*how we rate restaurants
Rated #1 Fine Dining – South Maui
In a nutshell: The setting is only outdone by the service which is only outdone by the cuisine.
Minuses: They don’t have one back home!
My wife and I visited Nick’s Fishmarket last week, and I must say that I had among the very best meals of my life there. Yes, it was that good. Not just the food; on every single point Nick’s got it right.
Nick’s Fishmarket sits in the gardens of the opulent Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea. Much of the seating is outdoors; dining alfresco on Maui makes for a comfortable, relaxed and memorable dining experience.
Nick’s is classy fine dining infused with the comfortable and casual resort attitude that Maui is famous for.
Tip: Since Nicks is just a few hundred yards back from Polo Beach, you may want to show up at the beach a half an hour early for a romantic stroll.
If you’re a stickler for attentive service you’ll be in heaven. Nick’s Fishmarket delivers a team of skilled waitstaff at your beck and call. This attention to service starts the moment you step through the restaurant gate. When we arrived we were instantly greeted by the friendly hostess and ushered to our table without delay.
Throughout our meal, our water glasses were never allowed to approach bottom, and whatever we needed – be it a question about the menu, more bread or beverages, the staff knew instantaneously. I’ve noticed a handful of folks on the sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor actually complaining that there is too much service! I can’t disagree with that more. I certainly don’t like being intruded upon, and especially on date night with my wife (something we don’t get enough of these days) – we never felt like any staff member was there at any time other than exactly when we wanted them.
While most restaurants on Maui don’t require a reservation, Nick’s is very popular, and making reservations is a must.
The wine cellar is world class, with about 2,000 bottles to choose from, and has been consistently awarded as among the most outstanding in the world.
Nick’s menu offerings don’t fit into a pigeonhole category – “Mediterranean Rim” is the term most often used to describe the cuisine (Pacific Rim cuisine with Mediterranean flair.)
Now at the risk of outing myself as an unrefined heathen, I knew Nick’s had done the food right when I caught myself, many times, making audible “mmmmmm” sounds while my eyes rolled back into my head. No, my horrified wife will be the first to tell you, I’m not kidding. Imagine a three-year-old going primal on an ice cream sundae – but in a 40-year-old man’s body at a fine restaurant. Yup, that was me.
So, with that image in your mind’s eye, I’ll go on to describe the heavenly meal Kira and I shared:
We decided to forego salads and started our meal sharing two appetizers with deceiving names: “Kalua Pig Pot Stickers” and “Poi Pounder.”
The Pot stickers were unique, and delicious. Most definitely added a new dimension to what I understood could be called by the modest name “pot sticker” – these were prepared with a caramelized Maui pineapple curry. Five stars.
The second app was the “Poi Pounder” – which I assume is a play on words with the “pounder” part of the name (poi is the pounded starchy taro root of traditional Hawaiian fare – and there was none to be found here!) My Poi Pounder appeared as raw ahi perfection presented atop yummy blue crab salad. A spicy wasabi aioli added a distinctive zing of horseradish when liberated from its role of artful pate decoration. “mmmmm!”
On to our entrées – Kira had the opakapaka which came in a lemon butter & caper sauce. My wife likes zen simplicity when it comes to her fish – so she ordered the opakapaka with the sauce on the side. When the dish was served, I tried it both with and without the sauce – I can’t overstate how much Kira was missing out on – this sauce complimented the fish so well it should be illegal; once these two were united with my taste buds, my eyeballs rolled to the back of my head and “mmmmm!”
I also ordered fish (hello, “Fishmarket” is the name!!) – for me it was the grilled Hawaiian opah. Served encrusted in candied peanut, Thai red curry-coconut, and artfully stacked center-plate sandwiched in layers of Thai sticky rice and blue crab slaw. Kira sure was spending quite a lot of time looking at the whites of my eyes while Opah and I spent some some quality time together.
So, after savoring our out of this world entrées we debated the rationale of desert. Kira was more reluctant to cross over the line of excessive indulgence, but she graciously offered to keep me company by offering “I’ll take a bite or two and bring the rest home for the kids.”
In a few minutes a gigantic oblong bowl that looked like it was purpose made to hold my generous bananas Foster sat before me. Kira had gone with the apple pie. I won’t talk about eyes rolling back or mmmmms any more (they kept coming) but I will say that the kids won’t miss any apple pie that they don’t know about 🙂
Other Reviews: *ordered by accuracy