Where French Fare Meets Local Flair
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If you’ve explored the nifty restaurant scene downtown, I’m sure you’ve already fallen madly in love with the rustic charm of Brasserie Du Vin. Its enchanting personality — visible in such details as a vintage upright piano nestled against the back wall or its cozy, tucked away lanai — is so reminiscent of eateries in Europe that dining at the Bethel Street spot is more like taking a mini vacation.
Much of Du Vin’s French-inspired menu bears a local twist, thanks to executive chef Marco Elder, who uses traditional French preparations as a starting point to spawn innovative and utterly devourable creations.
His talent is especially evident when it comes to seafood, and the current menu boasts a number of vibrant dishes perfect for a spring dining escape.
Baked Scallops on the Half Shell ($12), which features plump farm-raised scallops, is an amazing starter. Each scrumptious bite is dressed up in roasted pepper aioli and bits of pecan wood-smoked bacon. A sweet touch of Kahuku corn and sprinkle of Parmesan cheese round out the impactful flavors.
“It’s lightly baked in the oven to where the scallops are still tender, so you get all the nice juices to soak up with the bread,” explains Elder.
The brasserie’s Grilled Shrimp Salad ($16) is a staple lunch item prepared with poached pears, avocado, pecan wood-smoked bacon, blue cheese crumbles and grilled tiger shrimp on a bed of Ma’o Farms sassy greens. The salad does bring attitude with its grape vinaigrette, creatively made by blending fresh grape juice with whole grain mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil and a special white balsamic vinegar. “Its a very nice light, refreshing dish, but very filling” adds Elder.
In keeping with the French tradition of maximizing local ingredients, Elder uses fresh Hawaii produce to enliven dishes whenever possible.
“A lot of it is based on certain availability of ingredients,” the chef says. “Like in our Fish Du Jour (Fish of the day; market price), we’re using tatsoi, which is traditionally a very Asian ingredient. But since we can get it nice and local, it’s something I wanted to incorporate into this dish.”
Elder combines the tatsoi with baby carrots and local cherry tomatoes to accompany a moist filet of opah belly, which is sauteed in his tumeric beurre blanc (white butter sauce), lending an earthy feel and gorgeous golden color to the dish. House-made lilikoi creme fraiche (French-style sour cream) tops off this exquisite combination of flavors.
“I’d rather bring something in that’s fresh, local and give it a little twist,” says Elder of his unscripted approach to cooking. “Then local people can really relate to it as well.”
Brasserie Du Vin
1115 Bethel St., Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., lunch 4-10 p.m., dinner