Chef Mavro's Blog

Blogging about food & wine

Two Classic French Cuisine Institutions Interesting story in the NY Times about La Tour d’Argent & Taillevent Restaurants.   With all the respect I have for this two institutions, perfect classic food execution, perfect service, perfect wine list.  I want the public to know that nobody  else cooks like that in France anymore, nobody serves like that and only some privileged customers drink this kind of wine (at least in a restaurant).   Some associate French cuisine with “too heavy, too expensive too pompous.”  La Tour d’Argent & Taillevent have been for too long synonymous with French cuisine and this is not necessarily a plus.   Also for decades now gourmet restaurants are owned by chefs (the contrary of  La Tour d’Argent & Taillevent).  Keep these two institutions as the “last bastions of Cuisine Temples” and enjoy the creativity and the spontaneity of the French new generation of restaurants.  G. Mavro

Celebrate Valentine’s pre and post February 12, 13 and 15

Chef Mavro restaurant is so romantic that the celebration goes on for four days! On February 12, 13 and then 15, you can choose from a four-course ($78) or a 6-course ($120) menu, each very flexible. From the comfortable ambiance, to delicious food & wine, to friendly expert service, this is a restaurant designed for couples. In fact, when Chef Mavro created the restaurant, he asked star interior designer Mary Philpotts to “make women look even more beautiful!” Soft lighting, peach tones and a relaxed vibe create an atmosphere that invites conversation and of course romance!

New Winter Menu starts January 5th

The 3-course menu ($69)  is back on Chef Mavro’s new Winter Menu!

New recipes and wine pairings include:

roasted lamb loin, “vadouvan” of lentils with lamb bacon
confit cherry tomato and garlic, winter savory lamb jus
“black cherry, blueberry, brown spice, earth and vanilla”

more details to come…

What is your dream feast for New Year’s Eve?

Chef Mavro will be cooking up the very best of Provence and Hawaii!

Fresh Truffles flown in from France, Caviar & Bigeye Ahi in an updated Chef Mavro classic, sautéed Foie Gras, Lobster with a chorizo puff, a greatest hit from a recent menu, 100% Wagyu, and for the grand finale a Fantasy of White, Milk & Dark Chocolate.

Premium wine pairings selected by sommelier Todd Ashline including Riesling Auslese, Champagne Rosé, Sauternes, Morey St. Denis, the rare Bordeaux Château Chasse-Spleen, and the unique Hungarian Tokaji with your dessert.

Bouquets of gold and black balloons float above each table creating a magical effect. Also a civilized and luxurious ambiance away from la “foule,” the smoke and the cacophony of fire works.

This is exactly what you’ll get on December 31st for Chef Mavro’s New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner.

Where: Chef Mavro Restaurant, 1969 South King Street, Honolulu on the beautiful Island of Oahu.

Cost: $170 without wine pairings; $90.00 for our sommelier selection wine pairings

Reservations from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Call (808) 944-4714 or


cod brandade, country bread croutons

big eye ahi, paddlefish caviar, taro chip, ponzu sauce

oven dried grapes, raisin bread, foie gras jus

kahuku cream corn, essence of lobster

strip loin and braised short rib in burgundy, celery root purée

persimmon kanten

a chocolate fantasy, mint white chocolate ice cream cone, rosemary milk chocolate malasada, dark chocolate flan

Letter from Chef Mavro – New Holiday Menu now through January 2, 2010 and New Year’s Eve Menu

Mahalo for another good year
AAA Five Diamonds again for 2010
18/20 Gayot’s top rating in Hawaii again for 2010

One more Christmas in my new home town.

I was born in Marseille, capital of Provence.  Marseille is a big city (on the French scale) more than 1 million inhabitants.  Growing up in Marseille is like growing up in a small village, everybody knows you and you know everybody.  If you haven’t seen a friend for a while you think “maybe is dead!”  Nobody (except me) leaves Marseille, born, grow, work and die some time in the same house.

People from Marseille are very welcoming, always smiling and joking. Nobody (except in the restaurant business) works very hard. When it takes one year in Paris to create a new road; it takes 10 years in Marseille to do the same road. But nobody really cares or complains.

In Marseille business is tough we always say “this is the price of the sun.”  We are not rich but happy. On bad times we think about the “pôvre” (miserable in Marseille dialect) inhabitants of Paris and Lyon and we feel better.

Now, replace the word Marseille by Honolulu…Is that not amazing?  I am home guys.

