The Mill House – Eclectic Cultural Synthesis for Dining on Maui

Understandably, when one thinks about great restaurants on Maui, one thinks about the myriad venues near the ocean. But on our recent trip to Maui, we set out beyond the beaten path and headed toward the mountains to dine at The Mill House. And we are glad we did.

We marveled at the clever décor in the relatively vast space as we were led to our table.

The restaurant is situated at the Maui Tropical Plantation, surrounded by working farmland, adjoining the impressive Waikapū Valley. Leveraging the seemingly ubiquitous farm to table strategy adopted by many other fine restaurants, The Mill House goes further by honoring and drawing on the cultures from distant shores that travelled with those seeking work in Maui’s sugarcane industry.

As a result, The Mill House offers one of the most eclectic and ambitious menus on the island. Fortunately, that ambition is met with an equal amount of quality.

Our memorable meal started with smoked fish profiteroles (with garlic crème fraiche and fish roe) and aliʻi mushroom croquetas (with roasted garlic aioli and pickled onion).

The bartender’s clever handcrafted beverages included a complex Monkey Business (El Dorado rum, Pusser’s Gunpowder rum, coconut-pineapple shrub, Tempus Fugit crème de banane, cocchi Americano and lemon) and a quenching Hi Life (blended from Kōloa white rum, Banks 7 rum, Gosling’s Black Seal rum, mango, hibiscus, vanilla and lime).

By now we had time to ponder the aforementioned décor, which was comprised mostly of implements from the plantation surrounding the restaurant.

Our informative waiter steered us to several of Executive Chef Taylor Ponte’s signature dishes. The Kauai prawn and fish coconut curry was a delightful blend of seasonal vegetables, chili oil, cherry tomato, Thai basil, mint, fried garlic over rice. Upcountry beef was the crux of a flavorful Paniolo ribeye. Prepared with coffee glaze, smoked potato purée, mushrooms and alliums, bites were shared all around.

To finish, we all took a taste of the dark chocolate bomb, suffused with green tea pastry cream, sesame tuile and sweet ginger jam. French press coffee from the Mill House Roasting Company was the perfect last taste.

Be sure to arrive before sunset, so that you can drink in the amazing views through the valley. If you are looking to eschew the seemingly endless, repetitive yet decent offerings along the Maui coast, head upcountry to The Mill House. Each of your senses will be satiated.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.