Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

meter-ha-Everybody likes pie, and everybody likes Hawaii. So what’s a person to do when they want both at the same time? They go to Leoda’s of course. Simple.

"You got your pie shop on my island!" "You got your island under my pie shop!"

“You got your pie shop on my island!” “You got your island under my pie shop!”

” It was as though angels had trained a thousand tiny unicorns to poop apples instead of candy corn “

During one of our many drives around Maui, my wife and I decided that we could use an afternoon snack. We’d have been fine making a meal of it, but we had dinner plans for later so an hors d’ oeuvre would have to do. A friend had recommended to us that we check out this pie place in Lahaina, and since we were in the area we headed into town and started looking around …and we found absolutely nothing. Huh? Oh, alright fine, what does Google Maps say? Seven miles away. In Hawaii that’s 90 minutes of driving. As it turns out, you see, Lahaina is an entire district and not just a town. Heavy sigh.

State of Hawaii: 1
Clueless tourists: 0

Feeling better educated and also somewhat silly, we got back in the car and drove down the road while quietly starving to death. Eventually the Terse Navigation Lady that lives inside Hertz GPS units alerted us to make a left turn RIGHT NOW into oncoming traffic, which we did, and hey! There was a big sign with “Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop” written on it right in front of us. Totally worth the risk to life and property.

Just look at all those pies! piespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespies

Just look at all those pies! piespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespies

A funny thing occurs when you’re hungry enough to eat your own cargo shorts and are suddenly faced with several hundred delicious pies. Your jaw begins to flap around on its own while your brain attempts to work out the quickest way to absorb as many calories as possible, making comprehensible speech quite a challenge. Luckily my wife was there to translate my slurred caveman mumbles into “One apple hand pie and one banana cream mini pie please.” We walked to a nearby table (I shuffled), sat down, and got to work on our noms.

A flaky, sugary pouch of pure apple goodness.

A flaky, sugary pouch of pure apple goodness.

It’s possible that our harrowing navigation experience made me appreciate life more or maybe I was just that hungry, but the apple hand pie was damn near the finest dessert food I have ever experienced. I don’t know why they call it a “hand pie” though. Despite the fact that it appeared to be travel friendly and pick-uppable, even so much as a sideways glance was enough to make it disintegrate into a flaky pile of pureed pie bits. This weakness was also the crust’s strength, however, because it was amazingly delicate and light while at the same time being flavorful, buttery, crispy… It was perfection, really. The apple filling, believe it or not, was slightly better than that. It was as though angels had trained a thousand tiny unicorns to poop apples instead of candy corn, and then made a pie out it. It was unreal.

What a cute little pie. I could just eat it all up! (Actually, I did.)

What a cute little pie. I could just eat it all up! (Actually, I did.)

We were so impressed with the pies (the banana cream was crazy good too) that we came back a couple days later for lunch. Of course we got another apple hand pie and also a rather tasty burger. I decided to make a late breakfast out of the meal and ordered a savory biscuit (herbs and cheese) as well as a bacon and egg hand pie. This turned out to be about five times more food than we needed, but we were very keen to try as much of the menu as possible. I’m happy to report that everything we ate at Leoda’s was amazing, but nothing quite matched the magic of that first apple pie.

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop qualifies as a must-visit whenever you find yourself on Maui and earns 999 out of 1,000 tiny, angel-trained unicorns. Bring your appetite, a pair of elastic pants, and a shop vac for cleaning up pie crust crumbs.

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
820 Olowalu Village Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 662-3600
www.leodas.com
Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop on Urbanspoon

The bacon and egg handheld isn't exactly a typical Hawaiian breakfast, but it sure is tasty.

The bacon and egg handheld isn’t exactly a typical Hawaiian breakfast, but it sure is tasty.


The Melt

meter-great+The people who work at The Melt have been spying on me. They must have been. It’s one thing for a restaurant to have exactly what I want to eat and just the right sides and drinks, but to have only those things? Yeah, coincidence my butt.

The other day I found myself wandering around Stanford Shopping Center, a well-to-do outdoorsy mall type place right in the middle of Palo Alto. It’s a nice place to shop and all, but it’s not really my cup of tea. If I was in the market for a size minus three cocktail dress or a Swarovski encrusted penguin, I’d probably think this mall was the bees knees. What I really wanted was lunch, though, and the standard mall fare I’d found so far just wasn’t cutting it. After what seemed like tens of minutes of searching, I finally located a directory with actual directions on it. (Mini rant: Why has every mall in America replaced their maps with advertisements? Ads do no good at all if I can’t find the stupid stores they go to.) As I scanned the the directory I spied The Melt. That sounded to me like either a heated yoga studio or a Modern English souvenir store, both very likely choices in a place like Palo Alto. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check it out.