23 years in Hawaii and I don’t take anything for granted. I am, like the first day, still enjoying the morning run around the Punchbowl as well as the Monday swim at Kaimana Beach followed by a lunch at Ono Hawaiian Foods. Every time I eat ogo I celebrate like this is the best thing I have tasted in my whole life.  Same for local mango, watercress, lilikoi, guava, papaya, ahi, ginger etc.

Day-Boat Catch
Provence herbs, black olive, confit lemon & capers, caramelized fennel

Holidays are here and we are ready.  The Holiday menu is offered through January 2nd (7 days a week).  We will feature a special dessert to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Our Day-Boat catch is the celebration of Provence.  Crusted with Provence herbs cured black olive, confit lemon and capers, it’s served with a caramelized  fennel bulb and a bubbling lemon thyme emulsion.  This recipe is a very good bargain.  It is going to make you fly to Marseille without leaving your seat.  The wine, very crispy, citrusy, peachy, apricoty with long acidity (all the words in “y” even the one doesn’t exist).  I am talking about the Domaine de Chatenoy, Menetou-Salon from the Loire Valley, selected by our wine pairing committee.

What is espelette and how good is the Tamarind Roasted Sablefish?

Back to Hawaii with the Tamarind Roasted Sablefish.  It perhaps looks like a misoyaki butterfish but it is not.  Tamarind glazed, the fish is garnished with salad of cucumber, red radish and celery, tossed with a yogurt-cilantro extra virgin olive oil dressing.  The sauce: a puree of garlic flavored with espelette.  What is “espelette?”

Thank you for asking.  Before this menu I was myself not sure exactly what it was.  Kevin Chong discovered the espelette while visiting years ago the Basque Country between France and Spain.

Basques are wonderful people, they don’t want to be French and they don’t want to be Spanish either.  They are Basques…The cuisine is wonderful, Chicken Basquaise, Piperade etc. What happens in Basque country stays in Basque country. Next door in Provence we don’t hear about it.

Sorry I forgot; you ask what espelette is?

Espelette is a dried basque chile, not too hot with very specific flavors something like maybe cayenne and paprika.

Challenge for the wine? Not really; we all picked up a Pouilly-Fuisse from Chateau Pouilly which was created for this recipe with dried-fruit flavors that work very well with the espelette.

Fois Gras “au torchon,” marcona almonds, fig balsamic, Portuguese sweetbread
I talk too much and I have almost no more room but I want to tell you about the new Foie Gras.

The foie gras is poached “au torchon” (inside a towel in order to squeeze the foie after cooking to remove the excess of fat).  The foie is topped with spiced marcona almonds (from Spain).  The dish is garnished with a marmalade of granny smith tomatoes (not apples), accented with baby mustard cabbage leaves.  Then served with a fig balsamic vinegar, toasted house Portuguese sweetbread on the side.

The wine is not a Sauternes which makes me happy because I think that as fantastic as this wine is, it is too sweet for Foie Gras terrine. The wine is a German Gewürztraminer Spätlese from Fitz-Ritter. This is a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity that doesn’t overshadow the foie gras.

Our Winter Menu will start January 5th featuring new dishes such as Lamb, Date Tarte, Big Island fresh Goat Cheese…But this is for my next letter.

Please check our complete holiday menus and our New Year’s Eve gala dinner.


George Mavrothalassitis/Chef Mavro
Chef Mavro Restaurant
1969 S. King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826
(808) 944-4714

Big Island Goat Cheese


Our sommelier and restaurant manager Todd Ashline is also a featured columnist for The Honolulu Advertiser. Read his Raise a Glass feature story on gift suggestions for wine and food lovers (scroll down to previous blog post).

Truffles, Lobster, Wagyu Beef on New Year’s Eve Menu ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Of course the highlight of the Holiday is our New Year’s Eve gala dinner with gold & black decor and favors.  This menu spotlights the ingredients that you dream about for this occasion:
fresh truffles, caviar, foie gras, lobster, wagyu beef and the grand dessert of 2010!
We create a festive oasis and a civilized way to dine for New Year’s Eve, yet close to Waikiki if you plan to finish the night with fireworks and dancing.

Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers from our Sommelier Todd Ashline

  By Todd Ashline. from The Honolulu Advertiser, Raise a Glass, December 16, 2009 

 Just before the holidays, guests at Chef Mavro start to ask me for gift advice for wine lovers. Of course, a solid idea is always a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant with a personal note recalling a wine pairing you enjoyed.

 Here are some of my best ideas for the food and wine lovers in your life.

