Eating is believing is a series spotlighting great deals on incredible food.
What: Those in the know get half off Vintage Cave Cafe's food on the lunch menu
Where: Vintage Cave Cafe, Ala Moana Center, Ewa Wing, Street Level
When: Daily 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Price: $9 - $19
Compare: A three-course Lunch Set B with pizza or pasta entree costs $28; upgrades are $4-18 before the discount
Fullness factor: 10 out of 10
If you've ever wanted to try Vintage Cave Cafe's exquisite Japanese take on Italian food but were afraid of breaking the bank, this is the time to do it. Every day until June 30, 2018, the restaurant is slashing 50 percent off your food bill when you mention this deal when you walk-in to dine (no reservations) between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. I saw the deal on a Facebook ad that has since vanished but was informed they are still honoring it through the entire campaign, you just need to mention it to your server when ordering.
There are three lunch sets to choose from. The salad set includes a power salad with your choice of protein, a bowl of onion soup and gelato for $9 (normally $18). The pizza or pasta set includes a Caesar salad or chicken pate with toast, onion soup and your choice from eight pastas and pizzas for $14 (normally $28). The entree set swaps out the pasta or pizza for an entree of chicken, veal or fish for $19 (normally $38).
Upgrades like switching out the Caesar salad for a beef carpaccio for just $1.50 (normally $3) or subbing your jidori chicken for a wagyu filet with marsala wine sauce for $9 (normally $18) are also eligible for the discount.
Make no mistake, the choice is staggering so browse the full menu before you go. Use the "More Menus" dropdown to find "Lunch Course Menus."
For my meal, I selected the "B" pizza set and opted for the Caesar salad, which was wedge of crisp baby romaine with an anchovy-forward Caesar dressing, some croutons and loads of Parmesan cheese.
My friend opted for the chicken pate with toast, defintiely the better option if you prefer something more substantial. More toasted baguette slices are available if three won't cut it. The set comes with a pot of berry compote to balance out the savory chicken spread which is not at all gamey, but rather pleasant. It might convince you to order a glass of white wine.
The soup course isn't all that remarkable. It's a solid take on a lighter French onion soup topped with a sprinkle of Grana Padano cheese, a hard cheese similar to Parmigiano Reggiano.
For my main course I wanted a pizza, but not just any pizza. I went for the full monty upgraded mushroom and truffle pizza topped with a poached egg and lots of cheese.
With the pizza upgrade, I would have normally paid $40 for my lunch set ($28 set + $12 upgrade) but with the 50 percent savings, it was only $20 – a full $10 less than the a la carte price of the truffle pizza at dinner. It's a STEAL.
My friend, an absolute pasta fiend, went to noodle town with the upgraded pescatore seafood linguine. It's surprisingly heavy on the seafood and has calamari, shrimp, clams and mussels all cooked perfectly in a garlicky tomato-based sauce. With the pasta upgrade, she would have normally paid $36 for her lunch set ($28 + $8) but with the discount, she paid $16 for her meal which is an incredible deal over the $28 a la carte price.
Service was top-notch when we dined in on a Friday at 11:30 a.m. I recently had dinner at the Vintage Cave Club in the bowels of Ala Moana Center (yes, it still exists) and would say service here echoes what they aim for down there. Our drinks were refilled frequently, the courses were precisely timed and overall, the staff went above and beyond to make sure we were enjoying our meal. When you factor this in, the value proposition skyrockets.
Although the Cafe is the more casual of the two Vintage Cave restaurants, it does not skimp on style or ambiance. Frescos and murals by Pow Wow cofounder Kamea Hadar and other pieces are on display throughout. The brick is the same found in the Club, sourced from a quarry in Pennsylvania and baked 50 times over to create the signature Vintage Cave look.
It's Ala Moana Center so there are thousands of parking stalls.
Vintage Cave Cafe
1450 Ala Moana Blvd. #1380
Ala Moana Center