Gerard’s produces wonderful food. The restaurant is immaculately clean, down to the corners of the windows. They have just the right linens and polish the silver carefully. They serve the right food at the right time with the right wine, and the service is relaxed and attentive.
The food is high French, but Chef-owner Gerard Reversade uses Hawaiian ingredients deliberately and with great style, incorporating them seamlessly into dishes as if they always were part of the cuisine. There are also several bistro items on the menu. If you want a hearty and warming stew, try the meaty, savory, smooth Boeuf Bourguignon. If you want lots of flavors and textures, try the classic white bean cassoulet, stocked with tender, perfectly cooked chunks of meat and sausage. Coq au Vin rounds out the bistro menu with its slow-braised chicken — fantastique!
Few dishes warm you from the inside out as much as an authentic French onion soup — and this one is the best we’ve had in a restaurant. Caramelized onions abound in rich, house-made beef broth and blanketed by melted Gruyere and Parmesan — the browned edges of which are a sinful delight to crack off the rim of the bowl. This dish takes thirty minutes to bake, so you might want to phone in your order so the kitchen can have it ready for you when you arrive. Another good dish is the savory Souvaroff: delicate puff pastry sheets shelter quail and tender Hamakua mushrooms.
The eight-course Degustation Menu is a real treat. A degustation is a meal that is composed of a variety of flavors and textures, eaten with the intent of concentrating on the sensual and gustatory pleasures of the food. While the courses can change, the most recent menu does include many of our favorite dishes, so we’ll look at it in detail.
The first course is the foie gras medallions, perfectly seared and placed upon a round of French toast, then drizzled with poha berry compote (sweet like honey with a little sour pucker). Next course is very rich wide, flat noodles with truffle butter sauce, accompanied by a duo of plump, sweet prawns sautéed lightly in hazelnut oil. Luscious.
Third course is a tiny bowl of a chilled cucumber soup. Swirled into the smooth, creamy, pale green soup is a white thread of Surfing Goat Dairy cheese. A little ball of tomato sorbet rests in the very middle, and when you stir this all together, you get a cool, sweet, tangy taste of summer with just a titch of spice from the sorbet.
For the next course, a simple spinach salad with two seared scallops arrives. Fifth course features a beautiful piece of snapper draped in a bright emulsion of orange and ginger. The fish is tender and slightly crisp from its bath in the oil in which it roasted; it rests on a perfectly seasoned and subtly flavored bed of braised fennel.
We should mention, here at Intermezzo, that each course is accompanied by a change of cutlery carried in silver trays, and the servers make sure that you know they’re available with both explanations and anything else you may desire. The service is so quiet, professional, and genuine that it’s a relief. We’ve never heard impossible questions like “How are the flavors?” or “Is everything tasting all right?” Instead we hear the classic “Is there anything else I can bring you?” which is more than enough inquiry.
The sorbet intermezzo is made in house, and served in a chilled martini glass with an ounce of champagne. It’s like a fizzy, elegant fruit punch.
Our favorite course is the rack of lamb. Two lamb chops (the rack has been dismantled for you) are presented with the house potatoes au gratin, and a flan made from a green vegetable (watercress, spinach). The chops are generously sized, perfectly medium rare, crusted with a beautiful salt that keeps the New Zealand lamb succulent. The flan is subtle, but the fluffy potato gratin, with the wonderfully melty cheese, is decadent and comforting.
The final course is a dessert from their exceptional list. One of our favorites (you’ll need several visits to try them all) is the classic crème brulee, which Gerard serves chilled and crusted with at least an eighth of an inch of raw Hawaiian sugar torched into a thick, hard caramel. Unlike many Maui versions of this dessert, we must actually stab at the dessert to break this crust and get to the custard, and the result is a mouthful of cool vanilla and slightly warm caramel. My, my, my.
Another favorite dessert is the Mille-feuille, or Napoleon. A spectacular puff pastry standing seven inches high, it features layers of “thousand leaved” puff pastry alternating with lemon curd and strawberries. Light, fluffy curd, crackly sounds as you break the pastry — and we complain there are so few good pastry chefs on Maui!!? To his great credit, Gerard is both lead cook and pastry chef.
And the final favorite dessert: the Grand Marnier soufflé. Order it shortly after sitting down, as it takes time to prepare. Dizzyingly light and fluffy, sweet, aromatic and eggy in exactly the right proportion, this magical soufflé- that-never-falls suggests that perfection is attainable after all.
After all that praise, we’ll warn you against the Dusty Road, a simple combination of coffee and chocolate ice creams dusted in cocoa and macadamia nuts. It’s nice … but when compared to the other sweet gems, it’s a wasted opportunity.
The restaurant is located in the Plantation Inn, a gracious building well back from Front Street. There are no views to speak of, and there are three dining areas in the restaurant: inside in a very air conditioned and slightly stuffy parlor, outside on the lanai, or in a small, fairy-lit garden area. We like the porch best, where, even though the tables are very tight, we can see the dishes come out. Music plays to give quiet conversation some cover, but perhaps because of the close quarters, conversations erupt between tables, and we always meet nice people at Gerard’s.
The wine list is lovely, the service is French, and if you want a special, quiet meal focused solely on the subtle pleasures of the palate, Gerard’s is the place to be.
Address: 174 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina, West Maui
Location: at The Plantation Inn
Hours: Nightly 6pm-8:30pm