Restaurant Review – Le Bistro
one thinks of romantic dining establishments on Oahu, restaurants such as La
Mer, Indigo, and Michel’s
come to mind. With their spectacular views or Balinese gardens, these
restaurants seem to be the classics of romantic dining in Honolulu.
However, Le Bistro is a
surprising bastion of romanticism tucked right into a nondescript strip
mall along Kalanianaole Highway in Niu Valley.
being seated we were greeted almost immediately by Lance, our server for
the evening. He expertly ran through a list of specials, and informed us
that the Thursday special of Roasted Long Island Duckling with Grand Mar-nier
Sauce was sold out. However, we were offered the Wednesday special of Veal
with Wild Mushrooms and Cognac Sauce.
though Le Bistro offers a full
bar with a premium well, my dinner companion and I each opted for a glass
of wine to complement our hors d’oeuvres and entrees. We started with a
glass of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay ($7.95). This was the perfect complement
to the Escargot De Bourgogne ($7.80) and the Salade of Gorgonzola, Greens
& Fresh Pears ($7.80).
have been a fan of escargot since the first time I was introduced to it
after drinking too much champagne in Paris. The snails were plump and
tender in an herb infused garlic butter brought bubbling to the table with
a crusty baguette, perfect for dunking into the pools of hot garlic butter
left behind. There is a specific flavor in Chef Takasaki’s version that
I couldn’t identify. Wanting to know the secret to this special flavor I
asked Lance if he could tell me, I was told that it was one of the
salad arrived as we were savoring the last bites of our escargot. The
salad of Gorgonzola, greens and fresh pears included a generous portion of
what appeared to be Waimanalo greens tossed in a light vinaigrette loaded
with rich Gorgonzola cheese and fresh, ripe pears. This was the perfect
palate freshener prior to the arrival of our entrees.
companion chose the full order of New Orleans Miro Street style Scallops
($18.80 full order, $15.80 petit
order). The scallops were large and skillfully sautéed without
being over- cooked, and were delicately placed in a pool of clarified
butter seasoned in Louisiana spices. The accompanying grilled vegetables
and silky smooth garlic mashed potatoes completed the simple yet
Veal with Wild Mushroom & Cognac Sauce was right out of a Parisian
bistro. The fork tender medallions of sautéed veal in a sauce of demi-glace,
richly laden with an assortment of wild mushrooms, had just the right
amount of cognac, and was finished with cream. The same grilled veggies
and mashed potatoes accompanied the veal causing me to wonder if all
dishes are served in this fashion. My Amberhill Cabernet Sauvignon ($6.95)
complemented the veal perfectly.
of the other entrée options were a trio of pastas including a Gorgonzola
Spaghettini with Slivered Almonds & Cracked Black Pepper. Another
version of Spaghettini was served with Mushrooms, Herbs and Crème as well
as a Penne with Italian Sausage, Spinach, Tomatoes, Garlic and Chili
Flakes ($13.80 for each entrée).
the grill, there are several choices. A classic French bistro Black Angus
rib eye steak is served with cognac-Roquefort butter (petit $19.80 and
regular $23.80). Lamb chops are also part of the selection glazed with
balsamic vinegar and honey. Adding a local touch is a Takohana grilled
breast of chicken served with the obligatory white rice ($12.80 petit and
$14.80 regular). Black Angus beef makes an appearance again as a version
of Yakitori ($14.80 petit and $17.80 regular) brushed with red wine sauce
and served with the same white rice.
no room left for dessert, we reluctantly ordered the Chocolate Bread
Pudding and what was described as an Apple Crisp. Upon their arrival, I
immediately recognized the apple tart as a classic Apple Tart Tartin with
thinly sliced caramelized apples topping a buttery puff pastry crust. This
was served with some of the best vanilla bean ice cream I’ve tasted. The
bread pudding, while good, wasn’t rich or chocolaty enough to please my
deep dark chocolate cravings. I just wanted MORE chocolate from this
Alan Takasaki, who was born and raised in Hawaii, has quietly created a
charming bistro in the Niu Valley Center. With its white linen
tablecloths, candlelit dining room adorned with Guy Buffet prints and
polished but friendly service, Le
Bistro is an extremely welcome addition to Oahu’s dining scene.
restaurants seem to be few and far between in Hawaii, and are mostly
stuffy starched-shirt affairs. Le
Bistro takes French food and makes it available to the masses without
sacrificing a bit of the quality or creativity. If you’re planning a
romantic interlude for Valentine’s Day, I’d recommend making your