Penfolds Shiraz & Vanuatu Grass Fed Beef
First, check out my latest Forbes articles on five restaurants in southwest France and reviews of 124 wines from vintage 2020.
Now, the Pacific region …
Almost two years ago I received an email asking if I’d like to manage an infrastructure project in the Solomon Islands, east of Papua New Guinea and northeast of Australia. I said yes and have been doing so—remotely—since.
Just over a week ago I flew into the Solomon Islands where I will live and work for three months. The Solomon Islands includes nine main island groups and almost a thousand smaller isles. The capital city is Honiara on the island of Guadalcanal, where pivotal battles took place during World War Two.
After a bout of flu, I recovered this weekend and recalled how an acquaintance mentioned there is a French restaurant in the city.
I took a cab there. Most cab rides take between two and six minutes along the single road in Honiara, and cost the equivalent of between one and two U.S. dollars.
Online, the restaurant is called Club Havanah. However the menu calls the restaurant Le Cinquieme. And cab drivers know it as associated with Honiara Hotel.
The restaurant structure is grand and ancient and beautiful—all wood with an open air side, ceiling fans above, orange lanterns, large tables, a live musician and staff—in true Solomon Islands fashion—exceedingly kind and soft spoken.
Dish and Wine.
I ordered Duo de Boeuf et Langouste. This is a grilled, natural grass fed beef fillet from the island nation of Vanuatu, together with a half crayfish tail—served with a spicy pepper sauce.
With this, I paired a bottle of 2021 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz from Australia.
The restaurant atmosphere was slightly otherworldly. I had expected a small room on the second floor of modest sized brick building. Far from it, this space has a large, intricate and airy wooden interior reminiscent of Vietnamese architecture, while the gloriously saturated colors of dusk light reminded me of a dinner on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island during the churning glow of sunset.
The food was delicious, the wine rich and satisfying. The portion was huge, so dessert was out of the question.
Insider Angles –
I only recently arrived in the Solomon Islands. The people are amazingly friendly. The road potholes are ample. The short bursts of torrential rainfall are uncanny. The skies are moody and lively and change by the minute. Local organic fruits—pineapple, melon, watermelon—are delicious. Apparently some outer islands, as I will discover, are beautiful with imposing jungle coated mountains and huge lagoons.