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Downtown Honolulu: Brasserie Du Vin

July 28, 2007


“The Patio”

Kristen and I went to Brasserie Du Vin for dinner a few weeks ago. Situated in the middle of Honolulu’s Chinatown/Downtown nightlife, the long narrow restaurant leads into an open courtyard that previously housed a local tea shop. As the name suggests, Brasserie Du Vin is a wine bar that happens to serve food…which may lead you to wonder why I would come here if I wasn’t even of age to drink just a few weeks ago.

“The Cask Room”

I’ve heard plenty of positive remarks on the food alone, which is enough to pique my interest. Wine could wait till the next visit, I just had a impatient hankering for moule frites that evening.

It’s self seating, and we found a nice little rickety table hovering the space between the bright outdoor patio and the dimly lit ‘cask room’. Glasses were quickly filled, a basket of warm baguette slices were offered, and even after learning that we wouldn’t be drinking for the evening, our waiter was more than accommodating, and if I may say…quite flirty!

We started off dinner sharing an appetizer of crab cakes, which as you may notice, seem to have more breading than crab. Nonetheless, the crab that was present wasn’t overpowered by numerous fillers (which may explain why it was so flat) and the cake as a whole wasn’t the least bit oily. The best part of the dish though, was dijon aioli…I invested quite a few slices of baguette sopping up allll the aioli off the plate.

My first encounter of moule frites was at Balthazar in Manhattan, and believe me, this little Chinese girl from Hawaii was completely enamored with the notion of fries and mussels for dinner! Moule frites are rarely seen on the menus of Honolulu restaurants (the only others I know of is Cassis Honolulu and Town), and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to try it here, especially after reviews in the Advertiser and Honolulu Weekly. While the dish was surely beautiful to the eyes, it didn’t live up to expectations. The mistake was in the fries: unseasoned save for bare bits of parsley, and stingingly portioned in a precarious position on top the steamed mussels (the remainder of the fries were found swimming beneath the clams at the bottom of the dish). Fries are supposed to be an integral part of the dish, not mindless scattering dropped in at the last minute. However the garlicky clams swimming in a savory wine broth were the perfect companion to the baguettes Kristen and I were now consuming at an alarming rate.

Midway through dinner a waiter walking past our table accidentally dropped a wine glass which promptly shattered on the floor and the wine splashed onto my skirt. It was okay though, I was wearing black. He apologized profusely, more so than necessary, and then disappeared. We proceeded on with dinner. I ate more than half of Kristen’s chicken tart (she was so full from all the bread having wiped out two baskets by herself!), layers of roasted chicken on a buttery crisp dough, topped with slices potatoes, red onions, and a generous dazzle of truffle oil. It’s a dish easily concocted at home, but sometimes things taste better when others do it for you. Isn’t that why we eat out?

We were pleasantly full at that point. You know that point. Where you could stop eating and be satisfied, but you continue to order more and eat more thinking..why would you stop before dessert? Kristen loves creme brulee the way I love bread pudding, and in the perfect world, every restaurant we visit together will serve both. But tonight bread pudding was not on the menu and for a brief, very brief moment, I considered the possibility of, gasp, no dessert. But lo and behold, someone must have been watching from up above, for at that exact moment, the waiter who spilled the wine swooped by, apologized once again…and whipped out a chocolate soufflé from behind!

Ooooh it was a dear soufflé: dark, hot and rich like all desserts and men should be, heehee ;) The only thing more I could have asked for was a silky scoop of vanilla gelato to tie in the hot and cold, the molten interior and to offer an angelic touch, cutting though the steaming chocolatey sin.

We arrived at 6pm but it was past 9pm by the time we left – solid proof that time flies when you’re enjoying yourself. This was the first time I’ve had dinner with Kirsten in nearly two years so we had plenty of catching up to do, even more gossiping, and of course deciding whether Brasserie Du Vin was worth returning too…

We concluded that we’ll be back though, for three reasons:

1. I want another chocolate soufflé. And she could use another crème brulee. And man was the baguette addicting!

2. We’re finally of age to drink.

3. They’ve got one darn gorgeous sommelier, Jason Castle. teehee ;)

Brasserie Du Vin

1115 Bethel St

Honolulu, HI 96813

(808) 545-1115

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