Gaylord’s returns — still fresh and fabulous

The English-Tudor style mansion built by Gaylord Parke Wilcox in 1935 at Kilohana Plantation has undergone numerous changes over the last few years.

In 1983, Gaylord’s residence was converted into Gaylord’s Restaurant. In July 2010, it transformed into 22 North, which boasted farm-to-table fare for locavores. On Dec. 31, 22 North closed, and a little more than a week later, it reopened as Gaylord’s once again — and with a menu described as a little Hawaiian, a little farm fresh, a little French and offering lots of local favorites.

The low-key closing and re-opening peaked the curiosity of this foodie, who stopped by for lunch with a co-worker last week after the rains finally subsided.

To our pleasant surprise, many things remain the same: excellent service, an enchanting atmosphere and fresh, affordable food. Food and beverage manager Gino Quintana said vegetables and herbs still come from the garden and the fruit from the orchid, just as with 22 North.

On the lunch menu, guests will find seasoned almonds, Ligurean olives, edamame and a charcuterie platter offered as starters. The light fare offerings include court bouillon poached shrimp salad (a favorite), pickled beet salad (my favorite), house smoked salmon, ahi poke, authentic sesame crab spring rolls, island caprese, a local field green salad and a Caesar salad, with or without either chicken or seared ahi.

Full plates offered by head chef Jonathan Pfluegar, who came to Gaylord’s from The Eastside restaurant in Kapa‘a, include tomato and zucchini quiches, ahi tuna nicoise, beer battered fish tacos made with mahi mahi, prosciutto pizza, beer-bq (barbecue) chicken wings, Kilohana burgers made with local A‘akukui Ranch ground chuck, red wine braised beef short-rib “dip,” and Hawaiian lava salt-crusted New York steak.

We opted to split the pickled beet salad and short-rib “dip.” The colorful salad was a warm leak tart, toped with melted fromage blanc, micro greens, earthy pickled beet cubes and a few crispy buttermilk-battered onion rings — so light that they melt in your mouth.

The “dip” was delectable slices of tender, marinated beef on a crispy sourdough baguette topped with horseradish whipped cream, melted gruyere and a generous bowl of French onion au jus for dipping.

All in all, I would call it comfort food — sinfully delicious and slightly hearty — perfect for a chilly afternoon.

Word around the mansion’s fireplace is it will soon offer live, on-stage music with dancing in the courtyard, concerts in the park and a full-service bar and lounge with Happy Hour specials.

For more information, visit gaylordskauai.com or call 245-9593.

• Vanessa Van Voorhis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 251, or by emailing vvanvoorhis@thegardenisland.com.

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