(9th and Waialae)

Cindy, 9. May 2005, 23:23

After a very flattering review in the weekly last week and a fair amount of advance buzz, my friend and I tried this place out.

I have to say, having grown up in the area, it was weird to be sitting in this urban-hip stainless steel tabletop and industrial-minimalist-chic little cafe. Although there have been lots of better restaurants popping up on Waialae in recent years, I don’t think any have been this ambitious.

There is quite a lot of diverse and global culinary influences evident in the menu, and they make a point of using local produce (organic when possible) as well as free-range meat, etc.

My friend had deep-fried salt cod dumpling things that were golden racquetball sized spheres coated in panko. The fish was mixed with potatoes giving them a consistency like croquettes. She ordered them because the cod dumplings reminded her of her childhood in Jamaica, and she liked them a lot.

I had a simple green salad (mesclun and some goat cheese with bits of pancetta in a simple balsamic vinagrette). It was clean, sharp and balanced.

My friend ordered a pan-fried porkchop with fennel salad ($16) while I opted for mahi with spring vegetables in a butter and caperberry sauce ($19). Both were very nicely plated, though I was a little sad that my friend’s porkchop took up half the plate while my mahi looked half the size and costed three dollars more . It was perched on a bunch of largish vegetables though (asparagus spears, carrots that were yellow(?) and kind of bigger, but not the big hard kind (teen carrots?), etc. I had no clue about the caperberries until I recalled watching Bridget cook dinner in “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”

We split a buttermilk pana cotta for dessert, which was sort of like a cream-cheese-ish jello-mold.

This place is on the pricey side and the crowd was definitely of the well-heeled persuasion, but it had a nice vibe. I think it’s comparable to 12th Avenue Grill, and definitely worth checking out. It’s kitty-corner to Champa Thai across the street from the open market, and has some parking in a lot in the rear. They serve breakfast and lunch.

This weekend, I also went to Town on the corner of Waialae and 9th Avenues. I really enjoyed my meal there and definitely want to go again. They also do not have a very large menu, but what was there seemed to all be really, really good. Prices were reasonable, too. I think the most expensive entree was the strip steak ($22).

Starters: I had their Ma’o salad (organic greens, pine nuts, grape tomatos, etc.), which was good. My friend tried their avacado and mango salad over butter greens. That salad was good, too. It came with a green goddess dressing which was like an herbal ranch dressing. It was quite good. We also had flat bread grilled with mozzarella, halved grape tomatos, kalamata olives, herbs and olive oil on top. Ono!

Main courses: I had chicken that was brined for 24-hours then seasoned and pan seared. It came with grapes and torn bread. That torn bread thing was awesome! I think it had the pan drippings from the chicken on it, and then finished in the oven or broiler. A friend had the oxtail risotto, which came with two braised oxtails. It had small pieces of boiled peanuts in the risotto. It was very tasty. Two other friends got the cavatelli (curled pasta with ridges) in a bolognese sauce(hearty tomato-based meat sauce).

Dessert: the buttermilk panna cotta was the clear winner. It came with this viscous citrous sauce that looked like honey, but wasn’t. It was terrific! We also tried the apple-crazin crumble (ginger in the crumble was a nice touch) and the grapefruit-campari sorbet (very tart and refreshing on the palate).

Thanks for the reviews, Pen. I was curious about that oxtail dish. Was it similiar to an osso buco? Did it come with a sauce/gravy, and, if so, what was that like?

Reid, the oxtail dish did not really have a sauce. While the oxtails themselves were braised, they are placed on the risotto, which was creamy, but not soupy.

Reid Jan 2006
Like others, I thought the food was quite good here. The entres are all around $20. I thought the portions were a bit small, but sufficient (if you’re…well, if I’m not that hungry).

Larri got the same salad that Penny mentioned with the green goddess salad. It came with avocados, papayas, and I can’t remember what else. This was OK.

We also got the mussels, which came in a zesty broth. Not as good as the first time we tried this, but still solid.

I wish I remembered Penny’s review. I would have tried the torn bread with chicken. Instead I got this pasta dish with a beef stew like sauce. I think it was called papardelle with pork sugo ($15). The pasta was like flat sheets cut in to rectangles.

