Posts Tagged ‘manifest

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.

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02
Sep
10

Impressions of Off-Menu at Managers’ Dinner

So as I am eternally backlogged with recaps, reviews (which I still have yet to get back to), and other write-ups this post is delayed by a month. Anyway, I was fortunate as a HGC member to be invited to Off-Menu’s annual managers’ dinner in late July. Off-Menu is a new, hip, and edgy catering company located here in Honolulu. More info on them can be found here.

I'll be honest my food pics didn't come out because I was eating when dinner was served and well, kept on eating. I promise food pics at the next event!

As with what I said in an earlier post about Shogunai Tacos, I am always fascinated with new start-ups and people who bring creativity (especially, through food) to the islands. The reason I think Off-Menu will be good is they have a lot of fun and new ideas. The talent they have on hand is quite smart and energetic. These people are professionals that love food!

The staff getting ready for the evening after coming in early to set up the tent.

Managers’ Dinner Means Managers Make Some Mean Food

So at the this launch party all the food was cooked by the management, and not their actual chefs. However, the food in itself was quite tasty; like I said they love food and you can certainly taste it. The appetizers were arranged artfully and  The meats for me were salted and seasoned just enough that your mouth watered for one more nibblet. The meal in the outdoor, relaxed setting was finely ended with a good brew of coffee and a candy bar (like a salad bar, not an actually bar of candy) that made you feel like a kid after a family bbq.

So that same love of food is going into managing the company and they have some big plans on how they are going to serve up their catering and make it “lucky you live Hawaii.”

Service that is Full

The managers’ dinner also serves for them to fine tune their service and how they conduct themselves. Basically, they always are striving to provide a level of service that demonstrates care. I always had a full wine glass by my server’s hand even though they had a beverage bar. It’s a company that strives to do better rather than just be satisfied with the same old thing that a lot of Hawaii companies suffer from.

Elegant, but a casual affair.

The New “Black” Will Be What is Off the Menu

They indicated they really want to run a tight ship that brings you off premise events that are off the hook. Added to that fact that they sign chefs to provide unique menus that are not necessarily found in their restaurants, Off-Menu really wants to live up to their name. In addition, I’m told they themselves want to host special dining parties that will have exclusive and innovative menus designed by their chefs held in unique locales other than your normal brick-and-mortar restaurant. Basically, think outside the box.

The venue's view was gorgeous.

Location, Location

Speaking of locales the spectacular view by the managers’ dinner party is not one of their typical venues, but I am told that they have other really beautiful venues, such as the famous Oasis World Estates for their normal catering, and in fact have held several weddings at these venues. Off-Menu can certainly do the traditional wedding and event coordination, but that is just one part of the whole deal.

So in my opinion even though this was just for the company if Off-Menu goes off the beaten path as they plan, they will certainly be serving some unique ideas and how we experience our food. Looking forward to their first Underground Dining at Manifest later this month. Update you all on that with real food pics.




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