Saturday, 30 August 2014

Cane and Canoe - Maui, Hawaii

This is a new restaurant, recently opened in June of 2014, just a matter of months before our arrival. It's housed in a relatively new luxury hotel, Montage Kapalua Bay, replacing some very exclusive and private residences that have been there since the Kapalua Bay Hotel was destroyed in 2006.

During the time of the Bay Hotel, a restaurant on the property housed several mural sized paintings by the iconic Hawaiian artist, Pegge Hopper. When the hotel was removed, there were many questions regarding the whereabouts of these exquisite works. We found the answer at The Montage Kapalua Bay when visiting Cane and Canoe for dinner.

Upon entering the hotel, two areas on the main floor proudly present Hopper's treasures. We were so excited and relieved to see them, it started a conversation with some of the staff. We were told that the pieces were found sitting in a dumpster - yes, the perfect spot for what are obviously works of some size and skill. In addition, it was discovered that another creation had ended up in another area of the island and was in the process of being returned to its rightful place. It is believed that Ms. Hopper herself returned to do some touch ups on the paintings prior to their re-hanging. There are a total of six or seven of them currently on display in various areas of the hotel. Hooray for the Montage!

Reclining Woman and Flowers

Woman Under Palm Tree

Two of these places are in the Cane and Canoe restaurant and lounge. The dining area is an open, airy outdoor space with wonderful natural wood and stone. The chairs are made in a woven design with several fabric covered banquettes adorned with multi-coloured throw pillows. As the sun dipped beyond the horizon, contemporary tiki torches were lit for a more intimate dining experience.

For starters, I had a light hamachi poke. Hamachi is yellowtail and poke is the Polynesian version of a ceviche - small cubes of the fresh fish mixed with herbs in a light sauce. This one sat on a bed of paper-thin slices of cucumber and was topped with chopped avocado and a dollop of local caviar. Paired with it was a handful of house made fingerling potato chips.

My husband started with the Keahole lobster bisque. It was a tad thinner than the typical creamy bisque and made with local Kona lobster. Kona is an area on the Big Island, otherwise known as Hawaii. The bisque had a rectangular piece of herbed bread in the centre of the bowl topped with some lobster knuckle meat and spread along the inside of the bowl was Greek yogurt for a bit of tang. It had a more unusual flavour than the traditional kind made with Atlantic lobster.

Our server brought us an extra taste - his favourite item on the menu. A play on the traditional Chinese noodle dish, Chow Fun; instead of noodles, thin slices are calamari are used. Join this with charred scallions, crispy bean sprouts, smothered kale and spicy slices of lap cheong, a Chinese sausage, and a flavourful appetizer is born.

My entree was a lovely, tender piece of monchong fish in a rich flavoured broth and surrounded by potato gnocchi, marinated cherry tomatoes and strips of braised fennel. The fish was topped by two beautifully prepared Kauai shrimp. My husband's main course was grilled blue marlin. His fish swam in a lighter broth along with sliced new potatoes, bacon, Manila clams and braised radish and turnip. Both dishes were so delicious, it's going to be difficult to try something new on our next visit.

As if we weren't full enough - but dessert had to be sampled if for no other reason than to report it on this blog. So, we shared what can only be likened to beignets. These are a New Orleans staple, akin to donuts but without the hole and they are just soooo much better. So, these beignets type pieces were sprinkled with granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar. This automatically negates the choking and coughing that ensues when one accidentally inhales the powdered version. And they were served with two dipping sauces - mocha chocolate and maple bacon. Now, I know for some people like my husband, anything containing the word 'bacon' naturally means unbelievably good but I just can't seem to marry a breakfast meat with a sweet finish to a lovely, sophisticated meal. But he enjoyed it all the same.

A small note about the new restaurant's logo that I think bears mentioning. One of the great crafts made by Hawaiian artisans is the quilt and quilted items. Each has a very distinct design that symbolizes something special to the artist. On the aprons of the staff at Cane and Canoe is one of these designs. It is 'X' over cross shaped in embroidered purple. The cross lines are canoes standing on end and the 'X' piece is the leaf of the sugar cane plant. It's a minor thing but something that took consideration. It reflects Chef Riko Bartolome's dedication to the use of local Hawaiian resources.

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