A soft breeze brushed my face while my slippered-feet touched each step with a gentle bounce as the staircase swirled downward toward the live music ascending from the level below. We descended the next set of steps and approached the dimly lit bar central to Andaz Maui’s Lehua Lounge.
I waved hello to Chase, Jason, and Hollie behind the bar as Hollie, calls out to Anthony, “South Side Fizz?”
“You know it,” Anthony answers.
“I’ll have an Old Fashioned, please.”
“Rye?” she asks.
“I like your style,” Hollie replies with a grin.
Hollie knows us well. We’ve been regulars at Lehua Lounge since it opened several years ago and often sit near or directly in Hollie’s section of the bar. She’s one of the few bartenders to whom I can say, “surprise me” and she excitedly mixes a cocktail she knows I’ll love. Lime, rum, whiskey, or gin, she knows I love bold and/or herbaceous flavors and cocktails that are either silky smooth or bitterly citrus-forward with lime or lemon.
Smack-dab in the center of Wailea’s swanky Andaz Maui, Lehua Lounge is named for Hawaii’s own Lehua flower – a beautiful little blossom that springs forth like a dazzling firework with its delicate red tendrils and creamy-colored tips. The lounge is suitably placed just above sea level with stunning views of the sunset off the Pacific that reflect in the shimmery surfaces of the Andaz pools.
Andaz is all about exquisite beauty, service, and enjoyment. Part of that enjoyment is the Andaz kitchens farm-to-table cuisine and creative cocktails mixed with fresh juices and high-quality liquor. I’ve tried several dishes at both Kaana Kitchen and Lehua Lounge, but this time I was in the mood to step out of my comfort zone and to try something new.
I gutsily ordered the deviled eggs appetizer topped with oysters. As a gal typically shies away from shellfish, this move was a bold one for me. Anthony glances at me quizzically with an eyebrow raised and asks, “oysters? You? Have you had enough liquor yet for that?” One and a half Old Fashioned cocktails in, I’m ready for it. I hope they oysters aren’t too grey and slithery, yet I also have faith in Hollie and the Andaz kitchens, neither of which have ever let me down. I also order my favorite standby — the zesty fried shishito peppers as an special treat for my bravery.
The deviled eggs arrive, and I am relieved to find that the oysters are deep-fried and topped with a spiced aioli — neither slithery nor grey. “It’s best if you eat the whole thing at once,” Hollie offers.
In one swift movement, I take Hollie’s advice and pop an entire deviled egg in my mouth — oyster and all. The soft bottom of the hard-boiled egg cup bounces on my tongue first followed by the crunchy battered oyster and creamy filling. The flavor balance is excellent. Not too fishy, nor too mild, the bold oyster paired nicely with the smooth and light egg yolk and cream cheese filling of the deviled egg. Will I order it again? Yes. Will I eat each oyster on the plate instead of two? Maybe. Baby steps, Angie. Baby steps.
I continue with the shishito peppers. With a tangy glaze, savory jerky, and sprinkled with a mild cheese and slightly spicy pepperocinis, the appetizer is all at once zesty and well-balanced with complimenting flavors. I have to admit that I love these so much, I make them at home as a treat from time to time — sometimes fried, and sometimes roasted, but always with a similar balsamic glaze. Thank you, Lehua Lounge, for acquainting me with these spicy delectables. You have made me a fan for life.
Lehua Lounge’s farm and sea to table cuisine and craft cocktails are offered nightly until 11pm at the Andaz Maui in Wailea. Valet parking is free for those dining at the resort, but I do recommend tipping your valet for the free service.
Check back soon to see Lehua Lounge mixologists, Chase and Hollie, featured on Dining on Maui’s new Industry Talk Story series. Get to know the personalities behind the bar, at the grill, and beside your table with our exciting new series.
3550 Wailea Alanui Drive
808 573 1234