With a name like The Melt, there'd better be cheese involved. Lots of it.

With a name like The Melt, there’d better be cheese involved. Lots of it.

I made my way to the other end of the mall, dodging Armani baby strollers by the dozen and doing a pretty good OJ-Simpson-in-an-airport impersonation in the process. As I made my way through yet another swarm of people in overpriced Pilates outfits, I caught a glimpse of The Melt. The restaurant sports a clean, utopian orange-and-white color scheme and a menu straight out of my dreams.

First thing on the menu: Grilled cheese. OMG

Second thing on the menu: Grilled cheese. …and then I fainted.

The interior decorating style is half In-N-Out Burger, half IKEA.

The interior decorating style is half In-N-Out Burger, half IKEA.

” That sounded to me like either a heated yoga studio or a Modern English souvenir store “

The entire menu, in fact, revolves around this single, exquisitely perfect food. There are different choices for bread, cheese, and various add-ins (like bacon!), and there are also soups and salads to be had. The beverage menu is equally brief, with the primary choices being iced tea, lemonade, and water. It’s perfect.

It took me exactly 12.7 seconds to notice the Mac Daddy, a grilled cheese WITH MACARONI AND CHEESE IN IT. Holy heck I love this place. One of those please with, oh yes, a side Caesar salad and an iced tea. Talk about a slam dunk. To top things off the cashier asked, “Would you like chips or a pickle?” PICKLE! Hot dang this place is on fire.

Macaroni and cheese IN a grilled cheese sandwich. *eye twitch*

Macaroni and cheese IN a grilled cheese sandwich. *eye twitch*

I filled up the environmentally friendly plastic-like cup with tea and settled down to enjoy my golden, crispy, macaroni-y lunch. The thing that surprised me was not the high quality of the food, but how well portioned everything was. My grilled cheese wasn’t a super duper über mega glutton-size sandwich – it was just a sandwich. The iced tea was a respectable (and refillable) 20 ounces, and the salad was …well, salad-sized. Outstanding. It was just enough to eat without making me split my pants, and yet it was still delicious and awesome. Somewhere along the way our society has managed to forget that more doesn’t always equal better; it’s nice to see that someone remembered. Add to that some snazzy online ordering tools and lightning quick service, and we’ve got ourselves a real winner here.

If I had to nitpick something, it would be what my lunch was served in. Instead of plates or plastic containers, The Melt opts for reusable wire mesh baskets lined with a single sheet of what looks like wax paper. I well and truly appreciate the environmentally friendly approach – really, I do – but eating salad off of a piece of paper just doesn’t work. By the end of my meal the paper had soaked through with dressing, leaving large soggy holes for the lettuce to fall through to the maybe-clean counter top directly below. Gross.

In spite of the eating receptacle issues, I rate The Melt a phenomenal 9.3 out of 10 metric tons of cheddar. If you’re a grilled cheese fanatic like I am, you owe it to yourself to grab a bite here.

The Melt
Multiple locations around the Bay Area (and many other places)
www.themelt.com
The Melt on Urbanspoon

I may never eat anywhere else again.

I may never eat anywhere else again.


Ulupalakua Ranch

meter-good-greatBelieve it or not, there are elk on Maui. I know that’s an odd way to begin a food blog entry, but there’s a very good reason for that: You can eat them. Granted, you have to drive halfway up a mountain to do it, but it’s worth the trip. Unless you’re one of the elk.

Ulupalakua Ranch (say that three times real fast) is not exactly the type of place you just swing by for a bite, unless perhaps you have a helicopter. [Note to self: Buy helicopter, move to Maui.] Getting to this place takes time, research, a potentially voided rental car contract, and the better part of a tank of gas. Ulupalakua Ranch is nestled on the side of Haleakala, Maui’s eastern most mountain peak. Fun fact: That last sentence represents 100% of my knowledge of Hawaiian geography.

Open 11am to 3pm. My kind of working hours.

Open 11am to 3pm. My kind of working hours.

After a somewhat tiring but breathtakingly scenic drive, my blushing bride and I found ourselves standing outside the ranch store. The only thing we’d had to eat for the past several hours was a half a package of dried pineapple and some samples of lavender tea, so we were good and ready for some real food, dammit. We walked to the back corner of the store and found a modestly-sized menu board with a number of tasty options. As you’d expect from an eatery located on a ranch, most of the menu choices had hooves at one point – no complaints here. For the more empathetic types out there, Ulupalakua Ranch also offers salads and garden burgers.

Hey, cows eat grass right? So eating cows is like eating green stuff by delegating. Works for me.

