Shared from Frolic Hawaii
flatbread

I first visited Dean & DeLuca at The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki with Frolic editor Mari Taketa to check out the happy hour scene. At the time, D&D’s second-floor wine bar was a hidden gem, proof that an oasis in Waikiki does exist. The calm, upscale ambiance paired with a bargain of a happy hour was appealing on its own.

Eater reported this summer that the New York-based food emporium was closing stores nationwide. I was a little worried, but I was comforted to learn Dean & DeLuca Hawaii is independently owned and operated by Yohei Takahashi, who also operates the stores in Japan, Singapore and Thailand. It’s not going anywhere from what I can tell.

That’s good news because the menu recently received an overhaul with an infusion of local ingredients during happy hour and a daily brunch service was added.

Dean & Deluca interior
The Artisan Loft

Brunch happens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and luckily, the valet-only parking deal remains the same as happy hour — it’s free with validation for three hours when you dine in.

Dean and Deluca brunch menuDean and DeLuca’s brunch menu is now available daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The menu is seasonal with changes anticipated every three to six months. You won’t find eggs Benedict, French toast or even continental breakfast staples for that matter. The five entrees, priced either $18 or $25, are a rather luxe affair with pops of caviar, truffle and wagyu mentioned throughout. Wine pairings are highly suggested under each entree and bottomless pineapple mimosas can be had for $20, a better deal than a single $12 mimosa.

During our hosted meal, we order the Kunoa beef wagyu loco moco ($25), one of the most popular dishes thus far, and the saffron bouillabaisse soup ($25).

brunch lavoshBrunch service starts with mango lavosh, fresh fruits and a mascarpone spread

Our meal begins with a complimentary platter of mango lavosh, berries and mascarpone cheese spread. The lavosh flat bread has a subtle flavor but the mascarpone is a game-changer, delivering a sweetness while remaining light. I’d want this over a traditional bread service any day.

Dean and Deluca loco moco
$25 Kunoa beef wagyu loco moco with wild bamboo rice, truffle sous vide egg, kalbi demi-glace and crispy garlic

The loco moco boasts a balance of sweet and savory flavors. There’s a generous portion of fork-tender Kunoa beef with a kalbi demi-glace that makes for a sweeter approach than your traditional brown gravy. The honey mustard seeds further add a nice texture to the dish. It’s served with bamboo rice which is stickier with a risotto-like quality. In all, I’m a big fan.

Saffron bouillabaisse$25 Saffron Bouillabaisse with Kona abalone, Kauai prawn, seared opakapaka and wild bamboo rice

Bouillabaisse is a traditional French soup comprising of a variety of seafood in a stock. Dean & DeLuca’s take is all about presentation: Made with Kona abalone, Kauai prawns and seared opakapaka that all rest on a bed of wild bamboo rice, the warm broth is then poured over tableside. Executive chef Kevin Carvalho is an avid fisherman and caught the menpachi and aweoweo used to make the aromatic seafood stock. He also uses a hot pohaku stone to cook the fish – a nod to the traditional style of Hawaiian cooking.

The savory broth is comforting and delicious; I let the crostini soak up all of its aromatic flavors. This light entree delivers in flavor but won’t leave you feeling like you ate an ocean of fish.

While D&D won’t be my new go-to brunch destination, it makes the perfect place for a relaxing, upscale brunch in a Waikiki.

If I had to choose between brunch and happy hour in the loft, I’m going for the latter. It’s been a year since our initial post about happy hour and I was curious to see if it would be crowded. Thankfully it is not — I had no trouble finding a table for two during my most recent happy hour experience.

Dean and Deluca happy hour menuHappy hour prices have gone up, but this is still a good deal for Waikiki

Prices have increased $5 across the board since publishing our $15 happy hour post over a year ago. It’s still reasonable for what you get considering you’re at The Ritz.

Choose from four dishes paired with a glass of white, red or sparkling wine for $20. They’re $20 each on the full-price dinner menu so when it’s happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., you effectively get a $15 glass of wine for free with your entree. The wines included in the happy hour deal are those that cost $15 or less.

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