Saturday, March 12, 2016
15 CRAIGSIDE GOES TO CHEF MAVRO
I had not been to Chef Mavro for more than a decade, and was curious as to how it had improved. Well, things have gotten worse, with details coming. Here is our leader, Cookie at the entrance.
George Mavrothalassitis was born in Provence, France and came to Hawaii in 1988 as executive chef of La Mer. He opened his own restaurant in 1998. In 2007 he started a casual dining French restaurant called Cassis. He has won numerous awards and has made frequent appearances on the top national cooking programs. So what happened?
Honolulu magazine annually honors the top restaurants in Hawaii. Chef Mavro is notably absent, although it was #3 for Best Tasting Menus. You can shift dishes, sometimes for a hefty price, but but there is no ala carte menu and no wine list. The Hale 'Aina awards have just about every ethnic branch, but no French. Many of them closed over the past few decades. I think the best is Vintage Cave, with La Mer and Le Bistro, (here I am with Chef Alan Takasaki when 15C went here two months ago), to me, ranked #2 and #3.
This is how the place looks, (we sat in that dark area in the back with no view, and no one else sat near us--it was not anywhere near capacity at any time), and their best table faced Jack in the Box:
You had a choice of 4, 6 or eleven (?) courses. There was also a free first amusement, cold watercress soup with an egg tart topped with trout eggs, which was excellent:
I took the 6 menu for $148, with wine pairings for an additional $63. But I couldn't have lobster, so I substituted a Perigord Truffle Risotto, for which I had to pay an EXTRA $45. The rice dish was okay, but you would have thought taking away a lobster meal should have some financial benefits. Also, I picked the Australian Tajima Wagyu over the lamb and laid out out another $35 for this privilege. If you're counting, I'm now up to $291, plus tax and tip, so my meal cost more than $350 when you added the cappuccino.
Frankly, I thought the value was not there for this price. The wines were average. Yet, the service was excellent, and Ashley handled my questions and intemperateness well. There were twelve of us and just about everyone else leaned in my direction as to poor quality, especially for the money we spent. I suggested that we provide no more than a 15% tip, but the bill came with a mandatory 17%. Another negative. However, it was worse, much worse, at M/W, where 15C dined about a year ago. Chef Marvro's was at least okay and not terrible in any way. M/W was our worst outing, by far. Just about every other restaurant we have experienced, and we have now been doing this twice/month for than a month, was terrific, or close to it.
My first real course was a Hudson Valley Foie Gras Parfait, with pine nuts, fruits and a rather large toasted brioche:
I liked this creamy treat, and thought the first two dishes were fabulous as a beginning. The wine was a Chateau Gravas, a more than adequate sweet Sauternes. Whoops, I just noticed, looking at my menu, that this foie gras, even though it is part of the tasting menu for $148, cost an additional $9. That is no way to mislead a a customer when you have no choice in that matter.
The Opah could have been fine, but the temperature was almost cool. I asked Ashley if this was supposed to be a warmer form of sashimi, but she admitted, no. This could have been the worst of the lot.
That pile of brown dirt is becoming fashionable at these fancy restaurants, but I found this particular composite too dangerously crunchy. Not good for old teeth. The wine was a Pascal Jolivet Sancerre.
As I am allergic to crustaceans, my lobster was replaced with Carnaroli Rice Risotto with Parigiano Reggiani and truffles, both cooked into the meal and shaved:
While nothing close to all those truffles risotto dishes I had on my 65-day Grand Around the World trip last year, this one was adequate, if not good. The truffles, however, lacked that special pungency I savored in Europe. I think they actually served me an extra glass (they were all around 2.5 ounces), for first came a Chablis, then, recognizing I had substituted this risotto, a second glass, a Masi Costasera Amazon Della Valpolicella Classico. Good for them.
With all the food above, and the sharing that occurs on these outings, I was still not satiated. The Australian Tajima Wagyu, for an extra $35, was nothing close to Miyazaki Wagyu:
The tiny pieces of beef, said on the menu to be tastier than Kobe from Japan, which I beg to differ, is accompanied by Charlotte's duckling. They served a Ridge Vineyards red wine from Sonoma. The reds were all too spicy for me.
Sitting around me were Sets and Eppie, Jerilynn (with her Meli-Melo salad) and Charlotte/Alfred, who you can hardly see in the background:
Further in the background is our second table of six, and they all ordered the 6-course option.
The fifth dish was supposed to be goat cheese, but I hate it, and had difficulty having our waiter find me some other cheese. Turned out they had run out of goat cheese anyway, and we all got Brie with apples, and I also had some lamb, I think, from someone else;
The wine was a Vouvray from Loire Valley. I wondered why the chef used sour apple. Something more Pacific-Asian, like lychee or dragon fruit would have been more appropriate.
We shared some desserts:
Mine featured chocolates, while the 4-coursers got a coconut concoction. I favored theirs over my dessert. Then, more chocolates with a cappuccino and Taylor Floodgate Tawny Port:
YIKES, I JUST SAW MY BILLING: $373.05. Upcoming over the next month will be The Pig and The Lady, plus Japanese BBQ Yoshi.