Good Things Come At Threes

New restaurant in Kihei, open only three weeks, with three young owners. Great food, great prices, nice ambiance makes a change from all the slightly funky places in the same block. Wheelchair access ramp, indoor seating with air-conditioning, outdoor deck under a shady tree doubles the seating area. No liquor yet, but planning to open a new club/lounge section by April. WIN!

Three’s Bar & Grill, a new Hawaiian Fusion restaurant, occupies the space of the former Bada Bing restaurant in Kihei’s Kalama Village. They serve up a fusion of Hawaiian, Southern, and Eastern cuisine with steak and seafood specialities.

We set out yesterday with a vague plan, as we so often have, to mooch around looking for something interesting to do and then find some lunch. We succeeded greatly, as we went to a couple of shopping places – the funky dirt-parking lot hippie market and then the slightly more upscale funky paved-parking lot collection of shacks and stalls called the Kalama Village. Knowing that there were some restaurants there right off the small lot on the main drag of South Kihei Road, we pulled in to a shady spot and walked into Threes, a new restaurant to us. We’d eaten at the previous eatery at that location, Bada Bing, which was not that memorable a place, frankly. I think we’d had a fish sandwich or a burger served in a basket on their large outdoor deck some years ago (I think on our epic “Mothership” trip when we stayed in the Pau Hana Penthouse with several friends).

So our expectations were not that high, because we’d had mediocre, overpriced food there before – we just wanted some lunch before checking out the shopping opportunities next door.

However, what a pleasant surprise – Threes sports a nicely updated, simple Southwestern decor that still works with the photos and paintings by local artists that decorate the walls. It’s run by three young guys who also have a catering business; we saw at least two of them while ordering our meal, and overheard several conversations from patrons booking catered events, or from people who sounded like advertising reps for local food publications. Good signs for a new restaurant – the catering business now has a “face time” place, and the restaurant business has the catering line as a backup for slower times. They’ve only been open as a restaurant for 3 weeks, and don’t yet have a liquor license, although bringing your own is actively encouraged until they do. The waitstaff seemed smoothly trained and at the right “hover” level for a nicer restaurant (the other restaurants along that block tend toward the “funky beach shack” level of service). There was a slight tendency on the part of some of the staff (one of the co-owners?) to be a bit over-eager, but the vibe was very welcoming, if a bit “OMG, people are here!”

We ordered the “ocean” salads, as we’ve gotten Caesar at nearly every other restaurant (including a delicious tableside production at the Waterfront). There was no seafood on it, only a bit of seaweed garnish; we wouldn’t have expected it to have goat cheese on it, however, so David had to send his back to be de-dairified. However, the dressings were good (either liliuokoi or mango vinaigrette) and the greens tender and yummy, as Maui greens tend to be.

I ordered a “build your own” burger with Cheddar cheese, “Coconut Porter BBQ” sauce, and avocado; other choices included mango chutney and Swiss. It was supposed to be medium rare but arrived a bit more rare-ish than that, but not so much that I needed to send it back. It had great flavor (meat is from Maui Cattle Company) but at 8 ounces, it was quite a big, thick patty which tended to slide out of the bun a bit. Messy, but good fun. I remarked to the waiter that it was probably a “two napkin” burger; he laughed and said he was going to start bringing two with it in the future. David had an ahi fish sandwich that he also enjoyed. I’d almost gone for that, but I’d had that ginormous one at Tommy Bahamas the day before, which was so long that I ate for 5 minutes before reaching the bun. So I was happy with my messy burger, and also happy that I hadn’t also had to cook it like they do at certain “build your own burger” beach shacks at Waikiki Beach.

The prices for lunch, by the way, were very reasonable. So reasonable that I don’t know how long they’ll continue to offer them before being forced to raise them up to more typical Maui prices. We paid about twice as much in Wailea the day before for similar fare. The rest of the menu looked pretty appetizing, too – and like other restaurants, they’re going the “fusion” route in order to offer something a little different from the “ono Island Style” choices that so many other restaurants have on Maui.

I asked our waiter whether they’d been busy on Whale Day, as Kalama Park is just across the street and probably a thousand people were over there enjoying the parade and music that day. He said they’d been slammed, and that he was lucky to not be scheduled to work that day. I can see a good future for this restaurant if they continue to offer great food at great prices, and also they offer a nice upscale place to hang out as an alternative to the “funky shack” spots out on the street along South Kihei Road.

Three thumbs up for Threes! Even more if you have more than 2 people at your table!

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