Posts Tagged ‘Le Guignol

30
Mar
11

Off-Menu’s Off-Premise: The Great Gatsby in the Roaring 20’s

Decadence, elegance, and roaring good time

*Apologies to Off-Menu and Chef Travis “Ala” Sutton as well as my dining companion bloggers, as I am really late with this one.  Keeping in the theme of my blog, “One More Plate” I certainly have been juggling a lot of plates lately, but finally here is my write-up of the fourth Off-Premise by Off-Menu.

The Setting

The sun is setting and I’m waiting in front of the Aina Haina library for a van to shuttle me off to the next Off-Premise event by Off-Menu.  I’m hoping it will arrive soon as the library patrons are looking at me strange.  It may have to do with the fact that it is about eighty degrees and I’m wearing a black fedora, a vest, pin-striped pants, a black dress shirt, and a white tie.  Why?  Well, this Off-Premise is a 1920s party and Off-Menu did not hold any of the punches.

Check-in and the beads for the game of the night.

My shuttle van arrives and quickly spirits me away from puzzle onlookers.  The van ride is short, as the property for this Off-Premise is the nearby Oasis World Estates.  To say this place was gorgeous would be an understatement.  Off-Menu chose the perfect place to have a 1920s party with the name The Great Gatsby.  If there was a lavish party described in the book set in Hawaii, it would be that place.  The evening played out like one of those extravagant parties minus the tragic ending.  In fact, the only tragedy was the night ended.  However, I think I should start at the beginning.

The property as the sun sets.

The van dropped me off, the driveway is tiny, and two solid doors hide the splendor of the property.  When the entrance is open up you see a sleek hallway of bamboo and stone that opens up to a blue as blue can be pool and Jacuzzi, a yard overlooking the ocean, and all this surrounded by a rich, but comfortable beachfront property.

It was definitely a fun party with many of the attendees dressing up for the ocassion.

Check-in is fast as you are greeted by a pretty host and given beads.  Beads?  Yes, these Mardi Gras-like beads are the night’s game:  in a simple match of jan-ken-po your goal is to beat staff and guest a-like to collect the most beads.  It’s a nice ice breaker and makes the hats, vests, suits, and suspenders even more festive.

The preparation of the crostinis to go with our martinis!

The cocktail hour is perfect, a feast for your eyes with a tour of the house, as they whet your appetite with foie gras and duck or crab salad on crostinis with free classic martinis.  The weather is cooperating, not too hot, as a nice breeze blows in off from the waves.  Tonight’s dinner is once again being done by Chef Travis “Ala” Sutton of Le Guignol.  It is amazing that he, as the first chef of Off-Premise, has grown along with the catering company.  The experimenting with food is at a higher level, and the décor and service have definitely kicked up a notch.  Both seem like pros at this type of events, even though this is Chef Ala’s second one and this is only Off-Menu’s fourth (and remember each venue is different).

The table setting was pitch perfect with the food and house.

The Dinner

I think Off-Menu and Ala have definitely kicked up the Off-Premise events with this one.  While, it is true this one was a little less street, like Chef Sean’s, this one was classy and elegant, with a hidden air of fun by it being on a private beach property.  That was the case with the food.   Heck, even with the menu, as our entrees were spelled out on pearl vellum.  Fancy.

The name plates and the pearl vellum menus just shows the attention to detail by Off-Menu.

So what did we start out with?  Braised Artichokes with a Sherry Gastrique, Goat Cheese and Almonds, sitting abed Curried Quinoa, Cucumber and Mint Salad with Ho Farms’ Tomato Oil and Lemon Juice.  Sounds heavy?  Well, it wasn’t, it was a great starter (added to the two crostinis and martini I had beforehand during cocktail hour).  The artichoke was full of flavor and with the goat cheese it was perfect by itself, but the curried quinoa only added to the whole dish.  You got a whole bunch of flavors of sweet, salty, smoky, savory, and umami . . . actually, as I am late writing this my stomach is getting hungry thinking of the artichoke mixing with the goat cheese a few crumbles of curried quinoa.  I digress, the only problem I had is that may be the richness of the bases, like the sherry gastrique, tomato oil, and mint salad might have gotten lost with the goat cheese, curry, and artichoke.  Overall, it was nice way to warm-up.