Hey, cows eat grass right? So eating cows is like eating green stuff by delegating. Works for me.

” Most of the menu choices had hooves at one point “

I considered the elk burger for a while (apparently it’s excellent), but I was feeling more hungry than adventurous so I ordered the beef burger with Swiss and bacon. Baaacconnnnn. My wife was braver than I was and decided on a lamb burger with cheddar and barbecue sauce. Hmm, not too sure about that, but I guess we’ll see. Lamb is one of those things that’s either just amazing or absolutely horrifyingly awful, depending on the quality and freshness of the cut. The closer it is to prancing and bleating, the better.

While we waited for our food we browsed the rest of the store. It contained a charming and eclectic mix of Hawaiian knick-knacks and cowboy gear, as well as a decent collection of locally produced food items. We grabbed a couple bags of Maui onion potato chips (that were made in Texas *cough*) and headed out to the patio.

Just look at that beefy, bacony masterpiece.

Just look at that beefy, bacony masterpiece.

Our burgers came straight off of the grill a few minutes later, perched atop impossibly fresh toasted buns and accompanied by a standard collection of toppings. The beef burger, although straightforward and otherwise unremarkable, was one of the juiciest and most flavorful I have experienced in a very long time. I guess it helps when your beef comes from the other side of your own property instead of the globe.

As for the lamb burger… Ok, honestly I was a bit apprehensive to give it a try but hey! It wasn’t bad at all. In fact it was downright superb, and I was quite pleasantly surprised. My wife began thwacking me on the head with a plastic utensil as I stole another large bite of her sandwich, saying something about “Hey, go get your own!” I was too engrossed in the excellent flavor to really notice, so I just pretended not to hear. (It works when I’m being beckoned outside for yard work, so why not right?)

Ulupalakua Ranch earns an honest and enjoyable 11.3 out of 15 gallons of rental car gas. It’s a bit too far off the beaten path to really make it worth the effort, but if you’re already on that side of Maui definitely pay this place a visit. If you’re crazy enough to attempt the drive to Hana, this also makes a very nice stop along the way.

Ulupalakua Ranch
HC 1
Box 901
Kula, HI 96790
www.ulupalakuaranch.com
Ulupalakua Ranch Store on Urbanspoon

Lamb and cheddar with barbecue sauce. It shouldn't work, but it does.

Lamb and cheddar with barbecue sauce. It shouldn’t work, but it does.



Merriman’s

meter-good+One of the many restaurants on our list of places to visit this trip was Merriman’s Kapalua, a fancy-ish establishment with – you guessed it – a killer view. We’d heard this place can get busy, so we called ahead and attempted to get reservations. Unfortunately, sunset dining times turned out to be very difficult to come by.

The best available dinner reservation time was just after sunset several days later, so my wife and I decided to go there for appetizers instead. Or, as we prefer to say: Pupus (Pronounced “poo poos”). It’s way more fun. Try it. Pupus. (giggle) We dropped our car off at the valet in front of Merriman’s – the only parking option – and walked out to the open seating available on the generously sized patio.

A sunset at Merriman's, as seen through a glass of Fire Rock pale ale. Beyootiful.

A sunset at Merriman’s, as seen through a glass of Fire Rock pale ale. Beyootiful.

” Now I remember why I’ve never liked people with more ab muscles than IQ points “

The patio is located where the old Bay Club swimming pool used to be. Well, actually, it’s still there. The pool has been completely filled with dirt and is mostly covered with a large wooden deck. The uncovered part of the pool sports a lawn and several palm trees. Very strange indeed, but also not really noticeable.

Because this blog is not called “Uninteresting Pool Trivia“, I will now return to talking about food. My better half and I browsed the pupu menu (stifled laugh) and picked out a handful of different items that approximately equated to dinner for two. The service at Merriman’s is a little bit on the slow side, but then again so is Hawaii in general. Besides, we were there to watch the sunset, so it’s not like we were planning on leaving anytime soon anyway.

Pretty darned good sliders. THERE's the beef.

Pretty darned good sliders. THERE’s the beef.

Eventually a tanned and gleeful young lad bounded out of the kitchen area to deliver our four plates of appetizers. “Well gosh!” he said. “With an order this size I’d have thought there were six people here!” Yes, thank you. We get it, we’re little oinkers. Please keep your astute observations to yourself and go iron your collection of khaki shorts. Now I remember why I’ve never liked people with more ab muscles than IQ points.

Thankfully, our pupus (tee hee) turned out to be quite tasty. The smoked bacon and bleu cheese sliders were quite beefy and delicious, and the pork quesadilla was superb – the chili mango “wattah” dipping sauce was to die for. The fish and “chips” (actually breaded and fried eggplant) was also very good; both the breading and the tartar sauce had very nicely amped up flavors. To be somewhat healthy, we also got a goat cheese salad. So there, filter-less meal delivery drone. Nyah.

