Fleetwood’s on Front Street OpensAugust 7, 2012, 11:44 AM HST · Updated August 11, 1:57 PM 0 Comments
Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef, previously working in Portland, Oregon. She offers her blunt assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.
By Vanessa Wolf
Standing 6’6” and having founded and remained an active member of one of the biggest bands of all time, it’s safe to say Mick Fleetwood is not subtle.
The same can be said for his brand new restaurant in Lahaina, Fleetwoods on Front Street. The space is at once lavish and welcoming, featuring a large bar, ample dining room dripping with portraits of 70s rock gods, and a stunning roof top terrace with a decidedly Moroccan vibe.
Scott Leibfried, known to reality TV fans as Gordon Ramsey’s sidekick on both the Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares series, heads up the kitchen. The resulting menu is something of a Maui meets grown-up pub food affair. Only four days into operations and our generally well-informed waitress seemed confused by a few menu items, indicating changes are already underway. Presumably this will be the norm for the first few months, as Chef Leibfried becomes adjusted to what products he can and can’t consistently obtain here on Maui.
Maui Now sampled a range of items from the comfort food-based menu, starting with the Roasted Maui Tomato Soup ($8), one of the few vegan offerings. The San Marzano-based soup, finished with a basil oil, was thick and rich with tomato flavor. In truth, it fell a little more on the pomodoro sauce side than soup, but one presumes many of these items will be reworked in the upcoming weeks. It was accompanied by a wholly unremarkable piece of toast with some sharp cheddar melted on top.
The clam chowder ($10), however, was outstanding. Rich, flavorful, and dense with clams, it was everything one would hope. The accompanying package of Westminster oyster crackers (“the chef’s favorite crackers”) were hardly necessary, and the first spoonful made it clear why this chowder has won awards.
The hand-formed Wild Mushroom Ravioli ($12) were presented in a bath of a buttery, sherry-flavored veloute (butter sauce) finished with sliced mushrooms and shaved Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese. The six sachettes were perfectly tender and burst with the earthy flavor of savory wild mushrooms.
The Crispy Skin Half Chicken ($26) was only crispy in a few spots: fix that, and it’s to die for. The meat was cooked perfectly and rested upon a pillow of impossibly buttery mashed potatoes. The super lemony au jus-style gravy was the highlight of the meal. If there’s a hot tub filled with it somewhere on this island, someone drop us a line and we’re there.
Our second entrée, Pacific Mahi Mahi ($28) materialized as the Chicken Curry ($18). This oops was no doubt the product of an earlier menu discussion with the waitress. She was suitably apologetic, and we ended up keeping the second chicken dish. A modified Massaman-style curry, the bowl contained large chunks of white meat chicken and fingerling potatoes with some golden raisins, carrots, and cashews thrown in for good measure. All in all it was a perfectly fine curry, the sophisticated version of the English pub offering, and with a notably spicy kick.
The meal was finished off with the Berries and Cream Shortcake ($12), the shortcake actually being thin slices of lemon pound cake adorned with Kula strawberries and homemade whipped cream. The menu mentioned “candied” mint leaves, which would probably be preferable to the handful of fresh ones scattered on the actual dessert. The flavor was perfectly acceptable, although not particularly memorable.
For the fourth night of a soft opening of a brand new venue, the food and service were great and the atmosphere and ambiance outstanding. It is safe to assume that the menu offerings will tighten and improve in the upcoming months, transforming great bones into an amazing experience.
Mick Fleetwood himself is in the bar or on the rooftop terrace most nights and a red flag outside the restaurant indicates his presence. This is the third eponymous restaurant for the rock star: the first and second “Fleetwoods,” in Arlington Virginia and West Hollywood, respectively, folded in the 1990s. Here’s hoping for Mick and Maui alike that the third time’s the charm.