Hungry for the Holidays
For decades, chef and restaurateur Peter Merriman has been singing the praises of locally grown and sourced foods. In fact, he’s one of the few visionaries credited with kicking off Hawai‘i’s locavore movement, encouraging farmers and ranchers to expand the diversity of their crops and raise meats locally to ensure a more sustainable Hawai‘i, as well as a fresher and healthier menus. This holiday season, treat yourself to the tastes and stories of Hawai‘i at Merriman’s Honolulu. With rustic, island-inspired décor that pays homage to the history of the area combined with a menu informed by what’s in season at local farms, you’ll find Merriman’s to be an experience that piques all your senses. We caught up with Merriman’s Honolulu Assistant Manager Katy Tanaka to find out what’s cookin’.
Peter Merriman has been a leader in Hawaii’s locavore movement. What type of benefits will restaurant goers find from eating a locally sourced meal?
At Merriman’s, we utilize 90 percent of our ingredients from local producers, ranchers, and fishermen. Guests at Merriman’s will get a true taste of what Hawai‘i has to offer. We have some of the finest and freshest fish and our local farmers, over the last 30 years, have really perfected their own produce.
What local influences does Merriman bring to the table to turn locally sourced produce and food into something totally unique to the Peter Merriman brand?
Peter’s relationship with the local community and with ranchers, farmers, and producers are undoubtedly awe-inspiring as he’s worked with many of them for over 30 years. Since he started Merriman’s in 1988, Peter’s fostered those relationships and continued to cultivate them. When guests dine at Merriman’s, they’re not only tasting peak Hawaii Regional Cuisine, but also authentic dishes that really reflect the local community and culture.
Please tell us about the exciting new seasonal menu items people can find at Merriman’s Honolulu in the Anaha at Ward Village?
Our Thanksgiving prix fix menu has some of our signature Merriman’s dishes such as our macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi and our butter-poached Kona lobster. In addition to these crowd favorites, there are Thanksgiving favorites with a Merriman’s twist, like the vegetable wellington with Hamakua mushroom and walnut, and the roasted organic Diestel turkey with sweet potatoes and cranberry-pineapple ginger relish. For New Year’s Eve, the team created more indulgent dishes like the hand cut cavatelli and winter truffles, and American-style Kobe ribeye, which is perfect for celebrating the New Year.
Can you suggest some wine, beer, or cocktail pairings for these items?
Of course! Our Signature Merriman’s Mai Tai is a must-drink for any guest who dines at Merriman’s. For those seeking to warm themselves up this winter season, order the Kapalua Old Fashion, composed of Wild Turkey, bitters, orange, and Amarena cherry. Or try the New Square cocktail with Rittenhouse Rye, Benedictine, and Pimm’s Velvet Falernum. Both are great pairings to our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus.
Are there any new menu items that promote that sharing and togetherness feeling we like to embrace around the holidays?
Everyone will agree that desserts bring everyone together. Our seasonal menus offer desserts that not only hit the spot, but are very sharable. Parents and kids are sure to love the Thanksgiving desserts—pumpkin pie, chocolate bread pudding, and lilikoi mousse—and our Christmas menu’s duo lilikoi profiterole and flourless chocolate cake is a treat for everyone. On our main menu, the Merriman’s Pupu Taster has something for everyone. Tuck into the kalua pork and Maui onion quesadilla, ahi ginger poke, smoked organic taro humus, and local crudités.
Anything new that we can start salivating for in the coming New Year?
Our team is always working on new menu items and cocktails that are sure to please. In early 2020, we’ll be dishing out a few new menu items and cocktails that are based from our chefs’ trip to Mexico City. Last summer, all of our Merriman’s chefs took a trip to foodie destination, Mexico City, where they explored the local culinary scene. They discovered street markets and vendors, tasted the best that the city has to offer, and left inspired to bring back what they learned to Hawai‘i.