Downtown at HiSam

Reid, 6. August 2007, 18:04

Downtown @ HiSAM

HiSAM stands for “Hawai’i State Art Museum.” Downtown is the second restaurant (as far as I know) by Ed Tenney, owner of Town. When this placed first opened up, Larri and I went down to check out the menu. We weren’t that impressed, so we never had a strong desire to go back.

This summer we decided to give it a try. Luckily we did. The first time we went the restaurant was closed, so we didn’t see the anti-pasti, panini and quiche sandwiches they had out on the take-out side of the restaurant. For around $8 you can get a variety of combinations of anti-pasti (mostly three choices out of a selection of about six items) with either panini, quiche or soup. (I believe they also have a soup and sandwich combo.)

That’s what Larri and I went for. I got a vegetarian quiche with carrot-hummus, mushrooms (in olive oil), and I can’t remember the third thing. Larri got the ham panini sandwich and soup with some sides. I can’t remember the sides she got now, but we were both satisfied. The food seems to have a strong mediterranean flavor.

The sit-down section’s menu is pricier–up to $16–but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.

On First Friday’s they also serve Spanish tapas. We went this past Friday and enjoyed it. I’ll try to list everything we ate with some commentary:

–ham and cheese croquettes: basically what the name says. They were about the size of large silver dollars; didn’t seem very Spanish; (4 pieces for $4)
–opelu: this was cured with olives and oranges. The flavors blended well together, and I was surprised to like this. (two small slivers for about $6)
–squash blossoms with ricotta: deep fried. Yum! (three small pieces for $5, I think);
–stuffed pepper: I forget the name of the pepper, but it was basically a tiny red pepper stuffed with ahi (like shreded tuna) and potatoes. It was OK.
–apple and bloodsausage risotto: I like Kenney’s risotto. His use of fruit really brings a sutble flavor and texture to the dish. The sausage, ground finely, was nice a zesty (I think this was $6-$8; Larri liked this, too).
–Larri also ordered a sandwich with anti-pasti: mushrooms, lentils and a roasted vegetables. The sandwich was just OK; anti-pasti was better.

I can’t remember what else we got, if we got anything else. But the bill came out to about $50 with tip, and we tried a lot of stuff. The other thing is that I didn’t feel really grossed out after the meal, even though I was really full. It’s definitely a place I would check out again. Hey idiots, let’s go on the next First Friday!

Oh one more thing. I like the ambiance, but there’s something that bugs me; I think it’s the concrete floor. The music is piped through some horrid speakers that makes you feel like you’re in Gems. But I like the modernish and spare furniture and design of the place (except for something–the floor?).

Downtown @ HiSAM (con’t)

We went again last night, another First Friday. The menu was not very appealing, so we only got a few stuff:

fried ricotta stuffed squash(?) blossoms (good)
beef carpaccio with black truffle oil and maui onion (OK)
maderia chicken with cous-cous (Very good)
Dates wrapped with a type of ham (good)
deviled eggs (like any other deviled eggs)
ham and cheese croquettes (OK, pretty standard)

Normally, I don’t care for roasted chicken with the bones or cous-cous served as the starch, but the Madeira chicken above is an exception. I also don’t like nuts in the grain, but, again, this dish is an exception. The flavors are really good in this. There were also bits of fruit (pear?) in the cous-cous that worked really well.

There are certain items at both Town and Downtown that just don’t work very well, and if you get those items you won’t think highly of both places. But there are dishes that work really well. So far it seems that the Mediterranean stuff are really good–brown rice tabouli, and the Madeira chicken. Kenney’s risottos are also very good.

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