The Weekly Eater


Sunday, May 6, 2001

Beau Soliel owner Holly Hadsell offers up some fresh baked scones.

Manoa welcomes back
a long lost friend

Here's something that has never happened before. I walk into Beau Soleil and already chowing down is the reviewer for the Advertiser. Now I hear the Honolulu Weekly's coming out with its review of the restaurant later this week -- a culinary convergence!

This is weird. We're usually so far apart in our scheduling it's great for readers. There's no chance of redundancy. But I can guess why we all wanted to be there. Good food.

I can't speak for my competitors, but I know I prefer being the good guy instead of the bad guy, coming up with heaps of praise for our friendly neighborhood restaurants.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. You should hear the calls I get from distraught owners, one going so far as to threaten suicide with a copy of my review over her face so that everyone would know, she said, the cause of her demise. It's always all about them. What about us? What about the distress they cause me when they put out lousy food?


Food StarStarStarStar
Service StarStarStar1/2
Ambience StarStarStar
Value StarStarStarStar

Address: 2970 E. Manoa Road / 988-0967
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; dinner 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays; Saturday and Sunday brunch 7 a.m. to 2 p.m
Cost: For two, brunch about $20 to $25; dinner about $35 to $50

Enough of that. I wanted a good meal and guessed that Manoa's Beau Soleil would be perfect from the start. I was right. For one thing, there's a sense of deja vu because the restaurant's been there before, before an auto mishap rendered co-owner Moumen El Hajji unable to keep up with catering and a sister restaurant on Waialae Avenue, much to the dismay of the Manoa crowd. Now old friends are returning and they spend half their time praising him, the other half berating him for having deserted them. At least he knows he was missed.

The great thing about this restaurant is its total sense of ease. Decor is bright and sunny a la the Mediterranean, just as the name "beautiful sun" suggests. The menu is just as comfortable. It's at once simple and refined.

It's obviously well thought out, but never seems contrived or overworked.

Just in time for Mother's Day, the restaurant offers a simple brunch that will continue every Saturday and Sunday. Yup, the fluffy, delicate pancakes are back, filled with bananas and walnuts ($8.50) or chocolate chunks and orange zest ($9).

In addition, French toast ($9.50) is made from the restaurant's own sourdough, then topped with smoked salmon and lemon sour cream. It's a nice switch from the usual lox and bagel or plain French toast.

Even their version of hash ($10) is more substantial than the usual flattened patty. Here, chunks of roasted and pan-fried potatoes are tossed with equally large slices of the catch of the day, fennel and onions, then toped with a poached egg and lemon-dill hollandaise. Well done.

In the evening, start with the mezze plate, which offers quite a lot of food for $8. This Mediterranean sampler features a creamy Moroccan eggplant salad, roasted garlic hummus, thick fava bean puree and Tuscan white beans with just the right amount of crunch.

And Prince Edward Island mussels ($10) are a real treat this far from the tiny Canadian province off the Eastern Atlantic. These compact, juicy morsels are considered among the best in the world, and are served here in garlic broth dotted with saffron threads.

I tried the arugula salad because I really like the stuff, but a little goes a long way, and the intense flavor of the Manoa arugula salad ($8.50) proved too much to handle.

No biggie. We moved on to the Moroccan braised lamb shank ($20), a satisfying tagine which had me longing for cold weather and a fireplace. This was accompanied by a dried apricot and red and green pepper couscous.

For those who prefer simplicity, there is rib eye steak ($22) served with french fries and bearnaise; basic angel hair pasta topped with spicy tomato sauce ($12); and a mixed seafood grill ($25) featuring a mini lobster tail, Kahuku prawns, Scottish scallops, fresh fish and tender calamari strips.

Finish with any of the housemade desserts, such as a crumbly wedge of banana-walnut cheesecake or one of the restaurant's lovely tarts, puff pastry in the shape of a sun and baked with pears. The perfect finale.

See some past restaurant reviews in the
Do It Electric!

section online. Click the logo to go!

Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

very good, exceeds expectations;
below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to

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