Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Blue Note Hawaii

Restaurant Insider

October 2, 2022

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

ANNE LEE speaks with Blue Note Hawaii executive chef AARON LOVE III

Tucked away on the second floor of Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort is magical entertainment venue Blue Note Hawaii. The Blue Note jazz club first opened in Greenwich Village in New York City in 1981 and has expanded to nine cities across the world, including Napa, Tokyo, Rio, São Paulo, Milan, Beijing, Shanghai and Honolulu.

Decadence Dome Flourless Chocolate Cake ($18)

Known for bringing in legendary jazz musicians and world-famous musical performers, the shows are often highlighted with a distinctive cuisine that is created with the specific location in mind. Executive chef Aaron Love III joined the Blue Note Hawaii team on Valentine’s Day (with Love as his last name, this was meant to be) — and has been doing just that. The new menu items he’s brought to the table blend a bit of his roots, with Southern flair and a lot of aloha.

I had a chance to meet with this talented chef and try some of his new dishes (the Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins are to die for) and learn more about his culinary background. After tasting his food, I know that when you come to Blue Note Hawaii for a legendary show, you will have that unique dining experience to match that.

Cajun Shrimp and Cheese Grits ($20)

ANNE: What is your style of cooking and what changes have you made to the menu? AARON: Due to the pandemic, we were not in operation for a long time. When we were able to reopen, we did so with a limited menu because travel was still restricted (we serve as a venue for our local entertainers and comedians). The first thing I tackled was the menu and I wanted to offer the basics. I made the change because it was very big and too challenging to execute. Also, our kitchen wasn’t equipped to handle that large of a menu at a high level, so we redid the entire kitchen with new equipment as well as changed the layout. We kept some signature items such as the Braised Short Ribs (the presentation is a bit different) and the Kauai Shrimp, which is a bit reinvented as well. We have had nothing but positive feedback from our guests about new the menu.

There’s new Southern cuisine, featuring a refined, more sophisticated version of classic Southern dishes. It’s something that is familiar when a guest comes to dine. It’s familiar comfort food, but when it’s brought out to the table, they are always in awe.

ANNE: What did you prepare for us today?

AARON: I wanted to have a wide range of items for people to choose from, including vegan/vegetarian and meat options, but really I wanted a tie-in to real Southern flair. I feel there has to be some form of a chicken dish on the menu. The Roasted Provencal Herb Half Chicken ($36) is seasoned and roasted with herbs de provence, then brined with a herb citrus for 48 hours before roasting it. It’s served with herb gravy, garlic mushroom quinoa and a side of lemon asparagus.

My favorite addition to the menu is Molokai Sweet Potato Purple Gnocchi ($34) that’s served with coconut lime miso cream sauce. I searched for something that was significant to the islands, and with each bite, they will remember being here at Blue Note Hawaii. Most people are familiar with what gnocchi is, but it’s usually not purple or from Molokai.

Loaded Hummus ($22)

The Loaded Hummus ($22) is can be a meal or for sharing. It has elements of what’s familiar here in Hawaii, like sweet potato and taro chips. The hummus has a North African/Mediterranean taste flavored with harissa, which gives a bit of spice. I wanted to highlight the vegetables with lemon and it’s infused with extra-virgin olive oil, antipasto olives, chick peas, heirloom tomatoes and feta. It’s served with the chips.

Our signature Cajun Shrimp and Cheese Grits ($20) is the one dish that guests have come to know us by. Its very Southern. In Southern cooking, knowing how to cook grits is mandatory. These grits have a bit of heat and are cheesy and creamy. The feedback from our guests familiar with this dish is always positive. It’s also served with a homemade Jalapeño Cornbread Muffin and is topped with local honey.

The dessert options are a unique collaboration with Cake Works. The Decadence Dome Flourless Chocolate Cake ($18) is pretty unique. If you want more of a fudge texture, I suggest you eat it right away, but if you prefer more of a cake-like texture, let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.

Roasted Provencal Herb Half Chicken ($36)

ANNE: Anything else you want to share?

AARON: One other thing that is new with Blue Note Hawaii is our private events and group reservations for holiday parties. Guests can reserve tables (or even an entire section of our showroom) for parties of 10 or more.

We just announced some fun holiday packages that include an open bar. We also frequently hold private events (daytime and evening). With the changes implemented in the new menu, I do see local faces come in to see shows three to four times a month now. The quality and consistency of the food is important for us to execute, not only for our visitors but also for our local community.

We offer validated parking in the OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger on Kuhio Avenue for $6 up to four hours, and valet parking at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort for $15 for up to four hours.

Upcoming Shows

Al Di Meola (Oct. 6-7)

Take Me Back To Chicago Tour (Oct. 8-9)

Rita Rudner (Oct. 11-12)

Billy Ocean (Oct. 13-14 and 16-17)

Kealii Reichel (Nov. 17-20)

Anuhea & Friends (Nov. 25-27)

Dionne Warwick (Dec. 1-4)

Henry Kapono: The Songs of C&K (Dec. 7-8)

Holiday Brunch with Frank De Lima (Dec. 11)

Hookena for the Holidays (Dec. 11)

Commodores (Dec. 15-17)

The Green (Dec. 27-Jan. 1)

1. Decadence Dome Flourless Chocolate Cake ($18)

2. Cajun Shrimp and Cheese Grits ($20)

3. Loaded Hummus ($22)

4. Roasted Provencal Herb Half Chicken ($36)

Honolulu, HI 96815

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best