Say ‘oui’ to French flavorsCover Story Features
July 22, 2019
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
As those who pay close attention to the local restaurant scene are well aware, this is a marvelous time to be a culinary adventurer in Honolulu. With that, there is a new restaurant in town that will have diners saying “oui,” or yes, to all it has to offer.
In just days, our fair and fortunate city will gain a modern French restaurant run by a team of local legends that includes general manager Dusty Grable (Lucky Belly, Livestock Tavern), executive chef Shaymus Alwin (Azure at the Royal Hawaiian), and chef de cuisine Patrick Collins (Senia). On Aug. 1, GLION Hawaii, the hospitality group that owns and operates the iconic Hy’s Steak House in Waikiki, will proudly open the doors of La Vie — “The Life,” translated from French language.
Located on the eighth floor of The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach La Vie offers an intriguing new concept in prix fixe dining. Guests will be presented with a single menu printed with more than a dozen courses, including a few desserts. They’ll be invited to choose any three courses they like for $79, any four courses for $99, or any five for $119. Dishes are portioned according to the number of courses ordered.
“The style of menu and hospitality will be unlike anything we’ve attempted before,” says Grable. “I’ve wanted to create a restaurant and menu like this for years now, and with the support, passion and talent of this team, we can do it.”
“Every day we’ll be sneaking in little extra touches that aren’t on the menu,” confides executive chef Alwin. “It’ll be exciting for the guest and the team. I really think this is a unique concept that everyone is going to enjoy.”
Designed by chef de cuisine Collins, the menu is a thoughtfully curated modern collection of plates and dishes whose foundation is unmistakably classic French. It begins with American Caviar & Kona Abalone, Lobster Remoulade, and Tartare of Niihau Eland.
Found on the “forbidden island” of Niihau, the eland (an antelope) is prepared with ras al hanout, a North African blend of a dozen spices, including cumin, cardamom, and turmeric. “We decided to use flavors similar to a tagine, for a little nod to French colonialism,” Collins says.
Next comes the Escargot Dumpling (favorite of both Alwin and Grable), followed by Roasted Maine Scallops, Dayboat Snapper, and King Salmon Parisienne. A pair of proteins finishes the savory choices: American Wagyu Steak, with pommes Aligot, Maui onion, and beef tongue Bordelaise, and 21 Day Aged Duck Breast, prepared in classic style with lentils de puy, endive, and orange.
“The duck has the perfect combination of flavors, textures and temperatures,” remarks Grable. “The time and care put into dishes like this one will be appreciated by all.”
At the menu’s end is a trio of desserts that might tempt one to ignore the savory dishes printed above them. Made with Waialua chocolate and exotic tonka beans, the Souffle is most intriguing, as is the Gateau Savarin, which Collins describes as “sort of like a large format of a babarhum.” The Sweet Potato Mont Blanc, made with Okinawan sweet potatoes and toasted coconut instead of traditional chestnuts and whipped cream, is finished in classic French style with blackberries and cassis.
In a gorgeous dining room with a seemingly endless ocean view, and a menu that might have been created in Heaven’s own kitchen, locals will easily find serenity for a few sweet hours.
Elegant music, tea are both sure to please
With a laser-sharp focus on creating perfect ambiance, The Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton presents live piano music each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Located adjacent to La Vie on the Ewa Tower’s eighth floor, The Lounge is an ideal spot for listening to a rotating pool of pianists that includes Ethan Capone, Grant Carvalho, Tim Kallen, Ginny Tiu and Noly Paa. “Every evening you can enjoy live music and a lovely sunset, followed by Waikiki’s night skyscape,” says director of sales and marketing Marcus Ito. “We wanted to make it a memorable experience.”
Daily tea at the Lounge, 1-3 p.m., others a repast that even a queen would adore, with pastries, sweets and savory treats all made in-house. Enjoy tea sandwiches, scones, ˝ nanciers, cookies, tartlets and tea from a list that includes rooibos citrus, melange anglais, and rosemary and lemon, steeped tableside for exquisite flavor at $55 per person. Add-ons for an extra charge include artisanal cheese and charcuterie platters, caviar, and champagnes and sparkling wines.