Sunday night's preview of tonight's pop-up Hawaiian dinner at Iorio (SE 9th and Hawthorne) showcased a remarkably sophisticated menu of Hawaiian cuisine. Consciously absent were the pineapples, luau pig, and taro, and at no point were leis presented by a chubby, grass-skirted bar-back named Duane. Three chefs from Oahu, a bartender from Kauai, and the Iorio staff served a contemporary gourmet eight-course dinner featuring meltingly tender cured Opah, coppa de testa, and venison. Masterfully applied local fresh herbs, mushrooms, and sauces—flavored and plated with a refinement that would be at home in our Departures and Castagnas—supported the Hawaiian-raised meats and produce. At $65 a ticket, not inclusive of bartender Dave Powers' bold and unique island-inspired cocktails, it is a dinner worth considering, particularly if one's idea of Hawaiian food is hopelessly mired in plate lunches, Spam, and head-splitting Mai Tais.
Details on securing a seat are here.
A snippet from the press release: "With support from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, rising star chefs and co-owners Alejandro “Aker” Briceno, Lindsey Ozawa, and chef de cuisine Kevin Lee of PRIMA take over the kitchen at the award-winning Iorio, owned by Chris Thompson and Hilary Benson. The dinner will feature an eight-course modern American menu honoring Hawaii’s ethnic diversity while featuring handmade pasta and the freshest fish, beef, and produce from the Aloha State and Portland area. Serving a selection of craft cocktails to compliment the menu will be Dave Power, one of Hawaii’s most respected bartenders and owner of The Feral Pig on Kauai."