassy knoll near a huge pile of garbage.

- Our first "dinner" was at Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea. We stayed on California time so it was actually closer to 3 pm and we got to take advantage of great Happy Hour specials, including a margherita pizza for the girls, jalapeno poppers and a ½ butternut squash and ½ mushroom pizza for me, and the mixed raw bar plate and a fresh fish sandwich for my husband. Had a couple of cocktails, too!

- All breakfasts were cooked in our condo (linguica, eggs, and potatoes) so our next meal out was "lunch" at 10:30 am right when they opened at Star Noodle in Lahaina. We ordered steamed pork buns (our favorite), garlic noodles, Filipino “bacon and eggs” (my favorite), pork udon for the girls, roasted mushrooms and miso salmon for my husband (he said they were only ok), scallop shots (a bit overly salty dashi but otherwise delicious), and malasadas with chocolate dipping sauce (obviously, the girls’ favorite!)

- we picked up two orders of shave ice (Keiki Rainbow flavors of Cherry, Banana and Blue Raspberry with macadamia nut ice cream at the bottom) from Ulalani’s in Lahaina for the girls to enjoy on the drive back to Wailea (this was AFTER they had the trio of mini malasadas on sticks!)

- I picked up dinner to go from Eskimo Candy, so the adults had poke bowls and coconut shrimp (best poke and shrimp of the whole trip!) while the girls ate leftover garlic noodles with Filipino bacon and eggs. I wish they were open on weekends, as we definitely would have headed back again! As it was, we had to be at the airport before 10:30 so we didn't get to go back to buy some for the plane!

- We stopped at Home Maid bakery for hot malasadas before going to the Maui Swap Meet. The kids and my husband liked them. I thought they were a bit too doughy.

- Instead of Pacific O, we decided to go more casual. Thus, we had an early lunch at Sea House in Napili, where I had fish tacos, my husband had seared ahi, and the kids ordered off the keiki menu (one got pasta with marinara sauce and the other had the fish-shaped cheese pizza). Delicious food--not necessarily worth the drive from Wailea, but the best food I've had a restaurant with such a gorgeous view. Usually, I'm deeply suspicious of any restaurant with such obvious tourist appeal!

- We ate leftovers for dinner while my husband watched a college football game.

- On Sunday we were going to try Kihei Caffe but we had too much linguica left so we just ate at the condo for breakfast. After the beach, we then headed to Monkeypod Kitchen again for lunch, since it was just minutes away from us and open early. Also, I discovered that Cuatro doesn't serve lunch! We started with poke tacos for the appetizer (decent but not as good as the raw bar mixed plate), and then waited for over 30 minutes for something else to arrive....The meal was so slow that they comp’ed us our entrees. My husband had the Ahi Tuna Melt (delicious!) and I had the macadamia nut and panko-crusted mahi mahi (surprisingly moist, as I usually find mahi mahi dry). The girls each got elbow macaroni with marinara sauce.

- Then an early dinner/happy hour at Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani. This was an unusual last minute replacement as I failed to realize that Amasia didn't start its HH until 5 pm, which was our 4 year old's bedtime! Since it was our last night, we started off with the Double Pineapple Fusion cocktails, which we found too fruity so we ordered Caipiroskas but the waiter brought us Kea Lani Kickers (ginger flavored cocktail) at first so he comp’ed those and then brought the Caiprioskas (which were delicious and the best of the 3). Needless to say, that was quite a bit of alcohol (albeit watered-down resort cocktails!). We ordered lumpia, Korean style spicy chicken (the best of the options, which my eldest daughter loved), Tangled Tiger prawns, and spicy tuna bowl. Their keiki menu had complimentary entrees for kids under 5. Portions were huge, as both girls had spaghetti with meatballs and fresh fruit and ended up eating it again the next day for lunch. Both girls marveled at the beautiful setting, the pools, the view, etc.

- Our last day in the condo we just ate leftovers before heading off to the airport.

Thank you all for your great advice! We were so lucky to have hit some real standout restaurants.

Sep 05, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Yes, I've seen a few opinions that their malasadas are lackluster, but Komoda's is a trek when we aren't planning on heading Upcountry. Can't do the Haleakala trek this trip due to DH's injury. I guess if we have time to go to Surfing Goat dairy, we could head into town to try Komoda's but I imagine they sell out early and wouldn't have much left for a mid-afternoon visit.

Last trip 9 years ago, we ended up getting malasadas from Treats and Sweets (at least they fried them up after we ordered them!). Fingers crossed the Home Maid ones are at least decent if we get them hot off the fryer at 7 am!

Aug 26, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Yeah, I'm super excited to try lots of poke while we're there. I think the Foodland run is mainly to get milk/eggs. I'm still debating whether it's worth going to Costco, as my kids can't finish Costco-size portions of milk and eggs. But DH and I can drink quite a bit...

I didn't realize Kihei Caffee only had that when there are leftovers. I thought it was a weekend treat so I had planned to go on the weekend....I will have to think about if it's worth the trek for a regular breakfast!

Aug 26, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii