Holiday Wining And Dining

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - December 23, 2009
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Aloha to Wolfgang’s general manager Amir Ibrahim

I find this time of year the hardest when it comes to deciding where to eat. So many restaurants are dressed up with twinkling lights and celebratory menus that I can imagine sipping glasses of bubbly in dozens of them.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is such a great time to catch up with friends, hear all the news and stop to smell the Pinot Noir. And you don’t have to break the bank to celebrate with wonderful wines. I’m a huge fan of sparkling wines from both Spain and Italy, and the holidays present the perfect opportunity to sip and share. You’ll find cava (Spain) and prosecco (Italy) reasonably priced and at all of the fine wine stores. While a Champagne like Veuve Clicquot is undoubtedly one of the world’s great drinks, there’s much to be said for the gorgeous sparkling wines of Europe. If you’ve held a somewhat snobby attitude to the humble sparklers before this, grab yourself a bottle of Ruggeri Prosecco (retails at about $14) and prepare to be amazed. ...


Holiday menus are everywhere this week, with many restaurants preparing special menus for New Year’s Eve. One of the best spots for an entire evening package that includes lobster, steak, champagne, fireworks and dancing is at Longhi’s Restaurant in Ala Moana Center, where a set menu will be served from 8 p.m. There’s a five-course menu that should keep you eating until the firework display and champagne toast at midnight, then you can toast the new year and then dance off the calories. ...

I have only been to Wolfgang’s Steak House four or five times since it opened, but each time I’ve loved the service, the ambience and yes, the sizzling slab of Canadian bacon. It’s one of the strangest sounding appetizers on any menu, but take my word, it’s worth ordering. Wolfgang’s general manager Amir Ibrahim says it’s one of the restaurant’s best-selling dishes in New York and Hawaii. Ibrahim, who came to Hawaii to open Wolfgang’s, is packing his bags and heading home right after the holidays. He’s going back to New York and then on to open other restaurants for the growing chain. He’ll be missed by his staff in Hawaii and by regulars who’ve become accustomed to his gentle manner and attention to detail. “I will miss Hawaii very much,” says the Egyptian-born, soft-spoken Ibrahim, “but I also miss my home, New York.”

Wolfgang’s will be left in the more-than-capable hands of Bill Nickerson, a veteran steak house guy who has the easy confidence, experience and professionalism a busy, up-market restaurant needs. This week is a great time to check out Wolfgang’s - a Christmas Eve special menu is just $35. Hard to believe you can get exceptional service and food at this price. ...

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without Hank Adaniya creating his usual festive mischief. On the seasonal menu at the non-P.C. Hanks Haute Dogs (locations are Kakaako and the International Marketplace), you’ll find The Reindeer Dog.

“It’s back by popular demand,” says Hank of the lean caribou blended with beef. With seasonal seasonings of red, golden and green, the deer dog is trimmed with ketchup, mustard, white onions and festive green relish. Take the kids for a hot dog, by all means, but please, no jokes about Rudolph.

Merry Christmas and Happy Eating!

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