Never would I have expected to have such lovely French bistro food in the land of pineapples and papayas, but that’s exactly what I found at Du Vin, in downtown Honolulu.
I almost missed the chance, too. When I travel, I like to eat local, what the locals eat, and most often, that’s the regional cuisine of the area.
But what do local foodies do when they’ve had their fill of their own cuisine? They explore other global flavors. Our host foodies wanted to take us to Du Vin. I protested because I wanted to eat something more Hawaiian, not Parisian, for goodness sakes.
When we found ourselves downtown one evening, we strolled by the little French brasserie, a narrow, dark space on Bethel Street. Past the dark lounge, way in the back is an open courtyard, even more narrow than the main room, with tables snuggled closely together. There is no way you’d know you were in Hawaii sitting in this Provencal garden. French patio chairs and tables, potted plants, antique wall hangings, and a mosaic tiled floor more than mask the Pacific Island location –they transport you to the narrow streets of Nice.
The food tastes as French as the decor looks French. We slurp a roasted tomato basil soup and devour moules & frites (pictured) — with the most plump, tender mussels swimming in a garlicky wine broth, and lots of crusty French bread, soaking up the flavorful broth. We have a piece of Hawaiian fish (amber jack tuna to be specific) that’s seared to a golden brown and bathed in an olive butter sauce, and sitting atop haricots blancs (white beans) and frisee. And finish with banana and chocolate crepes (the bananas are local)… Mon dieu! It was exquisite. And I’m really glad that I didn’t miss it, even if French cafes are not de rigueur in aloha land.