As our time wound down on our trip to Hawaii, we began to feel that we really didn't spend as much time on Maui as we really wanted to. While we were sort of ready to leave the Big Island after a week to get to Maui, we knew before we went back home that we'd left a lot of exploring on the table in Maui - especially when it came to finding restaurants. We had a lot of great suggestions from the valets who would bring our car around each morning at the Grand Wailea. On the last day we were there, we asked one of our favorite valets where we should go for breakfast. He said, "Have you tried Gannon's? It's just down the road up in the clubhouse for the Wailea Golf Club's Emerald and Gold courses." He told us it was wonderful and we should give it a try. This valet hadn't steered us wrong so far, so we took off for Gannon's.
Bev Gannon is one of the dozen Hawaiian chefs who founded the Hawaiian Regional Cuisine movement back in the 1990's. Using island-raised ingredients in her foods, Gannon quickly became one of the more popular chefs on the Hawaiian Islands as she rose through the ranks of owning her own catering business that specialized in lu'au's for large companies, to opening the heralded Hali`imaile General Store in 1988 in Maui's upcountry area. Gannon and her husband, Joe, opened the popular Joe's in the Wailea area in the 1990's. In 2009, the Gannon's took over the Seawatch restaurant at the Wailea Golf Course and it became the fourth flag under the Bev Gannon Restaurant group. Bev Gannon is also the executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines and her recipes are used for meals for first-class passengers.
The Gannon Restaurants attract a large number of celebrities who have enjoyed her family style Hawaiian Regional Cuisine at the Hali'imaile General Store or the contemporary American dishes (with a Hawaiian flair) at both Joe's and at Gannon's. In fact, Joe and Bev Gannon have a history in show business - Bev Gannon was the tour manager for the likes of Liza Minnelli and Ben Vereen for a number of years. And Joe Gannon was well-known in the music industry as being one of the top stage and lighting designers for acts such as Alice Cooper, Julio Iglesias, Barry Manilow and Luther Vandross. Before that, Gannon was in a folk group with the original members of the Kingston Trio, but left the group before they made it big with their first hit song, "(Hang Down Your Head) Tom Dooley". However, Gannon ended up becoming the Kingston Trio's first manager.
Joe Gannon first met Bev when she was working with Liza Minelli in the 70's. A few years later, Bev had left the music industry to study the culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in London. After she graduated, she moved back to her native Dallas and opened her catering business - Celebrations Catering - in the garage of her house. One day, a chance meeting with Joe Gannon in Dallas led to a relationship that took them both to Maui for a vacation in the late 70's. Joe had already fallen in love with the islands during a stint in the Navy, and Bev saw the potential for moving her catering business to Hawaii. Joe and Bev were married on Maui in 1980 and eventually moved there and opened up shop. Their daughter, Teresa, is also involved in the family business, making desserts for the restaurant named after her father.
It was a right hand turn out of the Grand Wailea, then a drive of about a half-mile before a left hand turn that took us to the entrance of the Wailea Golf Club and up to Gannon's that morning (see map). There's a large parking lot off to the side of the main entrance of the clubhouse. Go into the main clubhouse, walk through the large lobby/atrium and then go to the right corner of the room. The entrance to Gannon's is right there.
We were greeted by a hostess and we were escorted through the spacious contemporary dining room toward the patio. The chairs, tables and and columns were heavy dark wood fixtures with wonderful views of the Emerald course to the south. There is a three-sided red bar with a high chairs surrounding the bar. They had college basketball and golf on the flat screen televisions behind the bar. As an aside - I'm a big sports fan, but it's sort of weird to me to wake up on a Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. in Hawaii and tip-off of a college basketball game from the East Coast is just moments away. While in Hawaii, I had trouble getting into televised sporting events that were in prime time back home, but were shown at 3 p.m. in Hawaii. I wasn't about to be sitting in a bar or a hotel room in Hawaii watching a game in the middle of a beautiful afternoon.
We were seated at an all-weather wooden table overlooking the golf course, the Pacific Ocean and the island of Kahoolawe and the Molokini crater. The view was just spectacular. I had trouble focusing on the menu because of how beautiful the view was. With the sun to our back, the blue deep blue water was just mesmerizing. I could have sat there for hours just looking out to the ocean and watching the golfers on the first green of the Emerald Course.
The breakfast menu at Gannon's wasn't all that large, but it was certainly interesting. Most of the offerings were the normal fare - omelets, eggs made to order, mixed fruits and berries. But they also had their own version of the island breakfast staple Loco Moko, plus you could order burgers, french fries and onion rings for breakfast. The one thing that I saw right off the bat was Gannon's Maui sweet bread French Toast. It was topped with a fresh blueberry compote. I'm a sucker for blueberries. I ordered that and got a side of bacon along with a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and a large milk.
Cindy ordered a bowl of fresh fruit berries and had the eggs benedict with salmon and capers. She also had orange juice and she got her coffee to get her going in the morning.
Our breakfast came out not long after we ordered (there weren't a lot of people there for breakfast) and we were soon looking at the scrumptious breakfast our waitress brought us. My French toast featured three thick half-slices of Maui sweet bread with an ample amount of blueberry compote drizzled on top. I don't think I've ever had any combination of French Toast and blueberries, so I was ready to give it a try. My side of bacon consisted of five thick slices of bacon. Compared to other places where I got a side of bacon during our trip to Hawaii, five thick strips for $4 bucks was a bargain.
Cindy's eggs benedict with salmon came with a side of home potatoes. And the bowl of fresh fruit berries was huge. She had no problem with me helping her eat the large, fresh blueberries in the bowl.
My french toast was just excellent. The bread was fresh and chewy, the blueberry compote was syrup-like as I've found with some blueberry compote I've had in the past and there was a nice hint of cinnamon/sugar on the bread. It was just excellent. And the bacon was very good, as well. They must have hog farms on the Hawaiian Islands because of the kalua pork and other pork dishes that we encountered while on vacation. But we certainly never saw any.
Cindy said her eggs benedict were also very good. "These may be the best eggs benedict I've ever had," she exclaimed. The poached eggs were cooked not a second too short or too long, the salmon wasn't as fishy tasting as she'd experienced in the past, and the hollandaise sauce was rich and creamy. Along with the fresh fruit berries, she was very happy with her breakfast.
Gannon's was another winner the valet came up with for us. Before we left, we took a look at the dinner menu and were sort of dismayed that we didn't have dinner there at least once while we were on Maui. While breakfast wasn't all that cheap - over $40 bucks with a nice tip for our waitress - it was very, very good. Gannon's was probably the best breakfast we had while we were on vacation - and we had a number of very good to excellent breakfasts. So my goal now it to one day be able to make it back to Maui and enjoy a meal at each of Bev Gannon's restaurants.