It is with great honor to present to you Harry Lyons’ Bill of Fare: a guide to Hawaii’s finest restaurants, including dining tips, cartoons and recipes. Most of the restaurants of which are no longer in business, being this out-of-print book was published in 1972.
For those of you too young to remember or know, the late Harry Lyons was most famous as the editorial cartoonist for the Honolulu Advertiser from 1959 to 1979.
Of whom to note, if you remember Harry Lyons, then you probably also remember the late Corky Trinidad (I work with his son), who was the editorial cartoonist for the Honolulu Star Bulletin from 1969, all the way up to his passing in 2009. You can view Corky’s work at his tribute website here.
Harry eventually got into sports writing with his own column titled “Lyons Through His Teeth”. After Harry left the Honolulu Advertiser, he moved to Kona where he worked for West Hawaii Today, Kona’s daily “rag”. His section in that paper was titled “Lyons on the Loose”.
He would eventually have a falling out with West Hawaii Today, moving on to start his own monthly jocular magazine called Harry Lyons’ Kona Coast, which he ran alongside his wife Vonnie. Regular columns in this magazine included topics on local art, fishing and travel, written by Kona’s best experts in the field.
Kona Coast magazine at the time also served as the town “tattler”, meaning any gossip Harry found out about while “wala’au’ing” (talking story) with the locals in the bars, would end up being published. So, say he found out a local politician was having an affair with the hot cocktail waitress in the bar he was at, then yup, it would wind up depicted as a cartoon in his magazine. “Hey, hey, HEY! that’s me!” lol
Harry passed away in 1989 at the age of 59.
Being he never had children of his own, Harry Lyons’ work is difficult to find in one collective place. I had the good fortune to be given a copy of this absolutely fantastic book from Tasty Island reader Wally C. of Kona, who was a dear, personal friend of Mr. Lyons, and whom to this day is a huge fan and collector of his work. Other notable people to collect Harry’s work included President Lyndon B. Johnson and Peirre Salinger, former Press Secretary for John F. Kennedy.
Without further ado, let’s check out what’s in the book.
Harry Lyons’ Bill of Fare table of contents:
- Beethoven’s Fifth
- Blue Dolphin Room
- Buzz’ Original Steak House
- Buzz’ Steak N’ Lobster
- Byron II
- Chart House
- Chuck’s Steak House
- Club Jetty
- Coconut Palace
- Columbia Inn
- Coral Reef
- Crown Room
- Golden Cape
- Hanohano Room
- Hula Town
- J.J.s Broiler
- K.K. Tei
- Kemo’o Farm
- Kobe Steak House
- Kona Steak House
- Lahaina Fishmarket
- Landing, The
- Maile Restaurant
- Martin’s Mexican Dining
- Mister Christian’s
- Monarch Room
- Nick’s Fishmarket
- Outrigger Spaghetti House
- Pat’s at Punalu’u
- Pieces of Eight
- Pineapple Hill
- Pinky’s Broiler
- Polynesian Room
- Quee Queg
- Red Vest
- Rudy’s Italian Restaurant
- Ryu Teriyaki
- S.S. James Makee
- Ship’s Tavern
- Shores, The
- Sugar Cane Inn
- Sunset Lanai
- Sun Sun Lau
- Third Floor, The
- Top of the Ilikai
- Volcano House
- Waimea Village Inn
- Whale’s Tale
- Willows, The
- Winter Garden
- Wo Fat
- Everything you always wanted to know about wine
- Royal welcome
- Tips for tipplers
- Guess who’s coming to dinner?
I bet right now many of you old enough are probably saying, “I remember those places!” and “I proposed there!”. Or “That’s where I met my wife!”
What’s as notable in this fantastic dining guide of Hawaii eateries of yesteryear, aren’t just the fun-to-read, very thorough, well-written reviews by Harry himself, but also the cartoons he drew that depicts each restaurant in a whimsical light.
In this ongoing chronicle series of Harry Lyons Bill of Fare, I’ll share each review.
We start in alphabetical order today with the first review on Arthur’s, which to note is no longer in business. Foster Tower Hotel is now a residential property, with Cheeseburger Waikiki and several other retailers on the ground floor.
Enjoy the beginning of this long journey down memory lane with Hawaii’s beloved editorial cartoonist, Harry Lyons!
