Wolfgang’s Leads The Pack
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When it’s time to mark a milestone, America loves its beef.
The pursuit of a perfect steak is reason enough to book a table at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Waikiki. The Royal Hawaiian Center eatery, opened by famed restaurateur Wolfgang Zwiener, has been pleasing guests since it came to the Islands in 2009.
For a trio of compelling reasons, however, Wolfgang’s is a spectacular place to celebrate special occasions. Its elegant dining room, award-winning wine list, and delectable beefsteaks and seafood are ideal ingredients for an unforgettable celebration.
Oh, those steaks! As culinary legend Julia Child once asserted, “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” It’s best to skip the salad and come to this table with a big appetite, especially when ordering Tomahawk Steak ($124.95), a 32-ounce USDA Prime ribeye dry-aged for 28 days and French-trimmed by Wolfgang’s in-house butcher. Cooked to guests’ exact specifications in a 1,600-degree oven, it’s presented with bone and filet dramatically exposed.
According to general manager Bill Nickerson, the Tomahawk is a steak that kamaaina often adore. “Fat gives flavor to a steak, and a ribeye has higher fat content than other steaks. As I always say, if you go out to eat and look down and everybody’s eating a ribeye, it’s a table of locals,” he grins, nodding approvingly. On request, servers can cut it into pupu-sized slices to share family-style.
The closer to the bone, so it is said, the sweeter the meat. This is certainly true of the 24-ounce Bone-In Filet ($74.95). Nickerson encourages pairing this tender filet with one of the 250 cabernets on Wolfgang’s wine list. “They have high levels of tannins,” he explains. “It makes for a very nice mouth feel when you have a bite of steak and a sip of cabernet.”
Every suggested pairing from Wolfgang’s award-winning wine list perfectly marries dish to glass. An impressive visual centerpiece, its Wine Room fills the back wall of its main dining room. “You can see the inventory we have, and the labels. All the large formats are out,” says Nickerson proudly, referring to the big bottles considered ideal for the development of nuanced, complex vintages. Shafer, Château Margaux, Caymus — it’s an incredible view.
Wolfgang’s Seafood Platter For Two ($34.95) includes a 1-pound Maine chick lobster; five steamed, peeled colossal shrimp; and 5 ounces of lump blue crab meat with the restaurant’s own cocktail sauce. The recommended pairing: a bit of bubbly. “It’s great with a glass of Prosecco ($12.95); the J Vineyards Brut Rosé ($18.95); or Piper-Heidsieck Champagne ($24.95),” says Nickerson.
With enormous claws and gigantic tail, Wolfgang’s impressive 3-pound Maine Lobster ($109.95) is served with drawn butter and chives, and the recommended pairing is Martin Ray’s Sonoma County Chardonnay ($12.95 per glass).
The steak-house sides and desserts here are familiar, impeccable and enormous. Wolfgang’s decadent Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese ($16.95) is a perennial favorite. And a big slice of Junior’s Cheesecake ($9.95) ends any celebration on a sweetly delicious note.
WINE AND DINE
Wolfgang’s wine list, developed by general manager Bill Nickerson and wine program director Mike Ono, has earned the Waikiki restaurant a “Best Of” Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator for two years in a row. Presented to just over 1,000 restaurants in the U.S. — of more than 600,000 — the award honors wine programs whose lists “display excellent breadth across multiple regions and/ or signiĉant vertical depth of top wines, along with superior presentation.”
‘ MEAT’ YOUR MATCH
All of the steaks served at Wolfgang’s come from a single source: Master Purveyors in New York City, founded in 1957. Only about 3 percent of all U.S. beef is considered Prime grade by the USDA, and just half of this percent meets Master Purveyors’ own standards for excellence. When it arrives in Hawaii, the beef is dry-aged on-site and hand-cut by Wolfgang’s own butcher.
Royal Hawaiian Center, third level
2301 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki
Daily, 11 a.m.-midnight; happy hour, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.