Side Dish by Gossip Gourmet

Comings and goings in the restaurant world.

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sidedishLet’s start with the good news, shall we? The savvy folks behind the curtain at Old Lahaina Lu‘au know how to mix a mai tai and a good dashi. Hula on over to their new soup kitchen, Star Noodle House, scheduled to open any day now in the new industrial park above Lahaina Cannery Mall.

Another restaurant waiting in the wings promises to be super chic (pronounced suuupairrr-sheeeeek with a heavy French accent). Well-known wine guy Travis Takahashi is busy brewing up the wine program for Bin 69. The new Wailea Town Center tavern will feature 300+ wines by the bottle and (you guessed it) 69 wines by the glass. If diners discover a bottle they can’t live without, they can march next door to Wailea Wine & Spirits, which will carry much of the same stock. How neighborly!

Bin 69’s culinary team debuted at the Maui Film Festival’s Taste of Wailea, spooning watermelon curry gazpacho, paprika-dusted shrimp, and mushroom ravioli with truffle sea salt, micro celery and baby arugula into the mouths of celebrities and locals alike.

(You can tell these guys are cutting-edge; they use mini-veggies.)

Speaking of the film festival—I confess I missed the chocolate bikini-clad models at Duo. Hmmm . . . sounds like a new version of “death by chocolate” to me. If you too missed summer’s best food festivals (Maui Film and the Kapalua Wine & Food Festivals) queue up now for the Taste of Lahaina. Taste celebrates its Sweet Sixteenth this year, with twenty five restaurants competing for your scrip September 14 to 15 from 5 to 10 p.m.

Sigh. Now for the bad news: This summer saw the loss of many great dining rooms. Your faithful Gossip remains in mourning black, with a stiff upper lip and undiminished appetite. Join me in a moment of silence, while we reflect on their passing.

GOSSIP GOURMET’S OBITS

Tasting’s Wine Bar & Grill. After a long battle to stay afloat amidst South Kihei Road’s karaoke bars and tiki rooms, this brave epicurean enclave closed its doors. Chef McCarthy’s highly personal tasting menus cannot be replaced.

E & O Trading Company. Survived by a restaurant of the same name and better location on O‘ahu. The fresh corn fritters and pomegranate martinis will be sorely missed.

Le Petit Gourmand. This petit cafe enjoyed a petit life; in a blink of an eye, it was gone. Survived by elder sibling Chez Paul. Fire may have contributed to early demise. (Chef Patrick Callarec deserves some consolation—both his restaurants and his home nearly went up in flames during July’s 2,600-acre blaze.)

Cloud Nine Café. Murdered by outdoor kitchen permitting issues. Survived by catering company.

Vino. Closed suddenly, due to loss of blood resulting from the Ritz-Carlton’s massive renovation. Survived by D.K. Kodama’s culinary empire. The loss of the house-made raviolis continues to haunt us.

The Banyan Tree, twice voted Restaurant of the Year by MNKO readers, also closed for the duration of the Ritz-Carlton’s renovation. (It’s not dead yet, only sleeping. . . .) Former Executive Chef Jojo Vasquez hinted that the right West Side locale might woo him to open something of his own. . . .

Other delicious rumors: Chef David Paul (the original owner of the restaurant of the same name) is also scouting for someplace new to hang his apron on the West Side. Meanwhile, Mark Ellman is reportedly on the other end of the island, shopping for a Wailea version of Mala.

A watched pot never boils, but we can’t help but lick our chops in anticipation of new culinary stars rising on the horizon. This biz is hard and only buoyed by foolhardy passion.

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