Posts Tagged ‘Oasis World Estates

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:

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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