I wish I was enough of a foodie to say that I was always familiar with the background and talents of award-winning chef Philippe Padovani. But apart from knowing that he was one of the founders of “Hawaii Regional Cuisine,” I only truly became a fan of his after my coworkers and I developed an addiction to his chocolate creations.
You see, after launching several fine dining restaurants, Padovani downsized and opened Padovani’s Chocolates in a small, out-of-the-way storefront at Dole Cannery in 2008. Considering his prestigious culinary pedigree, it was refreshing to learn that he was surprisingly accessible, very warm and friendly, and generous with his time and chefly knowledge.
We loved his chocolates. We really loved his coffee creations. So late last year, a few of my coworkers and kinda adopted him, his wife, and their modest operation. We helped them reorganize and decorate their store, we started work on upgrading their website, and we set them up on Facebook, on Twitter, and other social media sites.
As much as Padovani liked making gourmet chocolates, he spoke often of his adventures in the restaurant business, and while he continued to participate in special events, he clearly missed working in a kitchen. Then, late last year, he had the unexpected opportunity to take over the space managed by his business partner, chef Donato Loperfido.
Padovani jumped at the chance, and in record time, he unveiled plans for Padovani’s Grill.
Though the restaurant has now been open for a couple of weeks, it’s still a work in progress, and both the facility and the menu has seen continuous changes and upgrades. But after my trip to Seoul and Padovani’s trip to a San Francisco food show, my coworkers and I figured the shakedown cruise had gone well enough to give Padovani’s Grill a try.
How was it?
The crispy duck confit is Padovani’s specialty and most-requested dish, and for good reason. Definitely the high point of the meal. Even though I don’t usually seek out salads, or eggplants, the baked Italian eggplant salad was wonderful. And the desserts? Worth a visit on their own. Perfect tiramisu, and a surprisingly delightful fig and port ice cream.
Our lunch represented barely a third of the menu (and the chef improbably and unwisely comped our meal), so we’ll definitely be back to order even more (and to properly dine on the books). But it’s during dinner that Padovani’s Grill really shines, with an expanded menu and a magical ambiance, so I’m especially eager to visit after dark… with my wife.
It’s not too late to book for Valentine’s Day!
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