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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

 

Grand crescendo at Grand Café


Last week we did First Friday in style. The Grand Café is usually open only for breakfast and lunch, but they do have a special menu for dinner on First Fridays. We wish they were open for dinner more often, but certainly we wouldn't miss the one chance each month to try what the exceptionally talented staff have prepared for the festive evening.

Our first objective was the Louis Pohl Gallery to take in the Healing Passages & Gestures exhibit which included several moving works by Playworks studio's Nan Holmes (No link -- PlayWorks has managed to get along all these years without a website. It's a studio offering process painting and creative sandplay located in Nuuanu -- call Nan for info at 528-2433). Nan's work always has that healing quality, and was a great place to line up our chakras for the rest of the evening.

It was drizzling lightly, so we headed directly over to the Grand Café, figuring everyone else will soon be doing the same and a table will be harder to get. We learned that a table would be open in about 20 minutes, leaving us time to run next door to HASR Wine Company for their tasting that evening.

Well, everyone who was not already in the Grand Café was at HASR. And it was a happy crowd. We ran into several friends and neighbors, confirming that everyone worth knowing was indeed at HASR (if you weren't there, don't worry, First Friday occurs once each month, you can make the scene next time). The crowd bubbled over into the courtyard.

Twenty minutes was certainly not enough to both chat and sip, but we did manage to try some wines that were priced at the top of the scale and some that were affordable, and walked away with one that we liked -- and one to take next door to enhance our dinner.

Elbowing our way into the Grand Café, we were shown to our table, which was between two huge parties. To my right was a table set for eight, and on the left were ten people already deep into their meal.

Nanette ordered the Rack of Venison, which was served with a blackberry sauce, mashed potatoes and broccolini. I chose the Seared Duck Breast with mushroom and duck confit risotto with Kirsch cherry sauce. Both were awesome, and the service was attentive. We were getting into the party spirit, just we two.

And then it began. Eight noisy, happy diners to the right of us. Ten to the left of us, and lots of other people in the restaurant, a line also forming inside to the door. The Grand Café is always "live", they don't go in for sound absorbing material very much. So we get used to speaking louder than usual when we go there. "How's the venison?" I shouted, but I wasn't understood. "The venison, how is it? V-e-n-i-s-o-n" I said, while pointing impolitely. But then I couldn't make out the answer.

The folks at the tables to the right and left of us were shouting also to be heard, and because they were enjoying the food and the company immensely. They began to talk louder and louder. I couldn't believe it, but the sound level had reached a point where I don't think I could have made myself understood, and probably others were having the same experience. Because the sound level was so high, people were speaking louder, which of course increased the sound level even more!

I don't know if science has a name for this effect -- so for the moment, I dub it the "Grand Café Effect." It's ok -- we can talk later. For the moment we were enjoying our food in silence, a silence so deafening that no talk was possible. No cell phone interruptions either, couldn't hear any cell phones.

After a few minutes the crescendo abated, and the party of ten began to depart. A cell phone rang. All was back to normal.

After sharing an amazing dessert, we departed, just as the next party of ten was being seated.

Don't miss the Grand Café on First Friday. All of your friends will be there, at least the ones worth knowing. There, or they'll be next door.

Grand Café & Bakery
31 N. Pauahi St.
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 531-0001
M-F 6:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday 7:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.
First Fridays only:
5:30 - 8:30 p.m.

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