Gaylord’s Reopens At Kilohana

For 23 years, Gaylord’s was a cherished institution on Kaua’i. After a twoyear stretch as 22 North, Gaylord’s at Kilohana reopened its doors Jan. 9. The new owner promises the same charming location and a few new additions.

Fred Atkins, owner and managing director of Kilohana Plantation, lured brothers Dylan Scott and Jonathan Pflueger from their Eastside restaurant in Kapa’a to be the new culinary team at Gaylord’s. The Eastside is still open, but now run by a different chef, and is up for sale.

As general manager, Scott’s goal is to provide exquisite service marked with elements of subtle sophistication, warmth, polish, precision and attention to detail. In the kitchen, executive chef Pflueger will complement these ideals by transforming fresh, highquality ingredients into an artistic meal that he hopes will vividly linger in the diner’s memory.

“I want our diners’ palates to experience the sweetness of our sun, the saltiness of our surf and the richness of our land,” Pflueger says. His priority is to source from the gardens and orchards at Kilohana, as well as beef from Kaua’i’s Sanchez Ranch and fish from local fishermen.

These fresh ingredients are crafted into dishes with European and Pan-Asian influences. Each meal starts with a thick chunk of pillowy-soft, house-made focaccia studded with black olives and fresh rosemary, and sprinkled with tiny blocks of sea salt.

The bread helps absorb the potent blend in today’s mojito ($9) made with fresh oranges and sage from the garden, vanilla and Koloa White Rum. If you’re old school, try the 1944 Original Mai Tai ($9) made with white, spiced and dark Koloa Rum.

Burgundy-colored beets glisten like jewels and cascade down a rich leek tart ($12). Topped with rounds of fromage blanc cheese, perky micro greens and fat onion rings, it’s a wonderful blend of elegance and comfort. Juicy, fresh oranges complement the sweet beets, and a sprinkling of sea salt intensifies flavors that burst on the tongue.

Even though it’s called Ahi Tuna Tartare ($14), it’s my new favorite poke. Half-inch cubes of tender ahi are tossed with whole grain mustard, plump capers and slivers of red onion, and conspire to create a blast of zesty flavor. It’s served with a briny housemade black olive tapenade, toasted herb crostini, and topped with a baby arugula salad.

Another dish that blends elegance and comfort is the Potato Crusted MahiMahi ($25). A fresh mahi filet wrapped in paper-thin potatoes sits on a bed of sweet, garlic whipped mashed potatoes; an earthy blend of wild mushrooms spills from the potatoes and mingles with a gingerchampagne sauce.

If you want knock-yourslippahs-off flavah, order the Sesame Seed Seared Ahi Tuna ($26). Barely seared, rare ahi fans over a mound of ginger-scallion sushi rice and lomi lomi tomatoes. A fiery Chinese mustard butter adds a powerful zing. Garnished with avocado tempura, the wildly insane combination of crunchy, warm and creamy leaves me nearly delirious.

Like the old Gaylord’s, diners enjoy their meal outdoors on a U-shaped lanai shaded by an awning.

Tucked inside the lanai is a newly installed dance floor fronted by a stage.

The band Artistic License, headed up John Gilleran, plays pop and contemporary island music every Friday night.

“We created an area for private dining, but mostly for music,” says Gino Quintana, former general manager of Kaua’i Pasta in Lihu’e and the new food and beverage manager at Gaylord’s. “It’s fully lit so at night, when you see it, it’s a stage show.”

By March, Quintana expects to have a foursided teakwood bar installed inside the historic mansion that was built in 1935 by former vice president of Dole Pineapple, Gaylord Wilcox. “We’ll have a fullservice bar that will carry through happy hour,” Quintana says. “We’ll do cocktails, light fare and have a viable kind of lounge setting. Of course, the fireplace is always a nice touch when it’s cool out.”

If you loved Gaylord’s before, you’ll be happy to return to the comforting tables of an old favorite with some fun and elegant additions.

“Each guest will depart awestruck with epicurean delight,” says Pflueger, “eager to return for the timeless, ineffable fine-dining experience that we create.”

Gaylord’s at Kilohana
3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy., Lihu’e

Open Monday-Friday
Lunch: 11 a.m.

Dinner: 5 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Live music Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and at Sunday brunch