There are probably better restaurants on Maui. Maybe Roy's, Hali'iimale General Store or someplace in Wailea are better, but the thing is lots of people know about them. How about trying a place that will serve a maximum of 150 people each week and is only open for eight months a year? A place committed to serving the freshest locally grown ingredients, staffed with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff? A place requiring reservations, serving only lunch? A place that almost no one knows about?
It's The Class Act, a restaurant operated by the Maui Culinary Academy on the Maui Community College campus.
Here students under the watchful eyes of their instructors prepare and serve a four course Pacific fusion lunch to a maximum of 75 people each Wednesday and Friday when school is in session. The Class Act, a light airy room with a view of the open kitchen, is on the second floor of one of the Community Campus buildings. Expansive windows overlook the parking lot, but tables further back only see palm trees, ocean and the occasional cruise ship docked at Kahului harbor.
Lunch is the equal of dinner at any number of posh restaurants throughout the island. Service is impeccable. Your server can describe menu choices in great detail since he or she has either already taken a turn in the kitchen preparing the dishes or will shortly. Over the course of a semester, students working in the Upper Crust take a turn at each role in a restaurant: in the kitchen, as a server, as maitre d'. It's interesting to watch the students doing their best to be as professional as possible while interacting with the guests, knowing that their instructors are also observing.
The price, $27 (going up to $28 in fall, 2008), may scare some away. It's a lot for lunch, but compare it to dinners at other places. The four course lunch starts with fresh baked bread, an amuse bouche (a little taste of something special from the kitchen), your choice of two appetizers, your choice of entrees (generally meat, fish and vegetarian dishes are offered) and your choice of two desserts. Ice tea or coffee is included. Sorry, no alcoholic beverages are served, although you may bring your own wine.
Let's take a look at one possibility: Appetizer - Roasted Ishii Farms beet salad with warm goat cheese, candied almonds and white balsamic carrot vinaigrette. Entree - Basil crusted fish with citrus brown butter and Yukon gold potato parsnip puree. Dessert - Vanilla pistachio creme with carmelized bananas and mascarpone mousse. Mmmm.
Reservations are necessary and are accepted starting seven days in advance. Call 808-984-3280. Seating starts at 11 am, with last table seated at 12:30.