In the Mix

Wood & Bucket goes 'Exotic' for holidays

December 18th, 2015
PHOTOS BY JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COMAll four of the dishes served during Wood & Bucket's special off-menu holiday tasting included an ingredient guests weren't told about until after they'd eaten everything.

PHOTOS BY JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COM

All four of the dishes served during Wood & Bucket's special off-menu holiday tasting included an ingredient guests weren't told about until after they'd eaten everything.

Wood & Bucket hosted a holiday party with a twist on Thursday, luring guests to the lobby of the Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel with the promise of “Exotic Meats & Whiskey” — then announcing the special off-menu tasting would include four secret ingredients that wouldn’t be identified until everything was served.

Executive chef Winston Madayag was obviously enjoying the moment, steadfastly refusing to give even the slightest clue as to what the secret ingredients were. Each of the four dishes were labeled innocently enough:

» Seafood gumbo with rice

» Jalapeño poppers with Brie and balsamic reduction

» BBQ on steamed bun

» Lettuce wraps with tofu and sweet chili sauce

No problem, right? Chef Madayag wouldn’t serve up something too crazy… would he?

To help calm the nerves, Wood & Bucket staff also served up a twist on the traditional whiskey sour, but the real action was away from the food station and over at the main bar, where this reporter found a nice variety of American whiskey and Scotch available.

For those who weren’t ready to dive right in, there were fresh oysters on the half shell laid out alongside a fruit and cheese platter.

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Once a nice crowd had gathered and it looked like everyone had gotten the chance to sample all four dishes, Chef Madayag stepped up to reveal the complete ingredients in each one.

Seafood gumbo with rice… and snapping turtle.

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Jalapeño poppers with Brie and balsamic reduction… and alligator tail.

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The BBQ on steamed buns was made out of rattlesnake.

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Those cubes in the lettuce wraps with sweet chili sauce weren’t just tofu… they were Rocky Mountain oysters.

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Of the four plates, my favorite was the gumbo. Slices of jalapeño gave the dish a little kick, and the turtle was similar in taste and consistency to shrimp.

The rattlesnake wasn’t that bad either, as long as you could get past the chewiness of the meat. This one actually paired very well with the Angel’s Envy bourbon I’d ordered. I had no problem downing the alligator tail, either. Tasted just like bacon!

The Rocky Mountain oysters, I’m sorry (not sorry) to say, ended up in the trash after just one bite. Even without knowing what it was, I knew something in that dish had the wrong texture. It almost felt like I was chewing on cartilage, which isn’t my thing.

That one unpleasant surprise aside, Thursday’s tasting was a fun way to see Chef Madayag showcase his skills while truly enjoying himself in the process.

Wood & Bucket will offer a decidedly less adventurous menu next week for the Christmas holiday, with a special menu inspired by “home cooking and family” that will be available from Christmas Eve through Dec. 29. Priced at $35, the four-course meal includes a glass of champagne and the following:

» Chef’s Christmas Soup with kale, white kidney beans, potato and Andouille sausage

» Caprese salad with Nalo Farms baby arugula, Kamuela Farms tomato and burrata

» Choise of grilled bone-in ribeye with roasted potato and grilled asparagus or pan-seared salmon with brussel sprouts in balsamic reduction

» Chef’s Cream Puff with Tahitian vanilla ice cream

Wood & Bucket is located in the lobby of the Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel, 2375 Ala Wai Boulevard, and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to midnight. Walk-ins only; no reservations. Call (808) 922-4744.

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Jason Genegabus has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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