I finally made it to Chef Mavro’s Julie + Julia dinner and boy was it worth the wait. It was exactly what I hoped for and anticipated in my previous announcement about this special dinner. You have til the end of this month to go. Book a table while you can—and if only 8:30 is open, TAKE IT.
This special is attracting younger gourmands who haven’t yet ventured to Chef Mavro. The room was lively and full, the service by Michael and Todd and their team was perfect as always.
Dining with Natalie Aczon and Susan Schofield, witty repartee and savvy world knowledge made the food even more delicious. And I am blown away by what you get for $59—besides the three courses, it includes an amuse bouche (which is always mind boggling at Chef Mavro—jolts you to culinary attention), a “pre-dessert” of melon balls suspended in Champagne jelly (hurray crazy Japanese desserts!) and petits fours (superchoco blocks, nougat and caramel). Wine is extra, and the pairings exemplary.
This is the punchy amuse bouche—Kahuku corn puree exoticized with a hint of garam masala, topped with a dollop of lime-chive-scented fresh cream, topped by julienned pickled radish. Like every amuse bouche I’ve had at Chef Mavro, I wanted a soupbowlfull.
The three classic bistro dishes were absolutely textbook perfect—and with soul. They satisfied the severe French cravings that Julie & Julia awoke in me. No salad can beat this savory combo of slightly bitter, tangly greens with egg yolk bursting out of its soft white casing and coating everything with its yellow creaminess, and intermittent bites of bacon giving the composition just the right meaty saltiness. *sigh* Oh I wish I were strolling down the rue Napoleon right now to duck into my favorite nonentity bistro.
Da-da-DAN. The serving of the beouf bourgignon. (See how chef George Mavrothalassitis makes it at home.) Anticipation killing us as we watch the glistening stew come out of the pot scoopful by scoopful. Meat and veggies cooked separately just as Julia instructed.
I wish I had a better camera, so you could clearly make out the flecks of mirepoix (tinily chopped carrots, celery, onions) that give the dish its hint of sweetness. Thank you Mark Noguchi for tourné-ing all those perfect little potatoes! He later joked how he’s now the RoboTournéer. He can tourné anything in five seconds flat. The meat marinates a full day in burgundy wine, then is simmered for four hours. All that slow process results in intense flavor. Comfort food? It’s like going back in time and suckling at your mother’s breast again.
Call me Jack Spratt. The ugly aftermath.
Then came my favorite dessert of all time. Tarte tatin. Caramelized apple tart. There was a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but who cares about that. This was perfection.
Such an honor to see a chef and his team (Mavrothalassitis is actually off-island at the moment, and Kevin Chong, Andrew Le and cohort are doing exemplary job) going back to simpler roots. Like, does Alan Wong make fried rice at home, and if yes, I wish I could try it.
I’m trying to live in the moment, but I am overcome by sadness to think that when September is over…oh, I don’t want to think about it. Honolulu is so desperate for a basic real-French bistro or brasserie.
Chef Mavro, 1969 S. King St. at McCully Street; 808-944-4714