Foster Tower Hotel
2500 Kalakaua Avenue
The great dining room is almost hidden in the fast, noisy setting of one of the world’s busiest resort areas.
Its neighbor across Kalakaua Avenue is famed Waikiki Beach, where bikini’d bodies (instead of gourmet dishes) are roasted to golden perfection. ARTHUR’S massive rich wooden doors open into a world of quiet elegance, a fine restaurant completely insulated from the bustle outside.
It’s a haven of rich burgundy-wine red tones, glove-soft tufted leather banquettes and expensive woods. You walk through a little archway, past the more informal dining and cocktail lounge area, into the main dining room. Settle into your comfortable booth, order a cocktail from your black-jacketed waiter and study one of Hawaii’s truly outstanding bill of fare.
Take a moment to savor the atmosphere: ARTHUR’S has a Continental relaxed aura to it. Namesake Arthur Stuman has contributed many ornaments and artistic treasures from his travels. A magnificent chandelier of crystal and burnished gold is a focal point of the room. Beneath it an intricate hand-crafted glazed china bower of flowers perches at the apex of four velvet booths. Softly lit oil paintings in gilt frames reflect the rich wall coverings.
The red, gold-lettered menu has obviously been put together with care, impeccable taste and imagination.
A fabulous selection of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres starts you off in the right direction on a culinary trip to be remembered. If you fancy a cold appetizer, try the sliced smoked king salmon, Iranian Beluga caviar or a palate-refreshing dish like prosciutto and papaya. The hors d’oeuvres include escargots, marvelous crepes stuffed with ham and gruyere cheese and sauce Bechamel, Couquille St. Jacques or my most recent discovery, Bouchee a la Nantua. This one is listed as “a patty shell filled with bay shrimps in a savory grayfish (don’t they mean crayfish?) sauce,” but I can only call it a delicious array of seafoods in a rich cream sauce.
ARTHUR’S is one of a very select few Hawaii restaurants to earn Holiday Magazine’s top award for culinary excellence, and I’m sure they’ll continue to deserve it. One of the reasons is their soup and salad list, too often glossed over by other dining spots. Choose from ARTHUR’S salad maison, a special house plate that is perfectly presented in color and texture, hearts of palm or artichoke or Caesar salad.
I’m a soup buff, and I usually sate myself here with their silk-textured chilled vichyssoise, the green turtle soup with sherry or the creamy rich seafood bisque of shrimp and lobster.
There are a couple of dozen entrees of extraordinary beef, fish, fowl and lamb. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but my very personal choice is usually between ARTHUR’S fantastic steak Diane (I have the recipe here.); poulet au champagne, chicken in a sauce of champagne, cream and mushrooms; lobster thermidor or frog legs, Provencale; or a delectable selection for two (if I’m lucky that night) like entrecote of prime rib or chateaubriand.
Please don’t ask me about the desserts. They’ll put me on a scale. Ask that skinny waiter over there.
Ala Carte Entrees: $4.75 – $9.00
Coat and tie recommended.
1 oz. butter
1 8-oz. filet (butterflied)
1 oz. brandy
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. French Dijon mustard
2 oz. dry sherry wine
1/3 c. bordelaise sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper slightly your filet. Saute in hot skillet both sides to your liking.
Flame with brandy, and remove filet from skillet. Add shallots, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Deglaze with sherry wine. Stir thoroughly and simmer until reduced to one-half. Add bordelaise sauce. Stir firmly to obtain a smooth sauce. Pour over filet and serve with your favorite vegetable. Serves one.
~ Harry Lyons
*Arthur’s is NO LONGER IN BUSINESS.
Did you take notice of the price ranges?! “$4.75 – $9.00. Coat and tie recommended.” Ha ha ha!
It sounds like many of Arthur’s dishes were prepared with alcohol of some sort. I’m guessing Arthur’s was in the spot that is now occupied by Cheeseburger Waikiki, which just reopened this weekend after a major renovation. It’s really nice! Big screen TVs cover an entire wall near the front on Kalakaua Avenue.
I’m so making Arthur’s Steak Diane recipe. I love tableside dishes. I make a pretty kick @ss Steak Au Poivre! The secret is the Brandy (or Cognac if you can afford it). No scade ’em! The fiyah!
In the next installment, Harry Lyons reviews Beethoven’s Fifth restaurant, also a bygone Honolulu eatery formerly located on North King Street….