Maui Food and Dining

Gannon’s: Wailea’s Best Value Happy Hour

March 15, 2013, 5:54 PM HST
* Updated March 15, 7:01 PM
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Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef. She offers her frank assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.

By Vanessa Wolf

I feel hungry just looking at those onion rings. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

We feel hungry just looking at those onion rings. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

It takes a certain lifestyle, coupled with an uncommonly flexible schedule and a particular zeal for finger foods to really appreciate a good happy hour.

However, if you are of that ilk, you pretty much cannot go wrong at Gannon’s.

The food is notably well-priced (albeit portions are scaled accordingly), but the milieu is unparalleled.

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Some of us have a weak spot for grease, and that’s probably why the Basket of Onion Rings ($4) are the favorite. What’s not to love? Panko’ed and crisp, they are clearly made in-house and accompanied by a fantastic ranch dressing. Good stuff.

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What goes better with deep fried things than beer? Gannon’s has a well-versed tap offering Guinness, Stella Artois, Newcastle for the limeys in the mix, and a Big Swell IPA for those that are the opposite of Newcastle fans. $3 a glass and $2 for domestics? No argument here.

The BBQ Ribs. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The BBQ Ribs. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The BBQ Ribs with Cole Slaw ($9) are a solid choice. You get four falling-off-the-bone ribs accompanied by a fresh, crisp, gingery Asian-ish Cole slaw. Surrounding tables revealed couples ordering nothing else.

The Trio of Deviled Eggs ($7) resulted in controversy. Arguably it’s truth in advertising, but if you want to get technical, it’s one and a half eggs. If you make the assumption that a “deviled egg” is half an egg then… yeah.

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Moreover, although clever and quite appealing in concept and appearance, it doesn’t quite work in real life. The crab egg was notably fishy. All three fillings seemed to be exactly the same, with a heavy smoke (smoked salmon?) overtone. The unique fish/seafood flavors get lost competing with the strong, but watery egg filling.

Maybe dial back the price – and the deviled egg yolk part – to let the rest shine?

The Crab Cake sliders. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Crab Cake sliders. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The Trio of Crab Cake Sliders ($7), however, are a home run. The same gingery, sesame oil-infused cole slaw accompanying the ribs makes a reappearance atop three good, traditional breadcrumb-based crab cakes snuggled in buns.

In contrast, the Trio of Pulled Pork Sliders ($7) are really bland and the buns were hooked together in a Siamese twin “straight out of the package” fashion, not that that’s the end of the world. Still, think pork on a bun, and you’ve got it. If ever there were a Bat Signal needed for barbeque sauce, mustard, wasabi, Sriracha, horseradish, anything, this is it.

The Crab Dip with Corn Chips ($5) is another good choice. It seemed to be the same (or at least a minor variation on) the crab dip offered at the other Gannon-owned establishments. It’s rich, creamy, and served Kilauea molten lava hot.

Pork Sliders. We are Siamese if you please. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Pork Sliders. We are Siamese if you please. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

If you value the roof of your mouth, give it a few minutes to bubble down before digging in. Also, note that “corn chips” means tortilla chips (not Fritos, which for some reason came to mind), although there were a few potato chips in the mix as well, as apparently they were running out.

The BBQ Chicken Nachos “Dip” ($6) is where the barbecue sauce missing from the pork sliders went. It’s kind of a chili with black beans, chicken chunks, and cheese. We weren’t huge fans, but if you like chili you probably will be.

Lastly, the Chicken Wings ($6) are small but pack a memorable punch. Breaded, fried, and (tastes like) dredged in sweet chili sauce, there’s some pretty intense afterburn action. They have a smattering of cilantro and peanuts on top, giving them a vaguely Thai essence. We’d order them again.

Aside from the excellent beer options/prices and interesting and sophisticated cocktail menu, Gannons is an unabashed nirvana from which to take in a sunset. It’s truly jaw-dropping gorgeous.

The deviled eggs are quite fetching. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The deviled eggs are quite fetching. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Service often suffers at happy hour. This is no exception. Simply stated: prepare to wait and/or have weird things go on, particularly if you are a small party.

Order another drink and no doubt it will pass. Soon your onion rings will arrive and none of those little disturbances will even come to mind when you reflect on your overall experience.

Nothing is perfect, and Gannon’s gets a lot of important stuff right.

We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)

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