Reid, 18. August 2008, 20:46

(Restaurant Row)

This is the place run by sommelier, Chuck Furuya (well, I think it’s run by him), and connected with D.K. Kodama and Hiroshi (Hiroshi’s is right next door.) The place got favorable reviews at yelp, so Penny, Larri, Zane and I decided to check this out. If you’ve been to Formaggio, this is basically a similar place: wine is the main feature, with some small dishes to accompany it. I recall a lot of the yelp posters saying it’s a good place to hang out, and I actually thought there was something missing in the ambiance and space. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a space that made me feel like returning to.

Anyway, on to the food. We started with a pumpkin bisque with chilled lobster and a mushroom struddle with goat cheese and I can’t remember what else (Pen?). The struddle was good; even Larri liked it despite disliking goat cheese (it was subtle). I asked the waiter to choose some wine for each dish, and the wine was decent. (You can order 2 oz of wine for about $2-5.) There was something else we got, but I can’t remember now.

In the next round we got filet mignon with pasta ($22) and a gnocchi with crab. Both gnocchi and pasta were disappointing (kinda lifeless). I had a really nice white wine paired with the gnocchi. The grapes were supposed from Mt. Vesuvius.

For dessert there was a bananas foster with chocolate truffles dish and a chocolate cake with warm chocolate and vanilla ice-cream. The latter was a lot like the truffle at Covenant Books, but not better (from what I remember). The bananas foster was solid, and I don’t usually care for bananas foster.

I think the place is comparable to Formaggio, and if I had to choose between the two, I’d flip a coin.

I’ve only been to the Formaggio in Market City (never been to the Kailua one), but no doubt I would pick Vino over Formaggio, because it is more spacious, more condusive to conversation because the music isn’t loud and it has a more relaxing vibe.

As Reid said, the food was pretty solid except for the pasta dishes which were muddled in flavor and just not fresh and springy. The mushroom strudel was more lumpia shaped than a strudel, but the flavors were yum. The dish Reid couldn’t remember was a risotto dish with pumpkin with something I can’t remember. It was pretty good.

Reid had 5(?) 2oz. glasses of wine paired with the various dishes and all together it was $20 (or less). That is a good deal! Also, Reid forgot to mention it (probably because he doesn’t like peaches), but I had a peach tart for dessert, which looked burned on the top, but tasted good. Standard fruit and puff pastry dish. Desserts came from the nearby Hiroshi’s.

The risotto came with scallops, and it was OK.

Re: Formaggio vs. Vino

I’ve only been to the Formaggio in Kaimuki, too, and I agree that Vino is more conducive to conversation as Formaggio can get loud. Formaggio can be either a little cramped or cozy depending on your point of view. I prefer the feel of the space at Formaggio a little more, but Vino is a better place to have a conversation.)

I’d go back to both places if I want wine, but I wouldn’t go just for the food.

Penny, how would you compare Du Vin with both places?

Reid, I like the courtyard portion of Du Vin, because you can actually hear your fellow diners, even if there is a big crowd. Well let me qualify that. I like the courtyard as long as there is a breeze and it’s not stifling or raining. I like that Du Vin has the happy hour (half off), and what they do, they generally do well, but their food is very simple compared to Formaggio and Vino. I guess it would depend on my mood. If I’m craving mussels, french bread and pate, it’s off to Du Vin. If I want something more sophisticated, I’m off to Vino.

I agree that Du Vin’s food is not as good as Vino’s (and I think I would add Formaggio), although I haven’t really tried any entres from Du Vin. Du Vin has one of the best ambiances, especially if you don’t care about having an intimate conversation.
Do you remember the prices for wine at Formaggio and Du Vin? I don’t think both places had deals for 2 oz. glasses of wine (which is a big plus at Vino’s).

I’m not sure about Formaggio, but Du Vin doesn’t have that 2 oz. glass offering.

1 Response to “Vino”

  1. Reid

    Vino gives a 50% discount to all items if you eat at the bar between 5:30-6:30–wine not included. We went there on Thursday. Here’s what we had:

    We started with several appetizers: foie gras ($19), calamari ($8), mac and cheese (with ham and mushrooms) and asparagus (with over-easy egg, truffle oil and something else; can’t remember the price). The calamari was meh and the asparagus really wasn’t anything special, imo. The mac and cheese was a little too runny. It was fine, but not really well done. But the foie gras! Well, it’s not exceptional, per se, but it’s good and a good portion. Vino serves it with an over-easy egg, some prosciutto on two pieces of toasted bread. Yum! Even more yum was the wine that the bartender recommended (can’t remember the name)–a fizzy, sweet red wine. Oh, so ono! I would go back here and order the two and that’s it!

    For entres we got the following:

    Cioppino: kind salty and strong–as opposed to soulful warm yumminess. Meh. (I did like the cavaloto(sp?) wine that I had with this.)
    Maine lobster on risotto with asapargus and mushrooms: Pretty dainty, and the lobster and risotto didn’t have much flavor (although Larri disagreed).
    Dungess crab meat with pasta, corn and jalapeno: the pasta was little miniature e-mein (which I really like). I liked the combination of flavors. It’s not great cooking, but I enjoyed this.

    All three dishes was a little under $25.

    I’d go back for the foie gras and maybe the crab pasta. They also had a crispy whole sea bass that I should try. I’d stay away from the things I mentioned weren’t very good.

    Going back to the comparison between Vino, Formaggio and Du Vin. I think the food at Du Vin a lot better than when I first tried it–and I would give it the edge over Vino. The wine at Vino is the best I’ve had, though. Formaggio has some good items, but it can be hit-and-miss, too.

    The 50% special is worth trying–especially if you liked seared foie gras!

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