Jack Tyrrell specializes in Kakaako, Honolulu, Hawaii luxury condo projects.

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Ward Village Update: The Locavore Comes to Town

Photo: Ward Village

Photo: Ward Village

The below post was originally posted on Ward Village's blog, and can be found online here:

Only a few decades ago, a local-first approach to dining was practically unheard of in the islands. Scant regard was given to sourcing locally-grown produce, fruits, and meats.

Historically, big ag organizations producing sugarcane and pineapple dominated the landscape in the islands and the vast majority of the food we consumed was shipped to the state from thousands of miles away. In an alarming fact, on average, most of the food consumed in America travels more than 1,500 miles before arriving at a local supermarket, but in Hawai'i 85 to 90 percent of our food is imported and has an average travel distance of 4,500 miles.

Peter Merriman photographed by Anna Kim, courtesy of Ward Village

Peter Merriman photographed by Anna Kim, courtesy of Ward Village

Enter Peter Merriman, a young, ambitious chef who had the foresight to change the game. When Merriman opened his first restaurant in 1988 in Waimea in the Big Island, his vision for producing regional cuisine, forged from locally sourced ingredients, proved groundbreaking. In its early days, Merriman was so determined to work with local farmers, that he told them, "If you grow it or catch it...I'll buy it." The result, paired with Merriman's expert approach in the kitchen, laid the framework for a food revolution that garnered worldwide praise. As it turns out, our food tastes better when it's fresh. And when we support local farms, we do our part to strengthen our economy and wean ourselves off dependence from the mainland.

However, Merriman's approach to creating a more positive and sustainable restaurant didn't end with his relationships to local farmers. With a simple but beautiful mantra to "Do the Right Thing" for the land, the community and guests, Merriman has become one of the most successful restaurateurs in the state. Fast-forward to today and Peter Merriman is proud to be known as the pioneer of the Hawai'i Regional Cuisine Movement and in the not-too-distant future, he's opened a new location right here at Ward Village.

His latest concept (located on the ground floor of the Anaha residential tower) is a reflection of all the values that have made his restaurants so successful. Led by executive chef Jon Matsubara, the new restaurant includes a 6,000 square foot space with an expansive 1,800 square foot lanai, perfect for soaking in the sunset while enjoying your dinner. Under the watchful eye of Chef Matsubara, guests will find a plethora of delicious concoctions on the menu, including their famous lobster pot pie and cast-iron chicken.

Step into their expansive new space and you'll see the end result of Merriman's original vision played out in a beautiful, urban setting. Nearly three decades later, the farm-to-table movement has become a central element in forming Hawaii's modern culinary identity and we're thrilled to welcome Merriman's into the Ward Village ohana. The locavore has set down new roots.

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Merriman’s in Honolulu set for Saturday opening

The long-anticipated Merriman's on the ground floor of Anaha will be ready for business this Saturday, June 23! Merriman's marks Ward Village's latest fine dining offering, joining the popular Nobu Honolulu on the ground floor of Waiea. Merriman's features Hawaii and French bistro-style food. The new location focuses on farm-to-table ingredients and features new dishes not found on the Maui, Kauai, or Big Island locations, including Tako & Country Bread, served escargot-style covered in garlic butter; Kualoa Ranch “Smokin’ Oysters,” infused with smoke under a dome to be released with hazy aplomb at the table; and roasted cauliflower served with walnuts, romaine and aged sherry. This will be the first restaurant owned by Chef Peter Merriman on Oahu (his more casual Monkeypod Kitchen is a joint venture). 

Watch the Honolulu Star Advertiser's sneak peak video above, and read their first impression, below:

Chef Peter Merriman’s Honolulu restaurant opens Saturday in the Anaha complex in Ward Villages.

Preview sessions at Merriman’s began Monday, introducing the menu to Anaha residents, employees of other restaurants in the Merriman’s family, vendors, suppliers and the media.

Merriman said the restaurant will reflect the farm-to-table roots of all his restaurants, but with a recognition of its location in modern Kakaako. “One of our themes is farm to high-rise,” he said.

Specialties developed for the Merriman’s Ward location include Tako & Country Bread, served escargot-style covered in garlic butter; Kualoa Ranch “Smokin’ Oysters,” infused with smoke under a dome to be released with hazy aplomb at the table; and roasted cauliflower served with walnuts, romaine and aged sherry.

Classic Merriman’s dishes from either the original Waimea restaurant on the Big Island or in Kapalua, Maui, include steamed clams in garlic butter and a lobster pot pie, both made with seafood from Keahole.

Merriman, one of the original Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs, has seven restaurants on four islands. This new restaurant will be his eighth and the first in Honolulu directly owned by him (his more casual Monkeypod Kitchen and Moku Kitchen are partnerships with Handcrafted Restaurants).

The executive chef at Ward is Jon Matsubara, who has opened three previous high-end Honolulu restaurants — Stage at the Honolulu Design Center, Azure at the Royal Hawaiian and Forty Carrots at Bloomingdale’s.

Reservations for opening night and beyond are being taking at merrimanshawaii.com. Hours at the Ward location will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; with happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.

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