The Maui News
POSTED: March 26, 2009
By CARLA TRACY, Dining Editor
Many Mauians consider SeaWatch Restaurant in Wailea the perfect “special event” establishment as it features spectacular views of Pu’u Olai cinder cone, Molokini and Kahoolawe islands from its vantage point hundreds of feet above the ocean from its spot inside the Wailea Golf Clubhouse.
Of course, the views from the wrap-around lanais dish up lush foliage, flowing streams, waterfalls and majestic Haleakala looming from behind.
SeaWatch also tempts you with the talents of “Maui’s Best Chef,” Todd Carlos, the reigning king of the island’s kitchens as voted by readers of The Maui News in the Best of Maui contest last June.
Even with just a couple of friends or family members, it’s a casual and relaxing spot to spend over a leisurely breakfast or lunch – both served all day every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“I have lunch here three times a week,” says Realtor John Ferguson. “They have the best eggs Benedict on the island and I often have it at 2 p.m.!”
Choices include crab cake Benedict with roasted red pepper Hollandaise, a garden version with spinach and tomato; and, of course, the classic with Canadian bacon. Eye openers are SeaWatch specialties such as Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
Those who have a penchant for art will want to dine there from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays as Art on the Green transpires in the Atrium Lobby with works by painters, photographers, glass, ceramic and jewelry artists displayed throughout.
“Art on the Green helps to draw people in the door, but we’ve been staying pretty busy,” says the chef who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and has worked as such top New York legends as Tavern on the Green and Russian Tea Room.
As for dinner, Chef Carlos does justice with his Hawaiian Island Coastal Cuisine. Personal favorites include island catch and tiger prawn linguine; crispy crab-stuffed ahi roll, Osso Buco, Surfing Goat Dairy cheese and beet salad; Muscovy duck breast and shank of lamb.
“I’m working on creating some new spring dishes that will debut right around Easter,” says Carlos, who is also a limited partner in SeaWatch. The major longtime owner is Roy Dunn.
“But we’ll continue to have the core menu because our repeat customers always like to order what is already there.”
The Huikau Eke features island catch, a pair of Alaskan sea scallops and tiger prawns wrapped in parchment paper with island vegetables and young potatoes. It’s baked in its juices with white wine, thyme, lemon juice and garlic.
“Your waiter brings it to your table, and he slits the parchment paper open and when the steam escapes you get some wonderful herbal aromas.”
Five different preparations of fresh fish are done nightly. The “citrus” pan sears fresh catch of your choice with a blend of sweet tea leaves, lemongrass and citrus zest; and the macadamia-nut crusted catch is brushed with mango chutney.
Getting back to those parties, last year, SeaWatch did over 600 private functions, mostly weddings and receptions. You’d be surprised at how many “walk-in” brides come through the door.
There are many private spots ranging from the Lower Lawn to the Grille Room to the Upper Pond. Even Molokini Lookout, where Taste of Wailea as part of Maui Film Festival has been held annually, is a big part of the SeaWatch party picture.
“The SeaWatch goes to great lengths to make each one special, and the staff work closely with the wedding planners, brides, or group planners,” says restaurant publicist David Hoffman.
“Niceties include pedal pads to walk on, bamboo arches, Hawaiian ceremonies with conch shells, hula and string quartets. Even famous musicians like Seal can be flown in for large group functions.”
The SeaWatch was transformed into a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme at one recent reception, complete with custom chocolate bars and staff dressed in purple suits and top hats.
“Add the expertise of Chef Todd in group dining, including his extensive use of local fish, meats and vegetables and you have a fantastic ingredient for fun,” says Hoffman. “SeaWatch supports a large group of local people, who are always ready to make these events special each and every time.”
One such person is Skipper Smith, the spry and spunky 80-year-old hostess who teaches tap dancing in her spare time. So come up to SeaWatch and enjoy the views, the food, the people and the parties.
SEAWATCH FAST FACTS
* WHERE: Located on the Gold and Emerald Golf Course in the massive Wailea Golf Clubhouse.
* HOURS: Breakfast and lunch are served 8 to 3 p.m.; grill menu is 3 to 10 p.m. in cocktail area only; and dinner is 5:30 to 10 p.m.
* COOKING STYLE: Hawaii Island Coastal Cuisine.
* FAVORITES: Thai beef martini in a stylish martini glass; island catch in choice of five preparations; shank of lamb; Osso Buco.
* FOR RESERVATIONS: Call SeaWatch at 875-8080.