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Le Bistro

August 10, 2007


It’s a shame I couldn’t afford to eat a Le Bistro for dinner every night.

Because if I could, I most certainly would. Situated in the Niu Valley strip mall, just steps away from Lung Fung and the KFC that accidentally spilled their mashed potatoes on me exactly a decade ago, Le Bistro is the type of restaurant that makes you feel quite welcome and right at home.

We stopped in for an early dinner Thursday evening and found the restaurant about half-full around 6pm. The three of us were seated in a cozy corner next to an elderly couple. A waiter with blond hair and a heavy accent, wine for my parents, water for myself, a basket of sesame speckled lavosh and hot french bread started the evening.

Loaves of bread seemed to appear from nowhere as we most happily soaked up the hot melted garlicky butter from the little nooks of the escargot cocotte. It was rather satisfying on the rainy evening. Hot Butter. Crusty Bread. Snails.

A ‘salad’ of roasted bacon wrapped fig on a bed of dark greens. Somewhat pricey at $11 for a single fig, but the sheer meatiness radiating from the smoky, near charred bacon melting into the soft, creamy fig was beyond delight.

My braised shortribs were fine creatures, though far from meeting the fork tender version at Kaimuki’s 12th Avenue Grill. When I eat braised shortribs, I’m asking for an effortless dish, where I can just lift and let the meat melt over my tongue like a hot chocolate soufflé.

However, what did satisfy my desire for effortless consumption was the side of whipped potatoes. Oh-so true to their simple name, the quite spoonfuls of creamy, garlicky air asked for nothing more than my satisfaction.

Mom and dad each had the lamb chops, quite content they were, still raving about them the day after. I afraid I didn’t have a taste, I was busy tucking into the comfort of whipped potatoes. My only regret was not paying the $25 supplement for a shaving of black truffles, which would have sent bliss far over the top.

And of course. I would never dare opt for another dessert if bread pudding should appear on the menu. And this was a mighty delicious choice, a thin, wide pudding, lightly dotted with chocolate chips. It was perhaps the lightest bread pudding I’ve had to date, surely luxurious though far from decadent. Each mouthful tasted more of an eggy, creamy sponge cake, than bread soaked custard. It near reminded me of creme brulee, only in place of a torched sugar shell, your spoon need only gently break through a lightly browned layer of pudding, perhaps dare nabbing a share of the vanilla gelato.

I would have stopped at the bread pudding, as my parents are not the biggest fans of dessert. But the apple tart I spotted at a nearby table earlier was too beautiful to pass on. And it was wonderful, I daresay even better than the bread pudding. It was light, delicate, fine layers of puff pastry, apples sliced so thin they were near transparent, topped by a light brushing of syrup and dash of cinnamon. Like the bread pudding, it was flat and wide. It was such a light dessert that you could consume the whole thing in four bites and not feel the least bit of added weight!

Service was the best I’ve had anywhere on the island, this summer at least. Execution, delivery, everything was spot on. If there was one restaurant I’d like to return to before I leave this summer, Le Bistro would be the one.

Le Bistro

5730 Kalaniana’ole Highway

Niu Valley Shopping Center

Honolulu, Hawaii 96821

(808) 373-7990

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