Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday grandeur at Chef Mavro

Nadine Kam photos
Roasted Keahole lobster is on Chef Mavro’s Grand Degustation Menu, and available as a seafood option on the restaurant’s holiday menu. It’s served with housemade choucroute, kabocha confit, grilled Brussels sprout leaves, layered over kabocha and crustacean essence purée. Pairing: Morlet Family Vineyards, 2013 Chardonnay “Ma Douce,” Sonoma coast (premium selection).


AT Chef Mavro, chef-owner George Mavrothalassitis, chef de cuisine Jonathan Mizukami and their team recently made it to No. 59 on La Liste of Top 101 restaurants in the United States, the only Hawaii restaurant to make the exclusive list.

La Liste is based on an algorithm named Ciacco—the nickname of Dante’s gluttonous friend in “The Inferno”—created by French-American computer systems architect Antoine Ribaut. Ribaut drew on data from sources that included 200 food guides in 92 countries, such as Michelin, Gault & Millau and Zagat, and crowd-sourced sites like TripAdvisor and OpenTable.

A committee of experts helped to define the criteria, including the quality of food, ambience, wine and spirits lists, and service, to come up with La Liste for 48 countries.

If you want to know what the fuss is about, now is a good time to sample Chef Mavro’s fall menu, with all the luxurious touches you’d expect for season of getogethers and entertaining out-of-towners.

I recently revisited to try the fall Grand Degustation menu of 15 courses, including amuse bouche, intermezzo and mignardises. The presentation may differ from the photos, but many of the grand degustation dishes will also appear as options on the chef’s holiday “Art of Pairing Food and Wine” six-course menu, at $148 per person Dec. 23 through Jan. 3 (except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve). Optional wine pairings are $98 per person. You can view the holiday options, including a New Year’s Eve gala menu online at
Chef Mavro is at 1969 King St. at McCully. Call (808) 944-4714.

Meli-Melo salad of Upcountry vegetables of the day, Sumida Farms watercress, escarole, crispy mushroom persillade, grilled Ali'i Mushrooms, essence of mushroom vinaigrette and pinot noir sauce. Pairing: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, 2012 Alsace blend.

This is a Hudson Valley foie gras parfait, topped with preserved Black Mission fig, pinot noir gelée and Marcona almond purée, served with a side of toasted brioche. Even though I could not finish all of this, I would not let it go, thinking I might get a second wind and finish over the course of the meal. Pairing: Chateau Gravas, 2011 Sauternes.

Marseilles fisherman’s soup is a hometown specialty of Chef Mavro, with onaga, saffron, rouille and aioli-topped crouton. This dish made me want to head to the kitchen to make my own aioli so I could taste this every day. So delicious. Pairing: Domaine Ott, 2014 Bandol Rose, Chateau Romassan.

Juniper berry cured opah belly is served with red beets, pickled Japanese cucumber, dill pudding and a crunchy mixture of crumbled coffee flour rye bread which gave wonderful texture and flavor to the dish. Pairing: Pascal Jolivet, 2014 Sancerre.

Offered on the Grand Degustation menu but not on the holiday menu is chef Mizukami's Egg "Osmose" creation, a poached Peterson Farms egg with white truffle potato declinaison: confit, purée and crispy "pomme Maxim's" with pickled shallots and fresh white truffles shaved tableside. There are so many things going on with this dish that your palate will be wondering, "What's this sensation? What's that?" Your brain will just be thinking, "Yummm!" Pairing: Pio Cesare, 2011 Barolo, Piedmont.

This dish of Berkshire pork loin is also on the Grand Degustation menu but not on the holiday menu. Its essence is Vietnamese, with a crispy belly phó of pork consommé with pickled green papaya, Thai basil and aleppo pepper. The pork medallions are layered over mung bean vermicelli. Pairing: Andis, 2012 Cabernet Franc, Sierra Foothills, California.

Roasted Niman Ranch lamb loin brings a taste of India to the experience, with Pondicherry vadouvan curry, a quartet of autumn chutneys such as green apple and dates, cucumber mint raita, and basmati fried rice with toasted cumin seeds. Pairing: Domaine Faury, 2013 Cote Rotie (premium selection.

Grade 9+ Austrailian Tajima wagyu on the Grand Degustation menu is a $35 add-on on the holiday menu. It’s offered with wonderfully textured rissolée potato mochi and Japanese pepper sauce, with roasted carrot and broccolini. Pairing: Col Solare Winery, 2011 Red Mountain, Washington State (premium selection).

Hawaii Island goat cheese mousse is served with caramelized li hing mui green apple sorrel, and topped with honeycomb candy. Inquire about pairing.

Light and refreshing intermezzo on the Grand Degustation menu: honeydew melon in champagne gelée with mint.

Dessert is an either/or option on the holiday menu, but the Grand Degustation menu includes both Waialua chocolate crémeux with coffee crème, cardamom ice cream, coffee flour crumble, coconut gel and crispy quinoa; and an autumn quince declinaision with roasted, pate de coings and coulis, dulce de leche, candied almond and ginger, and Hawaiian vanilla frozen yogurt. Chocolate pairing: W. & J. Graham’s, 10-year tawny port. Quince pairing: Domainedes Bernardins, 2013 Beaumes de Venise, Rhone.

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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