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“The WORST dining experience of my life”

Mala - Ocean Tavern
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Ranked #42 of 278 Restaurants in Lahaina
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $21 - $50
Cuisines: American, Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Breakfast, Lunch, Delivery, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Kapunakea
Description: In 2004 Mark and Judy opened Mala Ocean Tavern, along with their daughters, Ariana and Michelle, a small oceanside tavern serving Mediterranean and Pacific Rim, with some Latino flavored dishes. With their partner Shep Gordon, Mala Wailea was created for the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort, which opened in 2008 and sold in 2016.
Reviewed May 22, 2008

I have never been so mad at a restaurant in all my life. I avoided writing a review for a few weeks hoping I'd calm dowm, but now just thinking about it gets me all riled up again!!

I made a reservation a few weeks in advance for 8 people. Well at the last minute we wound up with 20, so I called to see if they could accomodate. They said yes of course, but they had a party coming in at 8 so if we could not linger it would be great. Ok, fine. Fair enough, I've waited tables before I get it. We ALL arrive on time at 6pm. The waiter didn't come to take our drink order until 6:30. Drinks come, but doesn't ask to take our dinner order until 7. We were all there waiting, hungry, and ready to order entrees by 6:30. Food arrives at 7:30, not too bad, but we had JUST finished eating at 8. The manager comes over and FLIPS OUT and says "we had an agreement, you said you'd be out by 8, you all have to leave RIGHT NOW". Um, we finished eating like 30 seconds ago lady and you HAVE'NT GIVEN US THE CHECK. Perhaps if your waiters had taken our order in a timely manner we would be done.

20 people takes a few minutes to sort out a bill, everyone was throwing in money. The manager comes back, lectures us AGAIN and tells us to just pay on one credit card and sort it out later. Um, we're trying to pay you. The party pulls up in a bus and comes in and the manager has the nerve to tell the party "they won't leave", so the party ring leader comes over and starts screaming at our table to leave. He had booked this party 3 months ago blah blah... um... it's 8:07, you can wait FIVE MINUTES while we pay. What kind of establishment allows customers to come over and tell other customers to leave. CUSTOMERS WHO JUST RACKED UP A $2000 bill in 2 hrs!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!

So in summary, AWFUL AWFUL hellacious, rude, disrespectful, obnoxious, slow, miserable service. There are no stars low enough for the horrible way our party was treated for no reason. Boycott this place on basic principle that they don't know how to treat a customer!

9  Thank carnalicia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,524 - 1,528 of 1,591 reviews

Reviewed May 14, 2008

After a tiring day on the Molokai muleride and tour of Father Damien's leper colony (see my review), we stopped by Mala's at 7 pm. We've eaten here before, so we knew there would be crowds. The small parking area next to Mala's was packed, so I pulled in and let my wife off to get on the waiting list. I told her to find out how long a wait, and was planning on parking on a side street. Surprisingly, my wife came out following Lisa, the General Manager, and I was told we could be seated now, and Lisa directed me to park behind her vehicle in the lot. What aloha spirit, like it says on the back of their Mala shirts!!

We had our hearts set on an outside table right by the ocean, but there were others that were waiting for those, as well. No problem. But we were seated in the bar area right by an open window overlooking the ocean. NICE!

To start off with, I can't say enough about the service here. Even though the place was PACKED, the waiter was constantly coming back, filling up the water glasses, asking how our food was, and asking if we wanted another drink. It felt like we were the only ones in the restaurant!

Orders;

Beet and Surfing Goat cheese salad with fennel vinaigrette. The chevre goat cheese was fried and placed on fresh beet chunks on top of very fresh mixed greens from Kula....oh YES!

I picked a main course from the evening's menu (changes each night, but you can order from their standard menu, as well). I chose the Opakapaka. Had a Japanese style curry sauce with capers nestled on top of pureed potatos. It came accompanied by a sauteed spinach, egglant and pinenut medley. Quite tasty and unusual flavor combinations!

The wife had a mahi mahi sandwich accompanied by a green Kula salad with dijon vinaigrette dressing.

Both fish dishes were cooked perfectly. I am always fearful the chef will overcook the fish. Overcooked fish is nasty. Hard, dried out and aweful consistency. These were great!

Mai-Tai was wondeful, as was the IPA draft.

Nice finish to a perfect day.

3  Thank alienpilot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2008

We went to Mala Tavern during our recent stay in Maui. We had reserved in advance but were informed that a table by the sea could not be guaranteed despite having a reservation. We were seated as close to the water as possible which was nice since there was a cool breeze.

The restaurant was very busy which made dining a stressful affair, since there was too much going on around you all the time. It was impossible to have a conversation. There were people waiting at the bar for a table and lines by the door. The meal was over in about an hour since the check is presented to you while you are still eating the dessert, so adds to the rushed feeling and pressure to finish since someone else wants your table.

The menu was interesting and the food was quite nice, but after a while you realise that alot of Maui restaurants seem to like serving mash potatoes and grilled fish so there was nothing very original in the menu. The signature dessert dish which was about $20 was various grilled fruits/baby coconuts/dried figs around a plate drizzled with a chocolate/caramel sauce and ice cream in the middle. It was nice enough but there is not much skill or imagination needed to create this dessert .

2  Thank fru_sorteravn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 19, 2008

We really liked 2 out of 3 highly rated restaraunts, based on Tripadvisor reviews but this one was a real stinker for us. We prefer great food at a great price. We felt this one was an example of out of control prices for food. Macaroni and cheese, althought it was good, was $16. The Kobe beef hamburgers were very large and tasty, but $18 fior a burger seems was too high, but typical of some Maui eatieries. Like many eateries on Maui the menu selection seemed pretty limited and a bit strange. My wife ciuldn;t find anything she liked out of the bizarre selections. Not our idea of good food and good prices.

3  Thank Richard M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2008

We expected great things from Mala, and were very disappointed. We went for a late lunch during the week (about 3 PM) so it was quiet. Service was very nice, and the view is lovely. But the food wasn't good. The chicken wing appetisers were very dry and tasteless. The burger was okay, but the mac-and-cheese was awful. Prices are very high there, so we expected it to be excellent food. It was not. We spent $100 for the items listed above and three soft drinks off the lunch menu.

We found out as we were leaving that it was happy hour and we should have been offered a discounted menu for some items, but our waitress never mentioned it. If she had, perhaps our experience would have been better, or at least cheaper.

There are plenty of better places with similar views on the island. I recommend the Pineapple Grill, The Plantation House, or Leilanis.

4  Thank SDCAMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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