Not your grandfather’s club sandwich. Part two of a two-part series (read Part One here)

WITH A GROWING POPULATION OF CLOSE TO 100,000 INDIVIDUALS, THE ISLAND OF O‘ahu is ever-bustling with activity, yet enter into the island’s most elite private membership clubs and suddenly you’ll find yourself in a whole new world where only a select few are welcome.

The Pacific Club and Oahu Country Club are both situated in the heart of Honolulu and offer its members a variety of amenities, which meet business, social, athletic and dining needs. The Pacific Club, located on Queen Emma Street, is regarded as the oldest private club of its kind west of the Mississippi, while Oahu Country Club, nestled between the lush Nu‘uanu Valley mountains, is one steeped in history and tradition.

“We have the oldest 18-hole golf course on the island. Our club is the home base for the Manoa Cup and has been for the past 104 years, says Oahu Country Club general manager Peter Hansen.

And since its inception in 1851, The Pacific Club is ever-evolving and always changing with the times. Most recently, the club underwent a makeover with the premise of updating the dining room. The existing bar that sits outside the dining room was resurfaced with basalt veneer stone and glass tile. Other surfaces were refreshed as well, including the woodwork and carpet (replaced with carpet tile), while several other signature elements were added, new chairs being one of them.

There’s a certain standard that must be met when it comes to private membership clubs, and The Pacific Club and Oahu Country Club put their own unique dining experiences at the forefront.

“Exceptional dining is a main priority here,” says Eric Leterc, executive chef of The Pacific Club. “We always work to please the palates of all our members with our three dining facilities, Mangos Bar, Tiare Terrace and the Main Dining Room.

With the refurbishing of the club also came the opportunity for Leterc to improve the menu in the Main Dining Room. Classical French cuisine is the basis of Leterc’s culinary creations with hints of local flair infused into every dish.

“Our guests look for high quality and taste in our cuisine. A lot of members work out business deals here, and good food and service is a plus in securing that deal.”

Born and raised in Annecy, France, Leterc has 34 years of experience in the culinary field, having cooked for A-list individuals such as Madonna, Bill Gates, Jimmy Buffet and more. Leterc takes pride in his edible works of art, which lead in presentation and taste.

“Kona Kampachi Carpaccio ($14) is an appetizer which features thin, fresh slices of Kampachi from the Big Island served with a daikon salad with a bit of shredded beets to give it a pop of color. Then we drizzle a yuzu wasabi vinaigrette, which people love.”

“What we’re trying to do is to serve lighter and healthier portions. Now we have a big demand for gluten-free food,” he adds.

The Pacific Club’s broiled Colorado lamb chop ($44), accompanied by cumin quinoa, a Mediterranean vegetable stew and olive jus is a prime example of a guilt-free dinner option that doesn’t sacrifice on taste.

“What we’re really known for is our extensive wine collection. With 6,000 bottles to choose from we have the largest wine list in the state,” Leterc states.

As for Oahu Country Club, executive chef Alfred Cabacungan and executive sous chef Dwight Yoshioka heat up the kitchen and marry French culinary techniques with Pacific Rim flavors.

“Here at Waolani Windows Main Dining Room and downstairs at Mauka Grill, we customize our dishes to our members’ liking,” Yoshikawa says.

“Incorporating local products from local farms is ideal and often times the produce is picked on the same day that it reaches your table,” Hansen adds.

Waolani Windows is more of an upscale dining experience, while Mauka Grill appeals to patrons who choose a more casual and comfortable environment.

“We have a wide spectrum of guests that we have to appeal to, so our menu is very broad,” Hansen says.

Oahu Country Club’s main dining room draws in a large dinner crowd with its complete menu ranging from starters, sashimi, salads, exquisite entrees and desserts. Yoshioka recommends beginning your meal with Madagascar prawns ($19), poached in lemon broth, and served with grilled eryngii mushrooms and English pea coulis. Then follow that up with grilled beef tenderloin and butter-poached spiny lobster tail ($49) as a main entree.

“Twenty-three-karat gold leaf accentuates this dish, and it’s edible” he confirms, “A veal reduction pairs with the beef and lemon-chive nage adds to the lobster. The dish also consists of creamy potatoes and seasonal baby vegetables.”

Finally, a sweet ending is found in Oahu Country Club’s signature ice cream cake ($5), presenting diners with three layers of chocolate, pistachio and rum raisin ice cream.

“We are constantly improving our menus—breakfast, lunch and dinner—to keep our guests entertained,” Hansen says. “The feeling of ‘ohana is everything here. With a little more than 1,000 members, our membership is very friendly and welcoming.

The Pacific Club is located at 1451 Queen Emma St. For hours and more information, call 536-0836

Oahu Country Club is located at 150 Country Club Road. For hours and more information, call 595-6331