18th Hole, Kaanapali Golf Course
Maui, HI 96761
Chef Suzzette Metcalfe was scurrying even more than usual last Saturday. A customer had just popped for the live football feed of Sunday’s game as a birthday gift to her husband and Chef wanted to share the news via email with Rusty Harpoon’s faithful football clientele. It was also a good opportunity to share the news of enticing game day specials like discount drinks and pupus.
It was a stunning Kaanapali afternoon with summer breezes wafting through the sizable open-aired dining room overlooking the lush greens of the Kaanapali Golf Course. The sights and scents from our table were as refreshing as the brewskis a gang of golfers enjoyed at Kaanapali’s nineteenth hole, aka Rusty Harpoon.
The restaurant is open early morning to late night and morphs character depending on the time of day. Late nights are jamming with revelers happy to have found something open in this neck of the woods past “Maui midnight;” mornings you’ll run into clean cut golfers or hearty tradesman stopping in for breakfast; early afternoons attract just about everyone; happy hour packs in service industry workers; sports fans rock the house on weekends. Rusty Harpoon’s menu manages to appeal to all modes of its changing personality.
Breakfast, served from 8-11 a.m., boasts a famous Waffle Bar that affords diners the chance to pile on the toppings, whipped cream and nuts to their liking. If that’s too much for your sweet tooth in the morning try a breakfast burrito or Junior’s Famous Fried Rice.
Lunch, served from 11-5, offers a mix of the familiar and unexpected. Club, Tuna, Burger, Rueben Sandwiches being the former, Louisiana Style “Bouya” (ham, shrimp, chicken, clams, and smoked sausage simmered in spicy New Orleans style red sauce Topped with rice pilaf) being an example of the latter. The Seared Ahi Rollup (fresh Hawaiian Ahi, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and spicy mayo in soft tortilla) and Avo Rolls (recipe in this edition!) bridge the common and surprising with novel use of local flavors.
The dinner menu is extensive and, like lunch, covers the bases by offering tempting selections appealing to the broad variety of people who come here to enjoy themselves. There’s a delicate Ahi Parfait (ahi Tartar layered with guacamole and sour cream garnished with mixed greens and wasabi vinaigrette) and in contrast, the rough and tumble Rusty Harpoon’s Ribs and Wings. Refined palates love the awesome Oyster Suzzette (baked with Parmesan cheese, spinach, crispy bacon with a hint of anise) and everyone seems to have fun with Make Your Own Lettuce Wraps. From Parmesan Meatballs and Linguini to Hawaiian Brochettes to Slow Roasted Prime Rib, dining at the Rusty Harpoon is a little like going to your favorite relative’s for dinner – the one who has keyed in what every member of the family loves best.
It’s not surprising; Chef Metcalfe hails from the Midwest and exudes down to earth charm legion from that region, something she learned from her father who was at the helm of the old Rusty Harpoon. He has since passed on but his daughter is firmly committed to carrying on the tradition of relaxed hospitality. Everyone is welcome and there’s something everyone will enjoy at this table.