Maui's Most Exclusive Restaurant Is a Hole in the Wall With Surfer Vibes — and a Fine-dining Tasting Menu

·3 min read

In this spot on Maui's north shore, a chef follows his dream in board shorts.

<p>Courtesy of nyloS</p>

Courtesy of nyloS

What might be the most exclusive restaurant on Maui is not much more than a hole in the wall. The tiny nyloS on the island's north shore is a foodie's dream — for those who can manage to snag a reservation.

The 18-seat, 700-square-foot restaurant is the brainchild of chef Jeremy Solyn, who grew up in Ohio and moved to Maui in 2007 after cooking in the Hamptons, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Tucson. He opened nyloS (named by reversing the letters in his last name) in 2017 on a side street in Paia, a laid-back surfers' paradise with a vibe more fish tacos than foie gras.

It's a mom-and-pop operation, with Solyn working the kitchen and his wife Paulina running the house and serving (though on the night we went, she was out, a sweet and knowledgeable young man taking her place). Generally, the restaurant has two seatings, 5 and 8 p.m., but the second seating didn't happen when we went, meaning service was even more leisurely than usual. (This is not the place to go if you're in a hurry.)

<p>Courtesy of nyloS</p>

Courtesy of nyloS

Dining at nyloS is a true chef's table experience, with the open kitchen visible from every seat. And watching the chef work his magic — in board shorts and a t-shirt — is part of the fun. The menu changes daily, with Solyn relying on local farms and fishermen for many of his offerings. We started off with a dish of Ossetra caviar and Hudson Valley foie gras mousse, accompanied by the glass of bubbly (on this night, Jean-Charles Boisset No. 21 Cremant de Bourgogne) that's always included.

<p>Courtesy of nyloS</p>

Courtesy of nyloS

<p>Courtesy of nyloS</p>

Courtesy of nyloS

The tasting menu is usually six courses, with each an unpredictable combination of flavors. Our second plate featured king crab, white prawn, and bluefin tuna, followed by made-in-house spaghettini with a mushroom-truffle mix, then a sous vide braised prime beef short rib with grilled Maine lobster tail. And from what I've read, the freshly baked herb focaccia with garlic butter is almost always on the menu. Solyn or his server carefully explain every plate in loving detail — if you didn't know about things like moringa powder or micro amaranth before, you will after dinner at nyloS.

<p>Courtesy of nyloS</p>

Courtesy of nyloS

Dessert was an over-the-top mix of a deconstructed Napoleon with local strawberries and vanilla crème, brushed with mint paint, gold dust, and Guittard chocolate (I've simplified here, this article has a word limit after all). Solyn is also a sommelier, so his wine list is extensive, and two five-pour pairings are offered at $70 and $110, along with wine by the glass or bottle. As you might expect, this doesn't come cheap — our dinner was $225 a person before wine and gratuities. The restaurant's website says prices range from $180 to $230.

As with most tasting menus, I felt like I should have stopped halfway through, and I was grateful I'd limited the wine. Still, it was a memorable evening, highlighted by a chef who made his customers feel like they were guests in his own home.