MERRIMAN’S KAPALUA, MAUI

A gorgeous slice of West Maui oceanfront in Kapalua Resort is the setting for a restaurant that serves up ocean scenery as savory as the freshly plated seafood and beef dishes. Merriman’s jewel is perched on a secluded point at the resort, where superb sunsets are rivaled only by wok-charred Ahi sashimi that melts in your mouth or lobster dripping in butter.

Peter Merriman, Chef and Restraunteur pioneered the farm-to-table concept maintaining that only the finest organic and sustainable products are sourced from the surrounding Hawaiian Islands. Dubbed the “Pied Piper of Hawaii Regional Cuisine” by The Los Angeles Times, Merriman is a constant inspiration to Hawaii’s thriving culinary scene. Surprisingly, 25 years ago no one dreamed of growing vine-ripened tomatoes, baby lettuce or sweet corn in Hawaii. It was all sugar cane and pineapple plantations back then. Most of the real food came from thousands of miles away. “Locavore” Peter had a vision for local agriculture and it began in Hawaii’s rich volcanic soils. He and twelve other chefs encouraged farmers to grow local produce, raise livestock locally and embark on a healthier and more sustainable Hawaii.

One of the best things about Merriman’s Maui restaurant—besides swoon-worthy views and an award-winning menu is the friendly service that reflects the true Aloha spirit of the amazing and welcoming people here. Hawaii is the leased stressed state in the country and everyone is said to have a little more patience and empathy. Of course, it’s hard to be anything but with the rolling waves as the background for an extraordinary dining experience. Plus, there’s live music nightly from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and happy hour specials.

Much like the Hawaiian lifestyle, Merriman’s preparations are simple, flavorful and fresh. There are many different menu options too. Pupu, or appetizers for us back here in the mainland, include Kalua pig and sweet onion quesadilla, hot seared ono, vabatelli pasta (house-made) and escargot, among others. Dirt farm salad starters include warm goat cheese and arugula, fresh lobster, Caesar salad—all earth grown. The fresh fish of the day is boat caught nightly and presented with seasonal local ingredients. When it comes to wine, the same core values of sourcing local hold true. The restaurant supports small-scale family wineries that celebrate regional diversity and varietal integrity. Winemakers whose grapes end up in a stem at Merriman’s have proven to employ sustainable, organic and biodynamic methods in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellar, from the finest Riesling to a light-hearted rosé.

Peter’s other endeavors include Merrimans, in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii. Here, he received the title “A gourmet in cowboy country,” by Hana Hou!, the magazine of Hawaiian Airlines. Merriman also has a Fish House in Poipu, Kauai and down the street from it, Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza & Burgers. A casual dining concept called Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is another fast-growing Maui and Oahu chain.

Photos courtesy of Merriman’s Kapalua.