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A Cassis Lunch Menu Debut | Table Talk | Midweek.com

A Cassis Lunch Menu Debut

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - November 07, 2007
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Chef George Mavrothalassitis
Chef George Mavrothalassitis

The thing that I love best about Chef George Mavrothalassitis is his absolute devotion to good produce and great local food. When I chatted with him last year about his new restaurant Cassis, he described it as a restaurant with simple dishes served in a casual environment.

“I don’t know if this is crazy,” he said, “but it seems as soon as we got everything under control at Chef Mavro (his fine-dining restaurant), it’s time to start something else.”

Personally I didn’t think that was crazy at all. What I did think was crazy was the $28 Thai Seafood Curry and the $26 Tako Salad that became the backbone of the lunch menu at Cassis. Inspired by the incredible success of his eponymous King Street restaurant, Mavro ventured into the world of lunchtime dining with a belief that customers would be happy to pay $60 for a couple of salads and a curry. The downtown lunch crowd, used to a variety of nearby excellent options (it’s hard to beat the cheeseburger at Murphy’s for $8.50) opted out, and lunchtime at Cassis became quieter than Honolulu Memorial Park.

Until, that is, last week, when Cassis debuted a $12 lunch menu.

When chef and I last chatted, he (now famously) stated, “I will serve no pasta, no burgers, no sandwiches and no pizza. End of story.”

I remember thinking, what is everyone going to eat?

But Chef Mavro is a rare breed in this profession of giant egos. He is a man who listens to his customers and who knows when to take some advice. So he sat down with executive chef Ben Takahashi and asked him to help rewrite the menu.

“We came up with a menu designed for people who need a quick lunch, but who still want quality ingredients,” says Ben.

The result? Provencal pizza with a perfectly thin crust and fabulously fresh ingredients, a couple of sensational Black Angus beef burgers topped with aged Cheddar and fried green tomato, and a roasted vegetable sandwich with eggplant, tomato and zucchini. Chef’s already popular Chicken Tzatziki has been reinvented as an open sandwich on pita bread, and there are a number of new salads. A three-course lunch including soup (try the gorgeous curried cauliflower) or salad with entre is just $16.50. Popular dishes that quickly established themselves as Cassis favorites, like the Chicken HuliHuli style, Tart Flambee and the day boat catch will remain on the menu.

Lunch at Cassis now offers a perfectly executed, fresh, locally inspired menu, where customers who might not be able to afford to dine often at Chef Mavro can taste a little of what this great chef does best: fresh, local food cooked with immense passion.

Seeing him working the line the other day at and calling out orders from the grill was delightful. And, in typical Chef Mavro style, he’s enjoying the new experience.

“You know,” he said, with a huge grin, “I never worked the line in the kitchen like this before.”

Rush to Cassis for lunch. You’ll find great food, good value, passionate staff and a devoted, gifted chef who understands more than most the unique relationship between land, sea and table.

Happy eating!

66 Queen St.

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