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Le Bistro

August 31, 2008

I’ve been anticipating writing this entry for some time, much in the same way I anticipate every meal at Le Bistro. Except I have a feeling this post is not to live up to the hype in my mind, whereas Le Bistro never ceases to excel.

The hyperbole is already flowing like wine, but heck, Le Bistro deserves it.

As a couple, Mizuho and I are always in need of a special place that we can get away to to “be adults,” and bask in the ecstatic highs of decadent culinary sophistication. Not because of our superior knowledge of ingredients and preparation. We don’t even qualify as foodies. I guess it’s kind of like going to the opera without knowing anything about the history of the plays, the actors or the music, and loving it nonetheless. Not that I do that kind of thing, but you know what I mean.

Let me be clear that I’m not trying to undercut our authority in any way. We have great instincts when it comes to food. This review is a case in point.

In Tokyo, our home kitchen was the Cardenas Charcoal Grill – which we feel, incidentally, has slipped in quality over the years. My suspicion is they’ve spread themselves too thinly with all the new openings in the Cardenas portfolio.

Last Christmas we were looking for a similar place in Hawaii to celebrate the arrival of my 32nd year on planet. The options, as proposed by Mizuho, were centering around the known Honolulu standards: Alan Wong’s, that kind of thing. But I couldn’t help feeling, as I eyed the underwhelming promotional websites, that such places slice the cheese maybe a bit thick. Not to pass premature judgment on places we will hopefully one day dine. But my inner Pavlov was not ringing.

Then there was this dark horse candidate, a little place outside town on the way to Hawaii Kai called Le Bistro, with no website. As we vacillated hopelessly about where to go, Mizuho began to think this was the one. I found a blog where someone was raving about the place – she even took pictures of every dish she ate. Now that’s serious, I thought. The deal was sealed.

To make a long story short, we went, we saw, we enjoyed. And just about a month ago, it was time for round two: Mizuho’s birthday.

Entrance is always the most disappointing part of the evening for me at Le Bistro. I can’t help thinking they could do more with the interior. Van Gogh prints and large dried flowers in floor vases straight out of Pier 1 just don’t strike me as very fresh. And the table layout which seems designed to allow maximum waiter flow doesn’t otherwise appear to have been considered from a customer point of view.

That’s ok. The wait staff are on the level: knowledgeable, charming without being intrusive and on-the-money sensitive to what is happening at the table (though ours this time was a little late on the wine pours – tsk, tsk).

Then, the food. Sadly, the details of the meal are lost somewhere in the webby folds of my brain, but I do remember I had the braised lamb chops, each bite bursting with an infusion of herbal delights – possibly a little too intense, but I like intense. Mizuho’s lobster was about as good as it gets this side of Maine. Oh yeah, creme brulee for desert – one of the best I’ve had anywhere. And there is a nice selection of alcohol-infused coffee cocktails, allowing one to combine the after dinner drink with a shot of espresso. I have a soft spot for them, and they go down real well after an epic tour of sensory indulgences.

So, from my humble little perspective, Le Bistro has set the bar for culinary excellence in Hawaii. And a cartoonish, fat French chef has appeared to tell me that it’s probably not going to get much better than that on this island.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 31, 2008 3:26 pm

    Thanks so much for this posting.

    We also love this restaurant and are continuously pleased to return time and time again.

    Kim

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