By George Christopher Thomas, Food Critic
MAUI, HAWAII — If there was ever a place that had ambience, it is Fleetwood’s on Front Street in Maui. This is the place you hope your family takes you on your birthday. This is the place you take your bride after you elope in Maui on your wedding night. Fleetwood’s on Front Street is the place you take your mother on her 60th birthday and thank her for raising you.
It is also the place to stop by and grab a superior bite to eat any time you are in Lahina. We enjoyed the best seat in the house, overlooking the ocean and right by the live band. As the restaurant is on Front Street — so called because it directly flanks the Pacific — we could hear the waves crash right across the street. On the way to the restaurant, you can walk down the sidewalk though the quiet town and get a little spray from the wave. Lahina is perfectly located and an absolutely beautiful little village.
The serenity of the town takes a break at Fleetwood’s on Front Street, where something is happening day and night. The band performing live were a duo of seasoned, professional musicians who played at an ideal volume so that you can still hear yourself think, and enjoy your dinner. Mick Fleetwood himself — a regular performer at his restaurant — likely came in and did the sound check for this band, because everything was absolutely perfect.
The blues band was excellent, with a good mix of well-known, mellowed-out covers, including ZZ Top, Beatles and Rolling Stones songs. Right after they were done with their first set, the lead singer said “When you are in the moment, time is irrelevant.” Amen brother.
Besides all the music and ambiance and location, there is the great food. We started off with Kula tomatoes from the Maui mountains, red and yellow ones, dipped in pink Maui sea salt. Those Kula tomatoes brushed with Hawaiian sea salt had more flavor that almost any I have ever tasted.
They also had the most amazing and delicious house made rosemary and thyme Italian-style bread. Believe me, that bread with homey butter along with the Kula tomatoes and pink Hawaiian sea salt was a great way to start off dinner, piquing our appetites for more to come.
We had only been here for fifteen minutes when Fleetwood’s on Front Street officially became my favorite restaurant in Maui. There is something special going on, and it would be no surprise if the band playing were all famous rock stars. They knew what they were doing and hit every note perfectly.
Next up was another round of starters, the freshest, fattest mussels in a coconut milk broth. They were perfectly cooked, tasting like they were born, grown, harvested and cooked just for me. Following that was the main course, and I wanted something substantial and smoky. One of the day’s specials, the beef Wellington, was the choice for me. This was a hearty dish straight out of the old country yet quite at home in Maui. As I sat and ate the best beef Wellington in America, the second best in all of the world, behind my Mum-in-Law’s back in Merry Old England, I thanked the moon and the stars for the infusing of cultures. To be eating British comfort food as I sat by the ocean drinking a Mai Tai in Maui proved once again that Hawaii is a very special place. For this moment in time, life was good, and the homemade horseradish was pretty awesome as well, with just the right amount of kick.
The food, the location, the world-class music and cool ambiance are individually reasons to dine here; combined they make it a destination not to be missed. The rumor that Mick Fleetwood comes out and plays from time to time should give you at least one more reason to stop by and have a cheeseburger.
My dad says the greatest thing Bill Clinton ever did was to reunite Fleetwood Mac. Imagine having a nice meal by the ocean in Maui and seeing Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham walk by … it’s showtime and it might happen. (In my fantasy they play the entire Rumors album all the way through.) Could someone in the band get me a side of Thousand Island for my fries? A gravy boat full would suffice. Cheers mates.