 First, books. Most of them aren’t too expensive, and they will get tons of use. Wine books are perfect for the inquisitive and the experimental types. Some of my favorites are: “The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia” “Red, White and Drunk All Over,” and “The Oxford Companion to Wine.” Pocket wine guides can be a good gift too.

 Wine paraphernalia and accessories are always welcome gifts, and there are numerous choices: tags to mark individual glasses at parties and wine tastings; aerators to help a wine open up faster; boards, coasters, and trivets made from corks; wine refrigerators; electric corkscrews; wine buckets — the list is endless. Wine preserver systems, pumps and sprays are nice for those who like to save a little wine for another day.

 Wine glasses are another great gift idea for the wine enthusiast. You can buy different types of glasses for just about every different type of wine. Then, of course, there are glasses for beer, martinis, sake, scotch and bourbon, and snifters for brandy. Some wine glasses are even supposed to help the wine breathe and open up faster, too. Wine glasses range from those that hold a few ounces to some that will hold more than a full-size bottle if you are really thirsty.

 Decanters make nice gifts, and you can get a wine basket or cradle to accompany it. Decanters are used to separate the wine from its sediment, and also to help a wine aerate and open up faster. They are generally used for big red wines, old red wines, or tight, full-bodied whites. They can also be used to display a nice cognac or scotch. They range in style from simple square boxes to little roundish vases to elaborate “duck” decanters. With any decanter, a good cleaning kit would be a nice addition as well.

Then there is the ever-handy wine bag or wine carrier. Some come with insulation to keep those precious bottles at the right temperature when you are transporting them, and wheels to save your back and arms carrying heavy bottles. You can find them in single-bottle totes and multi-bottle pull-behinds, and most are under $100.

 This leads us to maybe the best gift yet: wine. How can you go wrong with a bottle of wine or spirits for those special friends and family members? Pick up their favorite wine or spirits in a local retail store, or ask the professionals there for some advice on introducing your loved ones to something new and exciting. During the holidays, I usually leave the everyday bottle on the shelf and opt for something a little different or more special. You can never go wrong with a little bubbly around the holidays, either.

 A few wines I’ve seen around town are:

 • Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2009. This wine is seasonal, released in mid-November. The grapes are picked, fermented, bottled, and shipped within a few months so the wine is extremely fresh and fruity, with juicy berries, a nice wine for brunches or earlier in the day, and it’s under $15 a bottle.

 • Charles Heidsieck Brut Non Vintage Champagne. This is a fuller-bodied style of champagne , with green apple, toast, lemon and minerality for about $60. For a splurge, try a vintage “Champagne Charlie” from Charles Heidsieck.

 • Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac. It’s aged 10 years and a great cognac for the money, smooth with nice floral notes, orange and citrus flavors and finishes with vanilla. It retails for around $50 a bottle.

Todd Ashline is director/sommelier of Chef Mavro restaurant.; 944-4714.

Chef Mavro Logo Boxed Gift Certificates

Food and wine lovers on your gift list will love to open this ele­gant Chef Mavro logo box and find your gift cer­tifi­cate and a full color menu card with space for your per­sonal greet­ing. Give your friends and fam­ily Chef Mavro din­ing mem­o­ries that they’ll talk about for months!  It’s eas­ily arranged — just call us at 808–944-4714. Happy Holidays!Chef Mavro Boxed Gift Certificate 002(2)

By popular demand – Chef Mavro’s ‘Nouveau’ Menu Extended to December 19, 2009 3-course feast ($59) paired with Beaujolais Nouveau

Chef Mavro’s Beaujolais Nouveau menu has received an enthusiastic “hana hou” from guests so he will continue cooking this fabulous 3-course $59 feast through December 19, 2009.

“The flavors are a magical combination: crispy suckling pig, molokai sweet potato puree, pickled mustard cabbage, and black cumin-white pineapple glaze with the 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau. It makes our job easy!” exclaims Chef Mavro

The tableside service of this enticing French-Hawaii recipe adds to the festive mood of these special Chef Mavro dinners. In addition to the suckling pig entrée, the other stellar moments of this special menu are the appetizer of Sautéed Maitake mushrooms, green papaya, Sumida watercress, galangal and kaffir lime, and the dessert Big Island Meyer lemon curd, Japanese cheese cake, citrus salad, ginger ice cream, pomegranate syrup. The $59 price includes appetizer, entrée, dessert and three additional complimentary courses: pre-appetizer, pre-dessert and hand crafted candies. Wine pairings including Beaujolais Nouveau are optional as always.

