Cassis' new Wikiwiki Menu offers up quick and delicious bargains
|FISH AND STRIPS: Cassis’ Flounder Grenobloise sits atop a handful of broccoli florettes and amid a small pool of lemon-caper sauce. photo: jimmy forrest|
I’ve decided that I’m going to avoid using words such as “affordable,” “good value” and “bargain” in this column. It’s not from a lack of expertise or interest in the matter. My wife and I worship at the altar of Costco.
Rather, I came to this conclusion after realizing that I, along with most people who are lucky enough to eat for a living, don’t pay for my food. When I put down the cash or plastic at the end of an assignment, it is with the knowledge that at the end of the month I’ll get a reimbursement check.
For every other meal I eat out, price means everything. It hovers over the table as I study the menu. It colors the restaurant’s ambiance. It even flavors the food.
As I was mulling this over in my head, I got an e-mail alerting me that the upscale downtown restaurant Cassis by Chef Mavro was offering a new lunch menu, which featured entrées priced as low as $12.
I decided that I would turn the tables a little. I’d stick to a strict budget, while my dining companions were free to order any of the restaurant’s other, pricier items. I limited my choices to Cassis’ new Wikiwiki Menu, which features a choice of soup or salad to go along with a petite entrée, all for $16.50. There are five different from which to choose. I went with the Hamakua Mushroom Risotto and a bowl of Cream of Broccoli Soup.
The soup was absolutely luxurious. It was light and airy, as if it had been whipped. Its texture and flavors were clean, subtle and consistent. In the green-hued soup floated florettes of blanched broccoli, perfectly cooked. A bit of cream in the middle added a nice, slightly sour touch.
|CASSIS BY CHEF MAVRO |
66 QUEEN ST.
lunch: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
dinner: 5 p.m.
to 11 p.m.
5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
My risotto was dark and looked a little beefy. But its cooking liquid must have been red wine, because when I bit into the rice I got an unexpected burst of fruity flavor. The sweetness worked well with the shavings of savory hard cheese and the mushrooms, which were a little beefy. The rice was nicely cooked, still a little nutty, but I got bored with the risotto about halfway through. That happens to me a lot.
My dining companions went to town, ordering the Flounder Grenobloise ($18), “Petit” Rotisserie Chicken Hulihuli Style ($22) and Steamed Island Snapper Chinatown Style ($28). They also selected Red Ceviche ($11) and Tarte Flambee ($12.50), a wafer-thin tart topped with onions, bacon, créme fraiche, coriander, thyme and Swiss cheese.
They let me have a taste: The ceviche was killer. A little citrusy, a little salty, a little hot, the cubed raw fish (ono that day) had bits of onion,
avocado, tomato and corn that were both beautiful and tasty. It would be at home at any luau.
Of the entrées, I preferred the chicken the best. It was plump, moist and flavorful, with the saltiness and smokiness penetrating the skin and the meat throughout. The garlic Kahuku creamed corn that accompanied it was sweet, smooth and perfect.
We ended the meal with ice creams, sorbets ($6 each) and a filled Malassada ($9.50). All were good. With soft drinks, tax and tip, our bill came to about $200 for four. We had a very nice time. But we weren’t paying for it.
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