If you’re in Honolulu and are looking for an elegant, romantic, and luxurious experience, look no further than La Mer. Dining there is quite an experience and I put it on the level with meals such as those at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. Such a wonderful dinner and definitely worth the splurge.
The restaurant, which has been awarded a five-star designation by Forbes Travel Guide for multiple years and has been a ranked AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant, is located in the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki. From the moment you sit down at La Mer with its striking open air windows and views of the Pacific, it’s apparent you’re in for a special treat.
And every step of the way the wonderful, attentive staff make you feel right at home and attend to your every need.
On our visit, we had the tasting menu which is quite honestly the best way to see the full culinary expertise of the chef. And it makes for quite an event! Each course was explained in detail as they were presented – and Lord knows I needed some explanation as a Southern girl that’s known to get down on grits and mustard greens!
And of course, we had to partake of the wine. As La Mer is a French restaurant, there is a heavy emphasis on French wine but regions around the world are well represented. According to the restaurant’s sommelier Kevin Toyama, their goal in assembling a wine list is to find classic examples of wines that are elegant, show restraint, and pair with the restaurant’s fine cuisine. The restaurant takes the same approach in designing its spirits list.
Things certainly got off to a great start with our first amuse of Anchovy Puree Potato Puff topped with caviar (which showed up in several subsequent dishes) and 23 karat gold leaf. Hello! It was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. Somm Kevin paired this with a Brut Rose Champagne. Magnifique!
For our 2nd Amuse, the pairing was created to suit The Husband. Fois gras on brioche topped with a Sauternes jelly.
The fois gras was smoked with mesquite with the restaurant’s smoker as was The Husband’s Whistle Pig bourbon (actually the glass). The smoker is part of the restaurant’s spirits program and Somm Kevin was spot on with the pairing. It was quite the aromatic experience! And tasty to boot.
And then we had a 3rd amuse. I believe this is the restaurant’s traditional amuse and consisted of Vichyssoise with salmon roe.
After all of the beautiful and delicious amuse, Somm Kevin assisted us in choosing a bottle for the rest of the meal. And what better classic pairing than Burgundy?
Our first official course consisted of a cold appetizer. And as was prevalent throughout the exquisite menu, caviar was an essential ingredient.
Both dishes were visually stunning and a treat for all the senses. We appreciated the courses even more when the chef came out to tell us a bit more about the food and his philosophy in creating it.
Our second course consisted of a pair of warm appetizer soups.
Soups are notorious for being difficult to pair, but Somm Kevin had a couple of tricks up his sleeve to pair with the soups and they were spot on.
In each case, the wines were not necessarily the star of the pairing, rather they were present just under the surface to enhance the soups. I would never have come up with these pairings which is why he does what he does and I continue to stick to #Lawyering.
The 3rd course consisted of the fish course.
Such beautiful presentation and a melody of delicate flavors.
Next up was the meat and poultry course. The Burgundy definitely upped its game here and though we were several courses in (it’s a tough job) I soldiered on for the duration.
Like everything else, the presentation was amazing and a wonder of flavors and textures. I’m always so in awe of chefs and the masterpieces they are able to create.
Last but not least – and boy were we pretty full – was the dessert course. And what an ending! We couldn’t finish them but wow! And that soufflé was the business!
All in all, we had a lovely, intimate, and exquisite dining experience at Honolulu’s La Mer. We loved every aspect of the meal from the amazing views, exceptional staff, creative cuisine, and top-notch wine selection. My wallet was a bit lighter, but life is short so why not? And shout out to Somm Kevin for his spot on wine recommendations and dealing with a character like me.
Find more great Honolulu wine spots here.