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.
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.
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.
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.
Like 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.
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.
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.