The artichoke with goat cheese and curried quinoa, whet my appetite.

Ok, if you have been reading my blog then you know that I am allergic to seafood.  So I missed out on the Chilled Lobster Cappuccino and Lightly Grilled Lobster Tail with Frisee Lettuce, Fresh Tarragon and Sauce Maltese.  I also thought I might have lucked out again when a plate of salmon.  I also don’t care for salmon.  However, let me say this Chef Ala prepared it well to my liking.  It was juicy and tender, and the fruit sauce complimented the fish well.  I ate the whole thing, and don’t regret it.  I thank Chef Ala and Off-Menu for allowing the substitution, as I know how hard it is at these dinner parties to keep costs down while changing things out.  My only thing is that the sauce could have stood out more, but it might have interfered with the cooking of the salmon.  So I am undecided if it was meant to accent the fish or make me taste the fish in a new way.

My salmon.

The main course of the night, made me wish I could have seconds or that I could take one of my dinner companion’s plate and run off with it.  The main course was Chicken Fried Veal Cheek and Veal Tenderloin.  Veal twice?  Yes, please . . . like I said if I could have stolen a second plate and made it veal times four I would have.  Crunchy and then soft veal cheek on-top of a tender tenderloin?  I don’t know how to describe how the chicken fried style just really kept the juiciness and tenderness in the cheek, but gave it this kind of southern crunch to it all.  It was salty, meaty, crunchy, but soft.  It was just delightful.

The cheek that made my cheeks flush.

Oh wait, did I say that was the last?  Then there was dessert.  What was it?  It was just Chocolate Soufflé and Cheesecake Ice Cream.  Yeah, just warm decadence in a cup with creamy icy goodness.  You know when you have that oozy, thick chocolate that can only be washed down with a nice milky cool chaser?  Yeah, this was that.   The only thing that could top this was alcoholic whip cream . . . oh wait, we did do that, as one of my dinner companions had brought two cans of that.

Sir, can I have some more, please?

I daresay that the night was perfect and met the tenets of what I want for the Honolulu Grub Club.  Food, friends, and fun were all there in spades.  It is just sad that Off-Menu cannot help make my life like that everyday, but then again if they did would I not become childish in my greed and selfishness, thus ruining the dream like that of the Great Gatsby.  My dream would be dead, so sometimes, perfect should be fleeting, like a dream.  Thank you Chef Ala and Off-Menu.

The glow of the evening.

Last Words

Don’t take my untimely write-up as a sign that this was not fun.  In fact, this was probably the best Off-Premise so far, in terms of class and ambiance.  It isn’t to say that the underground is bad, but for my personal taste being whisked to a private estate is a breath of fresh air, similar to the selected Chef’s cooking.

Chef “Ala” is certainly doing new things and I would recommend a visit to Le Guignol, as his style is brought out by dishes desserts like the cracked pepper cake with a blue cheese ice cream with local honey.  Believe me, I was skepetical at first, but it was delicious.  I find that he has a modern elegance when playing with composition of his dishes, it is a mix of class and fun.  Thus it was appropriate for the selected venue and theme provided by Off-Menu.

Thank you to Off-Menu, Chef “Ala”, my friend/photographer for the photos, and Oasis Estates for a delightful and memorable evening.  Cheers to all of them for their hard work and I hear the next one is going to be just as fantastic, but possibly a whole lot greener . . . . Until the next plate!

For other opinions about this evening, that were more timely than me, check out these sites:

01
Oct
10

Off-Menu’s Off-Premise Underground Dinner, First

Whoever put the Off-Menu sign under the lips picture, very clever.

This past Monday (09/27) the Honolulu Grub Club was graciously invited by Off-Menu to their first “Off-Premise” Underground Dinner. The dinner was hosted at Manifest. The food prepared by Chef Travis “Ala” Sutton of Le Guignol.

As I have written about underground dining before, I would say this experience was slightly different. It felt like a good night out at a club, but had the intimacy and friendship of a private dinner. It gave me a reason to get dressed up for fun on boring, muggy, and hot Monday and to relax with friends, old and new, in a fun locale and eat some good food.

