Have you been to 12th Avenue Grill lately?

Big Island boar in broth with Hamakua mushrooms

Honolulu’s original contemporary American bistro turned five this year. And 12th Avenue Grill is only getting better. A dinner two weeks ago, with three discerning eatizen joes and a jane from San Francisco in tow, elicited surprised cries of delight. As usual, the specials were all instant winnahs. Like this starter of Big Island boar in a broth with gnocchi, hamakua mushrooms and other stuff (I just wanted to enjoy dinner and didn’t take any notes, gah). It is a quintessential “chasseur” dish that signals autumn is finally here.

Duo of conch ceviche and grassfed beef carpaccio
A duo of conch ceviche and grassfed beef carpaccio. I thought the conch would be like the briny rubberbands I had in Key West long ago, instead it was tenderly chewy. Instant winnah.

Napa cabbage salad with bacon-wrapped mountain apple
My favorite dish of the night—simple and scintillatingly delicious won bok salad with bacon-wrapped mountain apple. A local play on my favorite raciones—bacon-wrapped dates. Amazing how sweet and caramelized the naturally mild fruit got. Could eat this for daze.

Skirt steak with classic port reduction atop uber cheesy mashed spuds

Couldn’t pass up skirt steak in a classic port reduction. Underneath this meatfest is a cache of blue cheesed mashed spuds. Intense. Intensely wonderful.

Scallops in beet coulisLike I said, I didn’t take notes, but these were exactingly cooked scallops, soft and sweet in a beet coulis (I think!). In any case—instant winnah.

Honey chicken
I rarely order chicken, but one of my dining companion’s honey-ginger-glazed chicken convinced me that is what I will order on my next visit. Crazily moist. The sweet balanced by the earthiness of the mushroom ragout hat.

Mango upside-down cakelette.

Yes, this mango upside-down cakelette was as good as it looks.

News: 12th Avenue Grill now offers a very happy hour, called Craft Bar, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Perch at the red oak bar for microbrews ($3), seasonal martinis ($4), tapas ($5-$8). Plus the restaurant’s popular 8-oz. ground chuck burger can be had for $7.

The restaurant also had a Fall Rhône Wine Dinner on Oct. 28. I was sorry to have missed it and hope another comes up soon. I’ll keep you posted.

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