We had an awesome day in Hana exploring, but we made it back to Lahaina pretty late. So started calling around while Dad drove into town. Called a few other places that were slowing down for the night and apparently had no interested in our $138 tab. Luckily when I phoned Mala, Ara answered the phone. I asked him if 9 would be to late and that we simply didn't want to be the last table in the restaurant or hold them up. No problem he said, we're still crankin.
This sounded like a much better option than any other restaurant that was already tucking in for the night. We stopped at Dads condo, changed in to suitable attire and headed over just before 9. Ara told me our timing was perfect and to make ourselves comfortable.
They're signature chips, edamame and salsa showed up quickly, showcased in a stone mortar. Our server Danny was very eloquent. He knows his guest. We ended up with a bottle of Malbec that was perfectly fine for a 9pm 'taverna' experience. I decided to throw a curve and start with they're side of Olives. Danny said he would heat em up and that we'd really like them. For $5 I like this bang for my buck as a generous little starter. Forget the Whole Foods Olive bar... Dad went for Seafood Chowder and I had their warm Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. Presentation of the Chowder is to fun not to mention: The server assistant shows up with a bowl with a lime creme fraiche drizzle and crunchy applewood smoked bacon. Then they pour the chowder on top out of a small ceramic pitcher. Warm Beet and Goat cheese salad I've had many times at Mala. It's perfectly done with a goat cheese fritter I believe from Surfing Goat Dairy. They stick a flax seed cracker in for decor. Nice salad. I decided to stick to the Taverna menu and after seeing the chowder presentation I went for it as my entree. Dad had the Kobe beef burger with bleu cheese. All was fine. Sure I want to see house cut french fries but for a Kobe Burger for $19.95 with Mala's oceanfront view who cares.
We were still nursing the $32 Malbec and the restaurant had cleared out. Danny asked if we were dessert people (eloquent speech). Ara showed up again at the table and insisted that there was no rush and that we could have dessert if we would like. I told him we had had a great time, as it was my Dad's last night on Maui. He took note. A minute later he sent our free of charge their Lilikoi Gelato.
In recent memory this is one of the best examples of customer service I have seen. The manager stood behind what he was saying: stay and have dessert. It's fine. Don't believe me? Fine, here: on the house. Enjoy another moment with your Dad. He knocked it out of the park. Glad I hit up Mala and all I can hope is that Ellman rewards this sort of behavior by the FOH staff. Nicely done. Of course, Honu is good too. But Mala came first and there is a reason. Its a Bar that can transform into fine dining if you want. Hell, it's a Taverna in Lahaina. Thanks.
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