I cannot really comment about the other underground food projects on here on Oahu, as I’ve never been to one, but it seems that Off-Menu is going off the beaten path of being elite. While, the food is important, as they want foodies to come, it is also about the event itself. They are making the event fun, the food approachable, and the guests a friendly, eclectic bunch. Makes sense given that it is a hip catering company that does weddings, charities, etc . . . . It’s food and fun for everyone.

Having a dinner party and a bar is very cool.

Hosting the dinner at Manifest was definitely a cool move. It’s always a nice feeling when the bar is yours and you freely can get a cocktail and chat with person without yelling at them to just say “hi.” Added to that fact the cocktail is not the main event, but a relaxer.

Pooh am I?

Another way to relax, especially amidst strangers, is to play games! It was great on Off-Menu’s part to incorporate some easy icebreaking games for its guests to meet and greet each other. We played the “Who Am I?” game where guests try to determine the name of the famous person taped to their back by asking other patrons a simple yes-no question. I was Cat Kora (I only wish I could cook like her or be as organized). I really enjoyed talking to the other guests as they were all friendly, and the fun of figuring out who you are seemed to overcome any awkwardness of meeting a stranger for the first time.

The table setting was cute with the paper bags serving as menu and a take away treat of cookies.

After the game was concluded we sat down for dinner. We had a five course meal for the evening that was prepped by the Chef right there.

Each bag had the name of the guest, the menu, and all of it hand-written.

The first dish, the salad of prosciutto, raspberries, arugula, etc . . . . was decent. Oh before I get too critical (esp. if Chef Ala’s wonderful wife, who sat next to me, is reading this) I applaud Chef for trying to be creative and presenting new things to people’s palettes. I always admire those who have the confidence to step out and try something new, but what I appreciate is the ability for people to take criticism of their new invention and improve upon it. I’m glad that Chef Sutton made, such a speech before we began.

You know, as Chef was plating the dinner I couldn't help, but think he also looked like a DJ esp. because of the black plates, the table, and the setting. He was our DJ Chef spinning/serving plates of goodness.

But enough of that, let me get back to the first dish. I appreciated the different textures of the salad, my problem was mainly with the strength of taste: the prosciutto overwhelmed everything and things as tart or bitter as raspberries or arugula just did not seemed to sing out. However, I’d say this dish would work if somehow the flavors of each ingredient could be enhanced.

The salad starter.

The next up was lobster tail. I’m allergic to shellfish, but in the name of food (and justice . . . and my stomach!) I gave it a go. I liked it, but I thought that the onion soup sauce didn’t stick to the lobster that well. I think it would be nice to plate it with the sauce dripping over it. But then again what do I know, I bust out in hives and an itchy throat if I eat too much of this stuff.

The third was my favorite. It was veal sweetbreads, the barbecue sauce made it feel American (well as American as barbeque can be, as it came from Caribbean . . . then again immigrating and importing is American, so never mind). Anyway, the veal was good, tender, and very moist. I just wish the chocolate was a little bit more out front. I could only get a hint of it as the barbeque sauce kind of overwhelmed it.  I liked the celery remoulade, but I don’t know if I would pair it with the sweet breads. You know, I think I need another try at it to see how I really feel . . . no, seriously, I want it again to make a determination. Free sweet breads please! Just kidding.

You should have been there for the smell as these babies were cooking.

The fourth to me was a lot of fun, even though once again I don’t eat too much seafood. I like salty, and this was it. The steamed mussels were cooked right, and not tough of chewy and have a good salty flavor to them. Added to that the duck fat fries with fleur de sel just sang to me. I was in salty heaven. It was like the Dead Sea visited my mouth with nice rich flavors.

Salty bowls of goodness.

You know, I just can’t seem to get away from cheesecake . . . . After August’s Cheesecake Competition I thought I was done with the dessert. Oh well, at least from my sake it was a mousse rather than an actual cheesecake. It also wasn’t as dense (which is why I tend to dislike cheesecake), nor as creamy. Very fun, and it felt like having an adult pudding cup to end a dinner with big kids you met at a bar.

A sweet ending to a sweet night.

All in all Off-Menu is off to a fun start and I hope to see more. I hear the next event, tentatively scheduled for November may be a “movie-style” night and I can’t wait to have dinner theatre with old and new friends.




Refrigeraider

Raiding one refrigerator at a time!

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