Taste What All the Buzz is About
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Duck in from the bustle of Honolulu and tuck into French and Mediterranean flavors at Brasserie Du Vin, even if you only have a half hour. While the bistro’s menu is wine-friendly, a glass is not necessary come lunch time. Executive chef Marco Elder’s dishes provide ample comfort and enjoyment. Having started cooking at 4 years old when he stood on a little stool next to his mother in the kitchen, Elder pours his joy and passion for food into his creations.
One such dish he’s excited to present is Bay Scallop Pepper and Corn Risotto with Saffron Broth ($20). “I’m throwing out this secret special just for the readers,” Elder says. “I want to make them feel special here.” Just ask for the off-the-menu special; it will be available through the end of November for Dining Out readers in the know. The special is a playful riff off classic risotto. If you’re curious about what a risotto is doing in a French brasserie, Elder explains, “the south east part of France has a lot of crossover foods with Italy, and the French and the Spanish have used Arborio rice for a long time.”
What flavors can be expected from the dish that can warm your day? Elder tells you. He loves talking about food, flourishing his sentences with sweeping hand gestures. “Sweeter flavors with a creamy finish,” Elder says of the dish’s essence. And what’s the texture like? “A lot of little pops in the mouth, because the scallops when you bite into them are going to pop; the (Kahuku) corn is going to do the same thing.”
It’s the sweetness in the vibrant dish that, for Elder, buoys the saffron up. “Sometimes when it’s too savory the saffron gets lost,” he says. The earthy aroma of saffron is carried through each bite; its lingering presence comes with the ability to magically transport. “Every time I cook with saffron,” says the Peruvian native, “I can close my eyes and I’m a little 10 year old running around.”
Elder uses a similar flavor profile in another dish, Baked Scallops on the Half Shell ($13), an appetizer that begs to be shared. “Scallops and corn work magnificently together. It’s the sweet notes that both of them have,” says Elder. What also works well in the appetizer is the roasted red pepper aioli and pecan wood-smoked bacon. Add a spritz of fresh lemon juice, scoop out the tender scallop with a fork and “whatever’s left over is great for a little bit of baguette,” the chef suggests.
Elder’s care and attention to detail is also evident in Shrimp Caesar Salad ($14.50) where pink Kauai prawns pop out against green Kula romaine. “They are some of the sweetest prawns, and they are so fresh,” says Elder. “The lettuce itself is some of the best lettuce I’ve had in my life. The water content is high and the flavor is high, too.” Although farmed, the prawns are fed a natural marine diet, “so you’d get more from what you’re accustomed to with a wild prawn, which should be really nice and sweet,” Elder says. For those who don’t like the “straight forward anchoviness” that most Caesars have, Elder uses the pungency of blue cheese in the house-made dressing to temper and subdue the punch of anchovy.
Brasserie Du Vin
1115 Bethel St., Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Dinner: 4 p.m.-closing
Happy Hour: 4-6 p.m. Closed on Sundays