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Mulligans on the Blue: Bogeys and Birdies

Posted July 18, 2014, 05:13 PM HST Updated July 18, 2014, 05:27 PM HST
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By Vanessa Wolf

The restaurant sits on the Old Blue golf course. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The restaurant sits on the Old Blue golf course. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Mulligans on the Blue in Wailea is a veritable Maui institution known for Thursday quiz nights, rowdy St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and regular doses of the musical magic that is Willie K.

But how’s the food?

Happily, there are some reliable pub standards available.

However, much like the golf slang for which the restaurant is (presumably) named, there are definitely some offerings in need of a do-over.

The Caesar Salad ($8) may be better off finishing up the composting process it had already started.

Arguably, by ordering a salad in an Irish pub we got what was coming to us… and what came to us was wilted, bland and wholly unappealing.

The Chicken Wings are a solid bet. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Chicken Wings are a solid bet. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

We reckon a chunk of divot may be tastier; definitely fresher.

The listless lettuce had seen (far) better days and the housemade Caesar dressing could use some lemon, anchovy and garlic tout de suite. On the upside, these are issues easily addressed.

Meanwhile, the Chicken Wings ($10/$8 Happy Hour) are spot on.

Seven (or six at HH) wings are crisply fried – sans batter, as nature/Buffalo intended – and tossed in a classic butter and Tabasco sauce.

As the Irish saying goes, “what butter and whiskey won’t cure, there is no cure for.”

These wings may not be able to take on cancer, but we bet they’ll pull you through a lousy day with a spicy orange smile.

The Nachos are as colorful as a trip to the carnival. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Nachos are as colorful as a trip to the carnival. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Mulligans Nachos ($7) are also spicy and orange, but in a hardcore junk food kind of way.

Feeling like you’re not getting enough Red Dye #40 in your diet?

The fiesta starts with a layer of multicolored chips, which are then liberally topped with the type of cheez typically dispensed with a pump.

The generous portion of guacamole is an unexpectedly fresh and pleasing touch, however.

We shouldn’t have added on the Corned Beef ($2) as it was dry and stringy and seemed like leftovers, but hindsight…

Regardless, no nutritionist on earth has ever put anyone on a diet of nachos, but sometimes tastebuds want what they want. Here’s your chance to go big or go home when you’re so inclined.

The front deck. Beware the birdies. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The front deck/dining area. Beware the birdies. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

It’s important to note that Mulligans is – first and foremost – a bar.

It’s large and airy, with high wood ceilings and plenty of outdoor seating. Depending upon where you sit, you’ll likely experience sports announcers in one ear and fiddle or (ugh) bagpipe music in the other.

Block one out by focusing on some Fried Calamari Steaks ($12 – four pieces/$7 HH) instead.

The HH portion arrives with three fat chunks of well-prepared squid steak. Lightly battered, quickly cooked and not at all chewy, why it was served on a pillow of haggard cabbage remains a mystery.

We recommend a smaller plate and a proper funeral for the geriatric garnish.

The HH portion of Calamari. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The HH portion of Calamari. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The “Sweet Thai Chile Aioli” looked and tasted like honey mustard dressing, but was acceptable.

Mulligan’s most celebrated dish is their Fish and Chips ($14/$7 HH), and for good reason.

The Bass beer-based batter is light and airy. The fish itself is freshly fried and comes out crisp and hot every time.

The accompanying thick steak fries are also fresh and clearly prepared to order.

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All told, this is about as close as it gets to a culinary hole-in-one.

Meanwhile, service is universally

1) congenial

2) zombified

The Fish and Chips are where it's at. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Fish and Chips are where it’s at. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

There must be a special assessment performed during the hiring process to achieve this. It doesn’t seem to matter if the place is packed or empty, expect to wait. And wait. And wait.

On all three visits, our waitresses were pleasant and amiable, but displayed the enthusiasm and hustle of post-lobotomy patients.

This isn’t so bad if you’ve got the time for a leisurely visit, but can be frustrating if there are issues with the food or you’re being attacked by birds.

Wait.

What?

Yep. Brace yourselves, as events on the front deck can get positively Hitchcockian.

Underestimate these little jerks at your own risk. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Underestimate these little jerks at your own risk. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Aggressive house finches are an issue at restaurants all over the island, but the ones camping out at Mulligans may have what it takes to overthrow governments.

On one occasion, two of the little feathered beasts flew into our dining companion’s hair as part of what was later revealed as a complex plot to aid and abet their ringleader in liberating the better part of a potato taco.

One even managed to become airborne – for a second – with an entire calamari steak.

We’re not blaming the restaurant for this evil genius bird business, but holy spontaneous ornithophobia.

BYO Breadcrumbs or a Beekeeper’s hood.

The Potato Tacos could be something special with a little tweaking... and none of that awful cabbage. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Potato Tacos could be something special with a little tweaking… and none of that elderly cabbage slaw. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Did somebody say Potato Tacos ($10/$7 at Happy Hour)?

We found them an interesting idea that showed potential, but failed on execution.

The corn tortilla shell had clearly come in contact with oil at some point, but not nearly enough. All three were crisp on one side and damp and greasy on the other, rendering them unpleasantly chewy.

Filled with beautiful slices of perfect avocado and some bland mashed potato patties, they lack balance. Unfortunately, the chili lime sauce didn’t pack enough punch to help.

And the browning cabbage slaw/gastrointestinal disaster waiting to happen?

We couldn’t get over how putrid it looked and picked it all out.

The cabbage liberated from our Potato Tacos. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The cabbage liberated from our Potato Tacos. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Even the greedy birds turned their beaks up at the decaying brassica.

We suggest re-envisioning the whole thing as a taquito, adding some jalapeno to the potatoes, ditching the decrepit cabbage and serving some guacamole and/or the chile lime sauces on the side.

Until then, wishing you fairways, greens and fresh cabbage.

*******

Mulligans on the Green is located at 100 Kaukahi Street in Wailea.

They are open from 11 a.m .to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

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