Double Down


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One Learns To Expect A Few Things When Walking Into A Four Seasons Establishment-the Understated Elegance, The staff ’s keen eye for details and devotion to making guests feel perfectly pampered, without being smothered. Stellar customer service is the norm, not the exception.

Still, I was taken aback when I arrived at DUO Steak and Seafood restaurant, and someone I had yet to officially meet greeted me by name. Has the team at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea anticipated guest needs so much they’ve consequently developed mind-reading capabilities? I’m jesting, of course, but you had me at aloha.

As the sun sets, a poolside stroll to catch the sliver of tangerine radiating above Wailea Beach reveals all the vestiges of tropical vacation luxury, replete with a wedding photography in session. Tulle is fluttering in the wind as the bride’s flowing train gets adjusted and draped for the magic hour. Suddenly, the need for a refreshing cocktail beckons.

Back in the bustling restaurant, diners can see chef de cuisine Michael Wilson skillfully expediting most days in the semi-open kitchen. Formerly of Cafe O Lei, Wilson was lured to Maui by the promise of surf. He welcomes us bearing an ice-filled plastic toolbox with gifts of crab claws, Kusshi oysters with cucumber granite, and poke topped with ikura. The raw goodness came with contrasting red wine vinegar and pineapple li hing mui mignonettes.

About that cocktail, a little swiping on the iPad, and I decide on Beefeater gin, blood orange fizz and yuzu garnished with a sprig of dill. The well-curated offering includes the classic and rarely found Sazerac, a stiff Manhattan and a host of garden-to-glass libations. As for wine pairings, our server, Shane, took the pains of downsizing the already savvy list to a few dazzling choices.

To start, the frisee and watercress salad is but a canvas to the perfect, six-minute egg, peppered with bacon lardon, spiced toasted hazelnuts and dressed with a lemon and black truffle vinaigrette. The generously sized, buttery hamachi tartare on sweet shoyu is laced with slices of Fuji apple and fennel salad. A plump square of honey-glazed pork belly is expertly married to vanilla parsnip puree, quince butter and topped with crunchy strips of parsnip. A crisp, delicately sweet glass of Sancerre, coaxed with notes of vanilla and apple, made for a brilliant pairing.

Gracefully preceding our mains, an intermezzo of Tahitian vanilla granite and pineapple sorbet cleanses the palate. Then my husband, Jojo, and I split a tender, 8-ounce American Wagyu with sherry mustard demi and roasted vegetables; plus, a crispy ‘opakapaka on a bed of garlicky, nine-grain rice topped with Asian slaw, and then looped with pineapple kochujang for a poignant kick. To reconcile this hearty surf and turf, two glasses of pinot noir were in order. Santa Barbara, California’s earthy Costa de Oro was excellent with the snapper, and the Sonoma’s Patz & Hall had jamminess and spice to boldly stand up to the Wagyu’s rich demi-glace.

And for new parents, yes, it is possible to have a relaxed, leisurely dinner with children. DUO hosts a monthly Market Night that transforms the foyer into a manicured farmers’ market with a fresh produce and salad bar, sliced charcuterie corner and a keiki buffet. Vibrant red ‘ahi, pink shutome and ‘opakapaka are encased in glass, along with beautiful cuts of meats that guests can peruse and personally pick for their dish. When all is said, 70 local farmers and fishermen have a hand in providing the island’s best bounty for the diners.

The vibe is fun and casual. There’s live music and a kids area with a staff member, equipped with arts, crafts and games—a welcome reprieve for parents of more active little humans. During our visit, my 10- and 7-year-old had a bit of fun learning to play Uno, while waiting for their food to arrive, giving me and my husband more time to focus on the important decisions that lay ahead, as in which pinot will best pair with both dry-aged ribeye and seared shutome.

During Market Night, we got a chance to meet executive chef Craig Dryhurst. Originally from London, this seasoned toque has earned his chops in kitchens across England, France and the East Coast. A brand veteran, he joined the Maui team in 2014 by way of Vancouver. “The [Four Seasons] hotel [on] Maui is one of the juggernauts of the company,” Dryhurst says. “It’s like [Four Seasons] Paris in Europe; this is the equivalent in America. I didn’t want to pass it up. Chef-wise, it’s been a dream come true. I have had a lot of fun.”

Shortly after taking the role of executive chef, Dryhurst launched a culinary wellness program for the hotel, inspired by the growing number of guests with strict fidelity to healthy eating. Even those who lean towards debaucherous gluttony now have a chance at nutritious enlightenment. “We always had guests with special dietary requirements, and we created that for them,” Dryhurst says. “Instead of customizing each plate, we standardized something for them. Trends come and go, but I think this one is here to stay. I’m interested in cooking great products and making them exciting to eat.”

This chef also wields his healthful influence into the next generation by working with Grow Some Good, a local non-profit that assists with building school and community gardens as a vehicle to teach children about nutrition, life cycles and food sources. Plans for the hotel’s own vegetable and herb garden are also in the works.

The Market Night menu is even more approachable. Simplicity and locality are key. The shutome on shishito peppers and Kula corn may not be Earth-shattering by any means, but it’s done properly on all counts. The dry-aged rib-eye, hefty at 24-ounces, is finished with herbed garlic butter, and comes with truffle mac and cheese, roasted cauliflower and shallot jus. The umami-laden Keahole lobster mac and cheese is intrinsically satisfying, topped with brioche crumbles and crisp prosciutto. The playful DIY ice cream sundae comes as two scoops in a mason jar, which is then delivered on a platter with nine mini jars of toppings— rainbow sprinkles, candied pineapple, chocolate syrup, crushed Oreos and honey macadamias, among others—with potential to incite much Instagram envy.

On a regular night, however, not even the mini ice cream sandwiches or the complimentary, cloud-like spool of cotton candy can outdo the wondrous ONO Organic Farms banana toffee pudding. That you devour it from what looks like a mini flying saucer is a whimsical bonus. Warm pudding rests on a gooey bed of salted caramel, topped with rum raisin ice cream with a crackly square of phyllo in between. Salty, sweet, decadent and boozy—everyone wins.

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