Larri got a risotto with mushrooms and sausage ($17). The sausage had a light smokey taste and came in a light creamy type of sauce. This was also good.

We tried a bunch of different dishes for dessert: chocolate almond torte, panna cotta and vanilla gelato. The desserts were just OK. I didn’t care for the panna cotta as much as Penny did. It sort of was like a haupia with a cheesecake taste.

Reid, Sept 2006
I really enjoyed the apple-fried caper–risotto and salmon ($19) at Town. Once again the portions were on the small side, but this was well done, particuarly the risotto. The apple gave a hint of sweet and tartness to the extent that you may not know there were apples in it. That plus the capers just made for a nice dish.

Penny’s rib-eye ($23) was also solid.

This is not a place to go if you’re (I’m) super hungry, but the cooks know what they’re doing.

Reid, Oct 2006
Larri and I went to Town again.

I ordered the white risotto with Hamakua mushrooms and asparagus ($18). This was really good! I thought I detected a kind of grilled, smokey, kiawe taste to the asapargus, but when I mentioned this to the waitress, she thought it might of been truffle (probably a nice way of saying we don’t have a wood burning grill you idiot).

Larri got the stuff porkchop (ricotta and Swiss chard–a kind of mildly bitter greens) with asparagus and mashed potatoes. This was just OK, nothing special, but not bad either.

The portions are still not the greatest, but if I’m not super hungry (which I wasn’t) it’s good.

Don, you should try this place again. Go for anything with risotto. I think the cook really has a sophisticated sense of blending flavors versus ingredients and flavors from different cultures, i.e. pacific rim cusisine.

I still don’t care much for the stainless steel tables and overall ambiance.. (It’s not a place I’d want to invite friends for a good convesation.)

Reid, June 2008
Btw, we also went to Town again recently. Now, Town is cheaper than Buon Amici, but they give less food. However, when their dishes work, they are really impressive. I’ve talked about cooks who know how to blend flavors and textures in original and sophisticated ways versus cooks who can make simple dishes that taste good, but lack originality. The cook at Town is one of those guys taking that approach with what is basically comfort food.

I got to try the roasted chicken with torn bread, that’s more of a simple dish, but I’ve heard people rave about it, so I gave it a shot. I enjoyed, even though I don’t like eating chicken on a bone (there weren’t many bones anyway). Grace had the oxtail risotto which was good. To me, if you like risotto, you should try the ones at Town. They really do a good job. I think Larri had the mon-chong which was delicate and flavorful (although I can’t remember how it was prepared). (The fish dishes are on the smaller size here). Oh, and the house-salad–mango, avocado, almonds (or walnuts) and the “green goddess” dressing is killer. The portion is small, but it’s really good. Don, if you’re reading this, you should give this place another shot. (Don’t go when you’re starving though.)

1 Response to “Town”

  1. pen

    Town is open for breakfast and it is yummy.

    I’ve eaten here for dinner and enjoyed the chicken with grapes on rustic croutons (aka torn toasted bread) the best. The ribeye steak is huge (lopping off my plate a little), but while good, not great like the one at Le Bistro. The mussels are also good, but Du Vin’s comes with pommes frittes although Town’s broth is a little more savory and spicy. Their risottos are also pretty darn creamy and delicious.

    But let’s talk about breakfast. I had the “egg in a hole” which was an egg fried in the hole of olive brioche. It came with a side of ratatouille (which was delicious and tasted of white wine) and 3 or 4 strips of maple bacon (crisp and yummy as only bacon can be). My friend had the savory organic polenta (so smooth, buttery and creamy I could feel my arteries clogging, but what a way to go!) It came with sauteed bitter greens and pine nuts and a fried egg. They also have omelettes and banana pancakes and the like.

    Service: When I’ve been here for dinner, service has always been fairly good to very good. Wait staff made us feel comfortable and were attentive. For breakfast, you go to the bar and place your order. While not rude, the staff was not particularly friendly or helpful, either. It kind of reminded me of the service I get at Bogart’s. Not impolite, but not really polite, either.

    Atmosphere: Much more casual for breakfast. The side doors are open that lead to the outdoor seating. Water and condiments are self-serve. For breakfast and for dinner I like the relaxed atmosphere. I prefer indoor seating, because the lanai seems so close to the traffic.

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