A couple weeks ago, we were invited to dine at Chef Mavro restaurant to try his Summer Menu before it disappears. I am not nearly as speedy and efficient as our friends Cat Toth (The Cat Dish) and Melissa Chang (Nonstop Honolulu) who dined at Chef Mavro the week after we did and got their posts up overnight. So, I apologize, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to try these dishes, since they will be off the menu as of this weekend.
But that’s OK—Chef George Mavrothalassitis (called Chef Mavro by everyone)—is always changing his menu (a new one every season, and other yearly specials, like his “Greatest Hits” or “Truffle Menu”) so dining at his restaurant is always a new experience anyway. Certain flavors and themes tend to come around again, and there are certain dishes that get tweaked and reappear in new configurations. (Like the famous Liliko‘i Malassadas, which will never die although Chef is tired of them, because they are just too beloved—they are reinvented periodically, however, to keep Mavo happy.)
In the interest of getting this post up on-screen so you have a marginal chance of scoring a reservation this weekend if any of this moves you, I’m going to dispense with detailed descriptions. Hover over the photo for those. (The wine pairings are listed there, too.)
This amuse bouche—Chilled Kabocha Curry Soup, Bacon Coconut Mousse, Cocoa Nibs—was pretty incredible. It was simultaneously salty, spicy, sweet and creamy.
My favorite dish of the night (and Shake’s, too) was this Abalone-Tarama appetizer. The abalone was incredibly tender and I absolutely loved the mousse that it came with (along with a serving of house-made pita bread, which was really more like Indian paratha, and a bed of cucumber tzatziki). “Tarama” is a Greek fish roe dip. I think I may have lost a bunch of you right there. Mmmm, I do love my stinky (they weren’t, really) fish eggs! And now I crave tzatziki.
This Ahi-Aleppo Pepper appetizer is a fancier version of what Chef Mavro served at the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival “Taste Our Love For the Land” event. I loved it then and was totally happy to eat another serving (this time with tons more uni sauce—so rich and brine-funky!).
Sommelier Doug Johnson did a great job of pairing all the dishes and for this one he selected a sparkling sake. I like sake a lot better when I have it with food.
The first course was Indochine-Style Poached Keahole Lobster. Chef Mavo is a lobster genius. It’s not something I generally care to eat, unlike some people who go nuts when there’s lobster at a buffet or order it when they go to a steakhouse. But I would actually choose to order lobster from Mavro—that’s saying a lot for me!
I think one of the most awesome things about dining at Chef Mavro is that not only is he actually back there in the kitchen every night, he personally comes to diners’ tables to serve the en papillote dishes.
He’s French, so there always seems to be something that’s done en papillote or in a salt-crust. (Like his famous Salt-Crust Onaga—it only comes back for a couple weeks each year during “Greatest Hits” time—which is actually going on now through Sunday—because after making 80,000 he’d like to take a break from the dish).
This time, it was squab in the little paper packets. The course was comprised of a breast en papillote, served with chipolata (a French sausage—I will take a half-dozen seared up for breakfast, please!) and a thigh on dandelion greens and a poha berry sauce.
I loved the chipolata but the breast was really too gamey for me. I like duck, but this was like duck crossed with lamb—it had a funkiness I just couldn’t get with. Shake really liked it, though.
The thigh, on the other hand, was nice and crispy and much more to my liking.
You know what else is cool about Mavro? He serves a lot of desserts. We had a cheese course that was practically dessert: Hawai‘i Island Goat Cheese (my favorite producer because they make a very non-goat-y goat cheese) Ice Cream. It was cold, dense, sweet and creamy. And came with a bit of Elizabeth’s Volcano Island Honey Candy—“Elizabeth” being Pastry Chef Elizabeth Dippong. I love honey candy.
This course also came with my favorite wine of the meal: a “Braida” Di Giacomo Bologna, 2011 Brachetto D’Acqui, Piemonte—deep pink, a bit bubbly and quite sweet.
Then we had pre-dessert: Watermelon-Mint Champagne Gelée, which is so totally not your frat bro’s Jell-o shots.
Then there was “real” dessert that was comprised of three parts: Madre Hāmākua Chocolate & Cocoa Nib Dacquoise, Urfa Biber Confit Mango, Chocolate Feuilletine, Guava Olive Oil Sorbet. My favorite was the dacquoise, which was a dark chocolate-y, fudge-y delight.
There was also a plate of mignardises (miniature desserts; and, I just learned this—they are different from petit fours which are also tiny desserts, but more specifically, hard, buttery biscuit-type things), which I did not photograph (and actually ended up letting Shake eat all of because I was just too stuffed!).
Dinner at Chef Mavro will run you $85 for the four-course tasting menu. Mavro only serves prix fixe-style; no a la carte entrées here. We were served the six-course menu ($128). There is also a “Grand Degustation,” all 11 of the available courses in tasting portions, for $175 per person. All of the options are available with wine pairings.
Disclosure: We were invited to dine at Chef Mavro by Chef and his wife, Donna, as their guests. No compensation was received for this post, and the opinions expressed are strictly my own.