5 Fabulous Filets

A team of faithful taste testers seek out the finest filets on Maui: five steaks at establishments renowned for their preparation and rated on three criteria on a scale from one to ten.

Story by Heidi Pool

TASTE – Juiciness, flavor, texture, and use of seasonings and sauces
INNOVATION – New techniques for preparing the perfect filet
VALUE – Our somewhat subjective assessment of whether the filet is worth the price

maui filet mignonLAHAINA GRILL

127 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina
(808) 667-5117
Hours: Dinner 6 p.m.

Taste: 8.5 | Innovation: 8 | Value: 8.5
Overall Score: 25 | Price: $$$$

If you want to see and be seen, Lahaina Grill is your venue. This lively eatery in the heart of Lahaina has a cosmopolitan vibe reminiscent of the great restaurants of Europe; its refined cuisine is an ideal match for vintage architectural details such as wainscoting and wood window casements. The Grill’s seven-ounce Midwestern filet is barrel cut — one grade above center cut. Executive Chef Arnulfo Gonzalez cooks it about three-and-a-half minutes on each side at medium-high heat, then lets the steak rest for ten minutes, for a true medium rare. It’s served atop soul-satisfying herbed mashed potatoes, and enhanced with sauce Bearnaise and whole-grain mustard/port wine demi-glace. One whiff of the demi-glace’s earthy aroma, and we were sold. Roasted carrots, asparagus, and an epic Roma tomato bursting with flavor complete this palate pleaser.

MAKAWAO STEAK HOUSE

3612 Baldwin Avenue, Makawao
(808) 572-8711
Hours: Dinner Tuesday-Sunday, 5-9 p.m.

Taste: 9 | Innovation: 7 | Value: 10
Overall Score: 26 | Price: $$

When veteran Maui restaurateurs Michael and Dana Pastula of Cafe O’Lei fame purchased the Makawao Steak House last summer, they quickly put their signature on this Upcountry institution: quality food and service at affordable prices. Mosey on in and warm yourself by the fireplace while you sink your teeth into a seven-ounce filet of Midwestern beef that’s been charbroiled to perfection by Chef Orlando Acevedo, who believes in simplicity: season steaks with salt and pepper, and “Let the beef speak for itself.” A dreamy shiitake mushroom sauce served alongside nicely complements. Keeping with the rustic paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) decor, steaks are served chuck-wagon style with no-nonsense baked beans in a whimsical cast-iron pot, and focaccia with tangy kalamata olive aioli. We found the side dishes, such as buttermilk mashed potatoes, irresistible. The salad bar is a $3 upgrade, and worth every penny.

maui filet mignonRUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE

3750 Wailea Alanui, Wailea
(808) 874-8880
Hours: Dinner 5-10 p.m.

900 Front St., Lahaina
(808) 661-8815
Hours: Dinner Monday-Friday 4-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 5-10 p.m.

Taste: 9.5 | Innovation: 8 | Value: 8
Overall Score: 25.5 | Price: $$$$

At Ruth’s Chris, you hear the sizzle before the steak makes its grand entrance. Presented on a plate heated to 500 degrees, with butter oozing down the sides, this eleven-ounce filet is a tasty piece of USDA Midwestern beef. The secret is an 1,800-degree oven that locks in the meat’s juices. At the Wailea location, Chef Daniel Bader prepares the filet to just under desired doneness; it finishes cooking on the searing-hot serving plate. (We swore the flavor kept improving with every bite.) Ruth’s Chris has a classic Mainland steakhouse ambiance; wait staff dressed in white shirts and red vests give polished service with just the right amount of aloha. Opt for a red semicircle booth for that extra touch of romance. A must-have side dish is mashed potatoes with a hint of roasted garlic. A fellow tester rolled her eyes and murmured, “Oh, those potatoes,” after each heavenly mouthful.

maui filet mignonDUO STEAK & SEAFOOD

FOUR SEASONS RESORT MAUI 
3900 Wailea Alanui, Wailea
(808) 874-8000
Hours: Dinner 5:30 – 9 p.m.

Taste: 10 | Innovation: 8 | Value: 7.5
Overall Score: 25.5 | Price: $$$$

Each evening, the Four Seasons Resort Maui takes on a magical quality as the setting sun transmutes its fountains into arcs of liquid gold. While the pu (conch) sounds, and an amaranthine glow deepens in the sky over Wailea (yes, I am channeling Diva), a soft breeze settles over Duo Steak & Seafood. In the restaurant’s open kitchen, Chef Robert Andrade and his staff prepare their six-ounce all-natural Brandt Beef filet mignon over a 750-degree flame to achieve optimum char. Chef Robert rests the filet for six to seven minutes, explaining that this “allows the juices to settle into the meat, ensuring it remains succulent all the way through.” We few, we happy testers declared Duo’s filet so tender, we could almost cut it with a fork. Over-the-top side dishes ($6 each) include oh-so-luscious creamed spinach with a poached egg on top, and buttermilk mashed potatoes. Add a pat of butter and take the potatoes to a whole new level of decadence.

maui filet mignonSON’Z AT SWAN COURT

HYATT REGENCY MAUI RESORT & SPA
200 Nohea Kai Drive, Ka‘anapali
(808) 667-4506
Hours: Dinner 5:30-10 p.m.

Taste: 8 | Innovation: 8 | Value: 9
Overall Score: 25 | Price: $$$$

We felt positively regal descending the dramatic curved staircase leading to Son’z at Swan Court. This lagoon-side gem scores high on the romance scale with black and white swans gliding by enormous open wood casements; a waterfall mutes conversations at neighboring tables. And then there’s the filet: an eight-ounce certified Kansas City Angus tenderloin bathed in a Maui-coffee marinade that creates a burnished crust during grilling. Chef Roy Martinez keeps red-hot lava rocks under his grill to ensure steaks are cooked evenly. “Mauishire” steak sauce nicely complements the marinade. A loaded baked potato accompanies — it’s baked low and slow (200 degrees for four hours), and stuffed with truffle butter, mascarpone, bacon bits, chives, and Parmesan. Every bite is a little explosion of flavors. Grilled asparagus, served perfectly al dente, rounds out this feast fit for kings and queens.


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