Warm goat cheese with a crispy crust on froofy salad thing. It was awesome.

Warm goat cheese with a crispy crust on froofy salad thing. It was awesome.

We finished off our “dinner” with some wonderful white chocolate filled malasadas (basically donut holes), complete with local coffee caramel dipping sauce. The molten white chocolate was perilously hot, but we managed to escape with only mildly disfiguring burns. We watched the sun set as we enjoyed our pupus (yes, it’s still funny) – overall it was a very pleasant evening indeed. It took quite a bit longer to get our bill than I would have preferred, but it wasn’t a huge deal … until I saw the total. We cleared $100 easy, even with only one drink each. It must have taken them the whole 30 extra minutes we waited just to total everything up. Well, what’s one to expect? With front row seats for the sunset like we had and more than passable noms, it was still a fair deal.

In the end, I rate this restaurant a decent 9 out of 12 blond-coiffed busboys. The value-for-food formula is questionable, but it does make for a nice night out. If you’re in the mood for a delicious pupu (snort) and your wallet can stand up to a modest beating, stop by Merriman’s Kapalua for a bite.

Merriman’s
Multiple locations throughout Hawaii
www.merrimanshawaii.com

Merriman's on Urbanspoon

The Kahlua pork quesadilla was slam-dunk piggy deliciousness.

The Kahlua pork quesadilla was slam-dunk piggy deliciousness.



The Gazebo

meter-great-haI’ve been to The Gazebo before, so I was excited to have an opportunity to write it up. Well, actually, I was way more excited to eat there – this whole blog thing is more like a side effect.

This restaurant is tucked away back behind the business end of a motel-y looking resort in Napili. To find it, you’ll need to poke around the back roads in the area a bit, keeping your eyes peeled for a teeny little wooden sign sporting the magical words “The Gazebo”. Find a parking spot as quickly as you can or, if there aren’t any (which is likely), just plow your rental car into the middle of a hibiscus bush and climb out of a back window. Start walking through the motel … sorry, “resort” grounds and head vaguely towards the ocean. When you see a line of people waiting near a swimming pool, you have discovered breakfast nirvana.

It is literally a gazebo. No bonus points for having a creative restaurant name.

It is literally a gazebo. No bonus points for having a creative restaurant name.

The wait for a table is rarely less than 15 minutes, and it’s often quite a bit more – that’s the bad news. The good news is that it will be the most pleasant wait you’ve ever experienced. You’re in Hawaii for crying out loud, who cares how long the wait is? Just remember not to wander aimlessly out of line while you gape at the postcard-perfect scenery and bask in the toasty sun.

” Before we could say ‘sugar shock’ our food had arrived “

Once seated, you will find yourself reviewing a lengthy and reasonably-priced menu filled to the brim with just about everything you can imagine and quite a few things you can’t. If this is your first visit to The Gazebo, skip straight to the “Our Specialties” section and try not to giggle with sheer schoolgirlish delight. The white chocolate macadamia nut pancakes are as drool-worthy as they sound. I also highly recommend the banana macadamia nut version, and pineapple is available as well. In a final stroke of tropical genius, you’re provided with coconut syrup to top it all off. Yeah, wow is right.

The only thing that could possibly be any better than that is a little gem I discovered on the specials board: Peanut butter banana french toast. Hot dang do I love peanut butter! I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that before, but no matter. I ordered up the french toast; my wife opted for a banana mac nut short stack and a side of bacon for us to share. Baaaaacccoooooooonnnnnnnnn.

The peanut butter banana french toast special. I am still having dreams about this.

The peanut butter banana french toast special. I am still having dreams about this.

Before we could say “sugar shock” our food had arrived, just as fresh and amazing as I remembered from a few years ago. The waitstaff at The Gazebo are great folks; they’re fast, personable, they get their orders correct, and they keep your iced tea filled. I tried to think of something mean to say about them but I came up with nothing, curse the wily charlatans.

The Gazebo earns an easy 28 out of 30 fluffy golden tropical pancakes; really its only downside is that you have to travel all the way to Maui to visit it. Wait, maybe that’s an upside. Doesn’t matter. Just go there!

The Gazebo
5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 669-5621
www.mauihawaii.org

Gazebo on Urbanspoon

UPDATE
This restaurant is so nice I reviewed it twice: Random Revisit: The Gazebo

Banana macadamia nut pancakes with juuuuuuuust a dab of whipped cream.

Banana macadamia nut pancakes with juuuuuuuust a dab of whipped cream.