Going First Class At The W

Jo McGarry
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Friday - August 06, 2005
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W hotel executive chef
Guilluame Burlion is known
for changing the menu on a
daily basis

Check out the self-publicity on the Internet for Diamond Head Grill (located in the W hotel) and you’ll find a place “where gourmand dreams come true.”

Well, that may have been true when it first opened years ago, but it certainly hasn’t been the case in recent times.

Diamond Head Grill is a restaurant that has always been overwhelmed by themes much larger than its relatively unimpressive menu. There was the original chef/owner, David Paul Johnson, whose likeness seemed to be everywhere from wine bottle labels to a giant portrait hanging in the dining room.

Then there was the introduction of THE BED. In case you don’t know, there’s a bed in the bar area at the W, and imbibers are encouraged to “take a flying leap onto the sexy bed.” I’m never sure whether you’re supposed to leap with your martini in hand or not. And then there’s the “living room,” where you can play board games and relax like you’re at home. Fluffy pillows, perfect candlelight and you playing backgammon in your best clothes. Just like at home. But while they might have a “sexy” bed, and admittedly a terrific list of cocktails, there’s been nothing to titillate the taste buds coming out of the kitchen.

Until now, that is.

The W has pulled off a culinary coup and hired a chef with outstanding credentials and an impressive pedigree. Quietly and without fanfare, Guilluame Burlion has taken over the kitchen, and my guess is he’s about to ignite some fires.

Here are a few of Burlion’s credentials. New York Times Chef of the Year (1999). James Beard Foundation honoree. Escoffier Chef of the Year, executive chef of AAA Five Diamond Award restaurant The Wild Boar in Nashville Tennessee.

He’s been in Honolulu for a while and enjoyed a brief stint at Mid Pac Country Club while looking, he says, for the right opportunity. “I have been coming to Hawaii for the past 12 years or so,” he says, “I love it so much. And the last time I just decided to stay. The executive chef position became open at The W, and the timing was just right.”

When asked about the menu, Burlion, who is known for changing menus on a daily basis to avoid boredom in the kitchen, says, “It is done already. Changed.”

And for those who’ve wondered about the direction of one of Honolulu’s trendiest spots, he has no hesitation in making his aim clear.

“First class all the way,” he says. “That’s what I like.”

Me too.

So, they can get rid of the bed, the backgammon and the candles. They can even shut down the living room. This is what they’ve needed all along — a really good chef in the kitchen.

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