Seating is limited and available by reservation only, now through December 19, 2009, 6-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.  Call 944-4714 or email During this time Chef Mavro’s regular Fall Menu (4 and 6 courses, and the Grand Tasting menu) will also be available, as they remain the favorites for special occasions.

Background: Beaujolais Nouveau is a young red wine made from handpicked Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France. While most red wines improve with age, this wine is all about freshness and should be enjoyed right away. “August 2009 offered some of the best hot and sunny weather in the last 60 years. The favorable weather has helped the grapes mature nicely. The berries are thick, and the seeds are a gorgeous amber color…Their brightness, intensity, and above all, their perfect health are something to behold. We have not seen anything like this for a long time,” exclaimed Duboeuf (website

1969 S. King St. Honolulu HI 96826 (808) 944-4714
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Chef Mavro’s 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau Menu

includes three courses plus
pre-appetizer, pre-dessert & mignardises  59.00


three courses

sautéed maitake mushrooms, green papaya,
sumida watercress, galangal and kaffir lime

COCHON DE LAIT LACQUE (served tableside)
crispy suckling pig, molokai sweet potato puree,
pickled mustard cabbage, white pineapple pork jus

beaujolais nouveau granité

meyer lemon curd, japanese cheese cake, citrus salad
ginger ice cream, pomegranate syrup

Beyond Turkey by Honolulu Advertiser’s Wanda Adams

excerpt from today’s Honolulu Advertiser Island Life story by Wanda Adams:

“Chef George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Mavro restaurant said it’s easy for him to think about Thanksgiving without turkey because he grew up in the south of France where, of course, they don’t celebrate this American holiday. They do serve turkey, however, once a year at Christmas, often paired with a stuffing made from cepes (aka porcini mushrooms), which are in season during the holidays.

For a Thanksgiving turkey substitute, Mavro, as he’s universally known, recommends a menu that he is planning to offer as a special fixed-price promotion in his restaurant starting this week and continuing through the first week of December: roast suckling pig.

He points out that you can stuff a suckling pig as you can a turkey, but his plan is to bone the pork, roast it, crisp the skin and serve it with white sweet potatoes from Moloka’i and a garnish of pickled mustard cabbage.

He chose this option because roast pork pairs beautifully with Beaujolais Nouveau, the young and fresh red wine made from gamay grapes and released on the third Thursday of November each year. This year’s vintage is said to be the best in a half century, and Mavro wanted to celebrate the wine with something complementary.

In the course of describing how he will prepare this menu, he offered some interesting culinary advice. Be sure, when roasting meats, that the meat is dry (wipe it well with a paper towel) because excess moisture will affect the texture; the meat steams instead of roasting. And he laid down a rule: “Bake every red meat at low temperature and every white meat at high temperature.”
And his opinion of stuffing? “A culinary mistake – whatever you put inside the cavity, you are going to totally lose the texture.”
Reach Wanda A. Adams at

Chef Mavro's Suckling Pig in a festive 3-course menu (photo Honolulu Advertiser)

Chef Mavro's Suckling Pig in a festive 3-course menu (photo Honolulu Advertiser)

AAA Five Diamonds for Chef Mavro restaurant

For the second consecutive year, Chef Mavro restaurant is the only independent restaurant in Hawaii, and one of only a handful nationally, to earn the American Automobile Association (AAA) Five Diamond award. Other notable independent restaurant winners nationally are The French Laundry and Gary Danko in California; Aureole, Daniel, and Jean Georges Restaurant in New York.

The consistently outstanding food, service and décor of Chef Mavro restaurant was confirmed by the anonymous visits of highly trained AAA inspectors. The Five Diamond award is “reserved for those outstanding restaurants that exemplify the highest level of excellence in every facet of operation.”

George Mavrothalassitis, chef/owner comments: “To get Five Diamonds is difficult but the challenge is to keep it! Bravo to our kitchen and dining room staff.”

Chef Mavro received another coveted award recently as the only Hawaii restaurant to earn the Gayot restaurant critic rating of 18/20 (three toques). Mavrothalassitis is a founding member of Hawaii Regional Cuisine and won the James Beard Award, a one-time lifetime achievement award and the top culinary honor in the U.S.

The menu at this restaurant is reinvented each season as the culinary team works hand-in-hand with local farmers to bring new products to the table, and to develop innovative techniques that enhance the natural flavors of fresh local products. Chef Mavro is recognized as an all-around innovator including his introduction of food & wine pairings in 1998 when the restaurant opened.

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