Spago not spectacular

We are Wolfgang Puck fans. From his beginnings as a brilliant young chef to his existence today as a home shopping network pan pusher and corporate culinary monolith, you sorta have to admire someone who makes Emeril look like small potatoes. We love the Wolfgang Puck Express in Franklin, Tennessee. We try to eat there every time we pass through Nashville. It is a great combinaton of fast, convenient, good, and reasonably priced.

Spago is the stuff of legends. Many years ago, up well past my bedtime, I remember Johnny Carson talking about Spago. All the stars went there. Even with all those pots sold on cable TV, surely the Spago name still carries some magic. After all, it’s the magic that sells the pots. Sadly, this is not the case.

While in Maui at the Grand Wailea Resort, we decided to go next door to the Four Seasons Resort for dinner at Spago. Along with Mama Squirrel’s coworker, Nik-L-Nip, Mama, Squirrelly, Jr., and I had a nice walk along the beach on the way over. The Four Seasons is beautiful but austere. The white marble would be spectacular in Manhattan, but it is too cold for Maui. Spago is pleasant though, a warm comfortable space where huge photos of ephemeral anemones grace the walls and ceilings.

The appetizers were quite good and got us all excited for a great meal. Nik-L-Nip had tomato soup with a basil froth. The Squad split tuna tartare and a tomato salad. The tartare was beautifully plated and fresh as only coastal fish can be. The tomato salad featured stacks of tomato and mozerella. It was simple, lovely, and tasted divine.

The entrees were good but not thrilling. Nik-L-Nip had a NY strip. He asked for it medium but wished he had asked for medium rare. It was good but came out on the far side of medium. Mama had opah (moonfish), and I had ono (wahoo) with clams. Both were good but on the bland side. Mama’s came with pineapple fried rice. While we love the sweetness of the fresh pineapple in Maui, the rice needed the tartness we’re used to getting state-side. Teh Boy had the best entree, goat cheese stuffed roast chicken. He devoured it.

Dessert was good but not memorable, literally. Mama and I have no idea what we had. Teh Boy had crème brûlée that was good, but no better than the de rigeur crème brûlée we see at almost every restaurant these days. Crème brûlée — jello pudding for the gourmand set.

The biggest failing of the evening was the flower blossom tea that Mama had with dessert. The tea was delicious, but it was served in a metal pot. It should have been served in a glass pot to display the flower blossom of tea leaves to full effect. After all, the tea was made to be beautiful as well as tasty.

The thrill of Spago faded very quickly for us. We had no real complaints about the food, but given the storied reputation of the name, we had hoped for more. We just weren’t excited by the place. And looking at their website, it looks like the staff isn’t all that excited either. Their online menu hasn’t been updated since January 2004. Oh well.

The high point of the evening was on the trail back to our resort. Mama found a huge cane toad alongside the trail. She picked it up and held it for quite a while. It finally expressed its annoyance all over the place. Fortunately Mama had the little fellow aimed away from her. She seemed to have him aimed at Nik-L-Nip actually. I wonder…

The Four Seasons Resort Maui
3900 Wailea Alanui Drive
Wailea Alanui, Hawaii 96753
(808) 879-2999

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