Vintage Caveby Roberto Viernes photography by Olivier Koning
This Honolulu wine cellar is an oenophile’s dream come true.
ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEXT LEVEL OF WINING, DINING, ENTERTAINING AND PRIVACY IN HAWAI‘I? IF YOU ARE, YOU MUST step into the Vintage Cave Honolulu. With all due respect to Alan Wong’s Amasia on Maui and 53 By The Sea at the old John Dominis location, this is perhaps the most highly anticipated opening in Hawai‘i for 2012, and for good reason: ambiance, exclusivity and quality.
Vintage Wine Cave is located within Shirokiya at Ala Moana Center, a very unassuming place to find a multi-million dollar private facility. But don’t expect a huge sign to guide you to the door. This is a destination for those “in the know,” as there is almost zero outside exposure to the Cave. There is one small door within the store and a private members-only entrance on the ground floor. Privacy and exclusivity are the Vintage Cave’s hallmarks. Once you pass through this door, you are immediately transported from Hawai‘i to the cellars of the Old World, with its arched hallways reminiscent of grand cellars in France and Italy. More than 150,000 hand-made bricks from Pennsylvania—laid by specialists from the Czech Republic—line the walls and ceilings, while Italian granite tiles rest beneath your feet. The walls feature an astonishing array of original pieces from such masters as Zhou Ling, Anton Molnar and Pablo Picasso. The artwork in the Cave alone can elevate the senses.
A continued look brings your eyes to three private rooms on the far side of the main dining salon where members and their guests can relax and enjoy without anyone but the service attendants ever knowing they were there.
Custom-designed Swarovski crystal chandeliers that were assembled by hand in Japan christen each room. Each one being themed with a color of wine: deep red Burgundy, Syrah purple and a green that reminds me of Riesling. In another corner of the main hall sits “Sommelier’s Court” where members can purchase wines for their cellars or taste the sommelier’s most recent selections from a custom-made Cruvinet system served in Riedel glassware. The wine list is a creme de la creme, sommelier’s dream, dominated by only the wine world’s finest such as Petrus, DRC, Latour, Lafite, Margaux, Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Dalla Valle and Araujo. Each member has their own secure cellar in an adjoining room kept at a constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the level of membership of the individual, their cellar can be a dozen bottles and more.
Or members can simply purchase the wine for dinner, which is under the guidance of chef Chris Kajioka. Kajioka is a young local super talent who brings a world of experience from The Dining Room at The Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and most recently, Per Se in New York.
There will be only one seating for dinner with a capacity of only 24 seats and your choice of either eight or 12 courses a la. French Laundry. Kajioka has been given carte blanche when it comes to the cuisine and he intends to use it. He will be utilizing the best local ingredients that are grown exclusively for him under as well as sourcing literally the most premium ingredients from around the globe: Russian caviar, white Alba truffles, Story Hill Farms poultry—you name it, he will source it. Even the plate ware is all custom-made by hand in the Pacific Northwest specifically for Vintage Cave.
With little encouragement, Kajioka intimated to me that he would be kidding himself if he wouldn’t admit to shooting for Michelin Star-level quality food. With his skills, the cutting-edge technology in the kitchen and the quality of ingredients, the recipe is there for greatness.
But I am afraid my words do the Vintage Cave Honolulu little justice. The fabulous attention to detail, the quality of fabrication and elements used therein are nothing short of world-class. The result is an elevation and transportation of the senses that transcends description. It is like trying to describe Picasso’s eighteen drawing study Les Deux Femmes Nues in 600 words or less. If you are lucky enough to get in, you’ll get a chance to do that too. They are on display in the Vintage Cave Honolulu— truly amazing. www.vintagecave.com