Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hali'imaile General Store

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The last time we visited Maui we were really torn as to whether to go to Hali’imaile (hah LEE ee my leh) General Store (aka HGS), or not. We relied pretty heavily on reviews from the internet to help guide our choice. It seemed half of the people said that it was a must stop and the other half had some sort of complaint. In the end we had decided not to go. What a mistake.

Hali'imale General Store

Before this trip we looked at the menu much closer and decided it was too good to pass up. It seems to me that especially in Hawai’i, people have expectations that border on ridiculous. Some complaints were that it was out of the way, overpriced, or the food wasn’t that good.

Out of the way? Yes, if you’re staying in Lahaina, Kapalua, or Hana, it’s going to require some time to get there. Then again if you’re staying in those places you’re going to be far away from everything that isn’t in the immediate area. My guess is that at some point in your trip you will be fairly close to Hali'imaile. It's in the Upcountry and the drive is by no means treacherous. Yes, at night it is dark, but it is only a small stretch of road that you have to really travel in the dark. Whether it’s lunch or dinner you can’t really go wrong with a meal there. It’s casual enough to where you can go on a day trip and not have to be dressed up to stop in (you may want to change out of the “Hang Loose” t-shirt in the car, though).

Overpriced? Relative to the dining experience and the quality of the food, no, it most definitely is not overpriced. It’s actually a little less expensive than the nice restaurants at the big resorts. I think price is a relative thing. If you think it’s going to get Zippy’s prices, then you’re mistaken.

So what about the food? This whole reason we go to the ends of the earth to find out about these places, isn’t it? Going in I was cautiously optimistic. From the outside it’s a very cool looking cream colored plantation style building. As you walk in there’s a main dining room at front with high ceilings. In the back there is another dining area which wasn’t quite as airy as the front. I myself would suggest asking for a table in the front of the restaurant. In the corridor along the kitchen that connects the front to the back there are numerous articles, awards, press related to the restaurant (HGS had even been on the Today Show).

Now comes the best part – the food. Bev Gannon,one of the original Hawaiian Regional Cuisine chefs, has put together a menu that focuses on local ingredients. The portions are a perfect size. Entrees are large enough to where you feel you’re getting what you pay for, yet small enough to where you’re not throwing it away or gorging yourself. I think there’s a level of sophistication in the sauces and glazes that compliment the main ingredients without looking overly fancy. If I had one criticism, it’s that the presentation on the desserts was a little too plain.

Bev’s “Famous” Crab Pizza

Macadamia Nut Crusted Fresh Mahi Mahi with Tropical Fruit Salsa, Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes and Mango Lilikoi Butter Sauce

Grilled Lamb Chops with Black Bean Hunan Sauce and Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Vanilla Bean Cake

Hali’imaile Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

What would I compare it to on Maui? In terms of restaurants in that part of the island I’d say HGS is on par with Mama’s Fish House. That being said, these are two different dining experiences. HGS is more casual in terms of the experience and it's a cheaper alternative. While Mama’s is more of a special occasion type place... slightly dressier and with higher end service. If you’re in the company of those that are intimidated by fancier dining or higher prices, I think HGS is the perfect place to stop.

Hali'imaile General Store
900 Haliimaile Rd
Makawao, HI 96768
(808) 572-2666

Hali'imaile General Store on Urbanspoon

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