Shearwater Tavern was an incredible find during my recent trip to Maui. I had to find a time to visit the tavern by myself so I helped put the kids to bed in our condo and then swung by. At this point it was 9pm local time which felt like midnight to my PST brain. But, poutine waits for no man.
My first impression of Shearwater was actually a bit of a surprise. It doesn’t look like a Maui establishment, but the classy modern pub vibe would be a good fit almost anywhere. The food was imaginative and foodie-centric, but also affordable and approachable. That’s hard to find on the island. For example, this poutine appetizer was only $8.95. That’s about $5 in mainland dollars.
The beer-braised oxtail poutine was drool inducing by name alone. It’s listed as an appetizer but there’s enough food on the plate for a small meal. The plating itself was attractive and inviting. There was obviously a lot of care and technique in the preparation. The contrast between the dark oxtail, white egg, and bright red pickled jalapeño was enhanced by a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Beautiful.
Starting at the bottom, the fries were nice on their own. I didn’t have my fry calipers with me, but I’d guess they were between 8 to 10 millimeters. They were lightly seasoned, crispy, hot, and creamy inside. The braised oxtail was served in a fine shred over the bed of fries. The meat was tender and moist with a deep heartiness. It reminded me of a rich stew. The juices were less of a gravy and more of an aus jus. I was going to nit pick something, that’d be it. Gravies are easier to eat with french fries than thinner sauces, and honestly it’d probably be more economical for their kitchen. You can stretch the oxtail a bit more with a gravy.
They also used fresh and fluffy mozzarella curds that stayed at that half melty sweet spot the whole time. The fried egg on top was perfectly executed with crisp edges, a runny and rich yolk, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. So good! With all those rich ingredients it’s nice to get a contrasting flavor. Shearwater adds some pickled jalapeño slices to provide some heat and brightness. I loved that and would ask for twice as much next time. Getting all those elements into a single bite was a challenge but when it happened it was incredible.
I liked this dish. Loved it, even. For me it’s an 8.6 out of 10 on my rating scale but with a little tweaking it could easily hit 9, or even higher. While I wouldn’t recommend bringing small kids, you should definitely bring yourself. Ditch the kids, you deserve it.
I also tried a Raspberry Shrub from their bar that was one of the best mocktail I’ve ever had. Click here for that review.
Sampled in May 2017