The Four Seasons Maui is the most expensive hotel on the island. This trip was our second time here, my wife Robin enjoying, as I did, the wonderful service and special attention to detail of staying in an expensive hotel. Our basic room was, mind you, over three minutes on foot away from the elevators and lobby for over C$800 per night, but once down by the poolside the services were wonderful and so was the people-watching, never mind this time the weather was mostly overcast and at times raining.
The first time we were here it was Robin’s last decade-birthday, and it was quite wonderful. This time, food in the various restaurants and our experience was mixed.
This is the beach-side casual dining venue, where at first it seemed almost impossible to make a reservation online, but we found we could just walk up and either sit at the bar or find a table.
It was a bit noisy and I embarrassed myself by asking the server to turn down the music, only to find that it was actually a live combo, although they were heavily amplified. We had a lovely table beside a low hedge looking right out on the ocean, but next to us were three tattooed kids, the boys with flat-peaked caps, talking as if the whole room needed to hear them.
The meatballs were tasty in a tomato sauce with herbs. We shared an Italian sausage pasta which was really very good. Our server was somehow… perhaps overly offhand? He seemed to be reciting things by rote without much interest or involvement, asking the standard questions and making the standard comments, but metaphorically not making conversational eye contact. I guess he should be doing something technical rather than dealing with people. Expensive for the experience except for the real estate.
Anyway food 8.6, service 6.9, atmosphere 8.7, value 7.1, peace and quiet 7.4.
This is the steak house, certainly no bargain-basement but a respectable-quality purveyor of beautifully prepared fat and protein. There twice, I had a delicious perfectly-cooked rare ribeye ($US47 just for the steak), and subsequently a fairly normal hamburger with no mayonnaise. Robin had a delicious tuna dish with rice. On our second night we were very impressed indeed with a 48 hour short rib that had been done at around 130°. Magnificently tender and of the short-rib-as-steak presentation now quite common with the use of sous vide, first experienced by us at Momofuku Toronto.
The service was high-class, especially the second night where a delightful fellow with a sense of humour and good knowledge of wine seemed to genuinely want us to have an exemplary experience.
Duo by morning becomes the Four Seasons breakfast scene (hotel guests only), where for $45 you can stuff yourself ad lib with pretty much anything you can think of (although no eggs Benedict!). Immediately following inhaling half the bacon and Portuguese sausage available I feel like one of those giant snakes that has just unhooked its jaw and encompassed a small antelope.
Three kinds of freshly-squeezed juices, a big variety of medium-quality breakfast baked goods, lots of fruit (of course), a platter of creamy smoked salmon with half a dozen accompaniments, a build-an-omelette show behind the counter with a dozen fillings, hash browns, Asian dumplings, six kinds of bread… on and on. Coffee is extra. It’s a comfortably noisy chattering open-to-the-outside atmosphere with kids everywhere and little birds swooping down to fatten themselves on crumbs of bread and french fries.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag but overall food (breakfast 7.8 dinner 8.9), service (breakfast
n/a, dinner 9.1), ambience 8.9, value 7.3.
This is the name they’ve given to Wolfgang Puck’s high-end eatery in this pretentious hotel. Ten years ago we had dinner here and my recollection is pleasant. This time not quite so much.
On our big night on Robin’s decade birthday she made a reservation for 545, but the message was “first-come first-served” in respect of where one was seated. We arrived punctually, and surveying the scene the seating was a long thin space reaching out toward a balcony that overlooked the ocean. A pretty young employee took us to an empty indoor space, and when we asked to be seated outside she said she would have to check with her hostess. This resulted in a table well at the back, while it was clear that there were several open tables at the front overlooking the ocean. I asked to see the hostess, explained that this was a special birthday and that we had come to the hotel for a week particularly to enjoy this evening. The hostess moved us a few tables closer to the ocean but still well back from other unoccupied nicer tables.
I went back to the hostess and asked her what that situation was all about, and she explained that tables had been requested by people (whose reservations were at various times) at 5 pm, when reservations opened. I told her we hadn’t been aware of that kind of priority, and again reminded her of the special nature of our celebration. She said she would try to do something about that.
We returned to our seats, and a few minutes later an Asian man who appeared to be a teenager introduced himself as the manager of the restaurant. He said he would give us a lovely table, and took us into the patio area where the best tables overlooking the ocean were located. It turned out in the end that a couple of these (although not the one he had given us) got rained on and so were useless.
After all this circus, we found a reasonably-priced Burgundy from our old friend Tollot-Beaut and ordered that and a couple of cocktails. The server was a strange guy, edging between extensive knowledge of food and wine and just bafflegab. He was charming though, and eventually we decided he was the best thing about this restaurant.
Our starters were interesting and tasty. Robin had a cone of raw shellfish that was crispy outside but a bit gooey inside, and I had braised pork belly done Asian which was beautiful in consistency and flavour. There was an amuse-bouche of tuna that was ordinary in flavour. I ordered the pan-roasted chicken from a menu of mains that were nearly all tuna-based, but ended with chicken, pork, and steak. I wasn’t in the mood for seafood.
The cadence of service was slow which was fine for us. When the chicken arrived however it was a full half-chicken which had been properly cooked so it was tender, but accompanied by an indifferent sauce and a pillow of mashed potatoes. There was no real flavour except minimal taste of cooked chicken. It filled a very large plate with flavourless chicken and mashed potato. I left 2/3 of it behind.
Our dinner was about $310 US after the tip.
What a disappointment and bore to be treated as though we should have understood the reservation system when it wasn’t properly publicized, then to have to fight for a nice table for my wife’s special birthday to the point where the front-end staff weren’t making eye contact or responding to apologies. And then to experience the grand deluxe media personality Wolfgang Puck’s food as completely ordinary. Because I wasn’t interested in his signature seafood I ordered one of the default American specials (in this case chicken) and was presented with what I guess Wolfgang Puck has decided is what Americans holidaying in Maui want: BIG quantity, with mashed potatoes.
I won’t be going back to that place again if I can avoid it. Food (average) 8.1, service 8.8, ambience 9.2 (but get ready to fight for a decent table), value 6.8, peace and quiet 9.0.