Embark on a Tasty Tour of France

Columns Foodie Fare

September 23, 2012

Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Nestled in the heart of Chinatown, Brasserie Du Vin is a tranquil getaway that transports diners to a French cafe, both in its authentic fare and its comfortable, rustic environment. Executive chef Marco Elder says that the menu is designed to be accessible to diners, while taking them a little out of their comfort zone at the same time. So kick back and let Du Vin take you on a tasty tour.

To begin your foray into Du Vin’s French cuisine, start with appetizer Oysters on the Half Shell ($16.50 for a half dozen). Currently, the restaurant has mirada oysters from Penn Cove, Wash. “They have a full meatiness to them, and a light, almost grapefruit sweet finish,” Elder says.

If you’re a fan of the oysters, you can try more great fish selections for your entree with Du Vin Bouillabaisse ($20), which features fresh fish, shrimp, clams, and Penn Cove mussels in a lobster saffron broth. The dish, which is one of the restaurant’s most popular, is hearty — perfect for the oncoming fall days.

And while the fish at Du Vin is fresh and tasty, vegetarians dining at the restaurant certainly won’t go hungry. Vegetarian Risotto ($16) is a perfect medley of red bell peppers, spinach and cauliflower, sprinkled with a bit of Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. “I get a lot of people who aren’t vegetarians come in to get that, and they rave about it,” Elder says.

To finish off a great meal, Du Vin offers an ever-changing selection of decadent desserts to choose from. Last week, for example, the pastry chef whipped up several desserts, including Peach Strawberry Amaretto Tiramisu. “I sampled one earlier today, and it was tough to stop eating,” Elder says. “It is light, very refreshing, and the peaches come through nicely.”

Other desserts that were on the menu last week were Chocolate Ganache Cake and Mango Cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust. Desserts range from $7 to $9. Du Vin also sells whole cakes — a perfect addition to an in-house celebration or as takeout for an office get-together. To order a full cake, customers should call in at least 24 hours in advance.

Du Vin strives to use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, and changes its menu seasonally according to what is available. The next menu change is coming up in mid to late October. But not to worry, Du Vin devotees, the restaurant’s signature items will remain and will be joined by a couple of revised entrees, as well as a new cheese selection.

With the holidays approaching, Du Vin is the perfect place to host your holiday get-together. Tucked away behind the back patio, the Cask Room, with its cozy, rustic Parisian feel, is ideal for private parties. The room can be rented out — with no room fee — for sit-down dinner parties or stand-up cocktail receptions. It can hold up to 26 guests for a sit-down dinner, and about 36 guests for cocktails. Each type of party entails set menu options, or people can work with Elder to design their own. Holiday party planners are already starting to reserve the space, so reservations should be made as soon as possible. To book your party, call 545.1115 or email events@brasserieduvin.com.

On the Side

Brasserie Du Vin executive chef Marco Elder has been cooking since he can remember. By age 4, he already was serving up pancakes and eggs for his family.

“People would be surprised, and a little nervous, seeing me push a stool up against the stove,” Elder recalls.

These days, diners simply are excited to know that Elder is at the stove — it means that they are in for creative, tasty cuisine. He began working in the restaurant industry as a teenager in Maine before attending culinary school in Colorado. After honing his skills on the Mainland for several years, Elder moved to the Islands and started at Du Vin as the sous chef more than a year ago before taking the helm as executive chef.

Du Vin, which recently celebrated its sixth anniversary, started out as a wine bar, but it has slowly progressed into a thriving restaurant with a versatile menu that includes appetizers, lunch, dinner and desserts — as well as an impressive wine selection.

Du Vin and Elder have a strong commitment to utilizing fresh, local ingredients. Du Vin features produce from Nalo Farms, vine-ripened tomatoes from Kauai, Manoa honey and local fish. It also is set to partner with Naked Cow Diary for a new cheese selection, which will launch next month.

“One of the things that is really key for me is the fact that I can actually go down to the farm,” Elder says, explaining why he uses local ingredients. “I can touch the animals, and I can see where the product is coming from. I can see how they are treating it at each step of the process.

“It’s really about doing something properly — having some good food, good cuts of meat, starting with good ingredients,” Elder says. “We like to showcase the natural flavors of the food whenever possible.”

Brasserie Du Vin

1115 Bethel St., Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dinner: 4 p.m. to closing
Closed Sundays

Honolulu, HI 96817

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best