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Monday, August 13, 2012

LE GUIGNOL, CRYSTALS, MANHATTANS, SHIRELLES AND STYLISTICS

Nothing like a pre-meal at Le Guignol, followed by a concert at the Blaisdell Arena or Concert Hall.  The last time I did this was with Pearl and the Eagles.  That was some years ago.


The chef is Travis "Ala" Sutton:




I brought (no corkage charge) a bottle of Stanford University Collector's Reserve Lail Cabernet Sauvignon and a can of Bitburger beer.  I would recommend that they use titanium--instead of lead--wine glasses (hard to break these), for everyone was drinking from thick water glasses.  I had something resembling a normal wine glass, but that was the only one in the place.  My first course was a combined foie gras sauté with cinnamon stewed cherries, plus tomato salad with toasted walnuts, blue cheese and Big Island honey vinaigrette:



The foie gras looked like a piece of liver, which is a no-no.  The taste was okay.  Course #2 was a dish of escargot burgundy with roasted garlic and parsley butter:





This might have been the highlight of night.  It was truly excellent.  Next came veal sweetbreads:



It was a bit doughy, but okay.  Did I say my cholesterol reading just about doubled tonight?  No expresso nor cappuccino, so I had a cup of coffee, which was lukewarm.

There is something now missing from Le Guignol.  I well remember when Sutton's older brother Shane (who is now in Las Vegas) was the chef (Ala was the pastry chef then) and their mother (Leilani, who has since passed away)was the personality that greeted guests.  Even only a couple of years ago there was still some class.  Ala only had one waiter, who was pleasant, but lacked polish and experience.  Their reservation system is also not functioning well.  The location is supreme, for you can park there, have a fine meal with all the wine you want, go on to a concert, then, sober, drive home safely.  

Chef Sutton needs to re-think his golden duck.  The decor can certainly use a minor spruce up, plus, what about real wine glasses.  After traveling the world several times and dining at a wide variety of MIchelin 3 stars and Pellegrino Top 100 restaurants, and getting to know some of these personalities, I think Ala can get some of these world-renowned chefs, as they stop through Hawaii, to put in a guest appearance.  Perhaps Shane knows Joel Robuchon (I ate at his 3 star restaurant the last time I stayed in Vegas).  Even only one dignitary visit a year might suffice.  I'll definitely go back to Le Guignol, but I really want the restaurant to reach for a much higher standard.  This might well be THE ONLY AUTHENTIC FRENCH RESTAURANT in all of Hawaii.  He should strive for at least one Michelin star, something that is attainable with the right planning and orchestration.




Anyway, then I went to see four groups perform across the street.  Tom Moffatt MC'd his Summer Soul Fest.  The Shirelles, Crystals and Manhattans became popular half a century ago.  I believe at least one member of each individual group was an original.  The Sylistics got together in the later 60's and had the most professional act.


  The Shirelles were the first rock era girl group to make the Billboard Hot 100, with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"  By 1961 they had hits in "I Met Him On a Sunday (Ronde-Ronde)", "Dedicated to the One I Love," "Mama Said," "Baby It's You" and "Soldier Boy." They are the original "Dream Girls" and at around the time of their first  hit were accompanying other major artists like Etta James and Little Richard. The Shirelles created most of their songs, but "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," was written by the wife-husband team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin, thus starting their career.  Burt Bacharach began his with "Baby It's You."  Many of their hits were made over by the Beatles, Adele, Dione Warwick, Aretha Fnklin, Erip Clapton, The Mamas and the Papas and Smokey Robinson.


The Manhattans dawdled along through the sixties, but only really struck gold in 1976 with "Kiss and Say Goodbye."  A few years later came "Shining Star," their #2 hit.  Their lead singer during these heady times was Gerald Alston, nephew of the Shirelles Shirley Owens Alston-Reeves (guess where the Shirelles name came from).  These groups keep changing line-ups, for at one time Eban Brown was with them, and is now the lead singer for the Stylistics. 



The Crystals (bet you can't guess who is the original--click on the third song below to view her singing lead) started with a bang in the early '60's:  "He's a Rebel," "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me."  Each featured a different lead singer and the trio was produced by "wall of sound" Phil Spector, who is now spending at least 17 more years in jail for second degree murder.  Read about his prison rage.  



The Stylistics represent Philadelphia soul.  In the 70's they had a dozen consecutive R&B hits.  Like all of these surviving groups, they had their ups and down, changing singers and actually found success in Europe (later 70's) and Japan a few years ago.


The following is from their greatest hits (1992):

TrackDurationListeners
1Can't Give You Anything But My Love3:114,316
2You Make Me Feel Brand New5:5041,822
3Let's Put It All Together2:569,302
4You'll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart)3:3613,403
5Rockin' Roll Baby4:346,315
6Sing Baby Sing2:546,341
7Na Na Is The Saddest Word3:011,975
87000 Dollars & You3:22272
9Star On A TV Show4:092,837
10I'm Stone In Love With You3:1919,188
11Betcha By Golly, Wow3:4826,953
12Funky Weekend3:254,412
13Peek-A-Boo2:554,356
14Can't Help Falling In Love3:172,859
15Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)2:5211,133
16Sixteen Bars3:392,913
17Break Up To Make Up3:5925,853
18You Are Everything3:1235,005

You can listen to each song by clicking on the circle button.  If not available, click on the song and following directions.

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