Downtown Honolulu’s Best New Sunday Brunch Is a Hidden Surprise
Proof Social Club's Sunday brunch delivers rustic twists on French, Spanish and modern American favorites.
Down a nondescript alley off Fort Street Mall lies an unexpected surprise: Downtown’s best new brunch spot. Proof Public House on Chaplain Lane, known pre-pandemic as a neighborhood and college bar, changed owners in December 2019. Rebranded as Proof Social Club, it’s become an eclectic, comfortable place to get generous gourmet sandwiches and salads or pizza and beer after work—and since July, a new Sunday brunch with rustic interpretations of French, Spanish and modern American dishes.
We stop in for a taste and start with the French Peasant charcuterie board ($13), an assortment of Italian prosciutto, Genoa salami, Gruyère cheese, roasted garlic butter, habanero and poblano butter, strawberry kiwi jam, fresh bread, and pickled onions and pickles. Everything but the charcuterie is made in-house, including the bread. I can’t get enough of the butter, which is whipped with herbs and spices, then chilled to allow the flavors to spread. It goes wonderfully with the perfectly crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside bread and lightly spiced, crunchy house pickles.
The menu, we learn, is inspired by cook and kitchen manager Louis Miller’s time in Europe. Miller joined the crew after general manager Jasmine Mancos, a former bartender, and local musician Andy Catanzariti opened the new Proof. “When we’d stay at bed and breakfast places, we’d have this French peasant breakfast. Jasmine and I both spent some time studying abroad in Spain, so that’s where a lot of the Spanish influence comes from,” Miller says. “I remember gazpacho saved me, quite a few days.”
Gazpacho is on the menu at brunch, but the most beautiful dish, and the second most popular, is the Avo Toast ($12, add bacon or an egg for $2 extra), a grilled slice of large house loaf topped with avocado, cherry tomatoes, pickled red onions and edible flowers. It’s big enough to share, vegan-friendly and simply delicious, the fatty avocado melting into the crispy bread, with bright, contrasting flavors in each bite.
The most-ordered dish at brunch is the B.E.C. (bacon, egg and cheese) sandwich, but we opt for the Madame Egg ($13)—a nod to the French open-faced egg sandwich, the Croque Madame—and have zero regrets. Full of things that make breakfast the most important meal of the day, it’s our favorite dish: fluffy eggs baked neatly in a cup just enough to leave the yolk runny, provolone cheese and savory bacon jam that we could eat by the spoonful, all on a crispy ciabatta loaf. A side of juicy, savory, chilled and marinated champignon mushroom antipasto ties everything together.
We also try the Midwestern Welcome ($27), a breakfast pizza topped with mozzarella, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns and white gravy. It’s filling but bland, though a nice accompaniment to the Blood of Chris ultra-spicy bloody mary ($11). Other cocktails include the classic mimosa ($13 for the first one, $3 for each additional), Flowers Among Us ($12), a sweet mix of Prairie Organic Vodka and house-infused lavender lemonade, and Born in the Back of a Pink Cadillac ($11), a bubbly sparkling wine cocktail with Seeker Rosé for those who love champagne.
The Baby Clemenpie ($22) sounds intriguing—a sweet pizza with sweet cream sauce, ricotta cheese, fruit and lavender syrup glaze that Assistant Manager Jasper Kinnear dreamed up and named for his baby daughter, Ruth Clementine. But it’s not available during our visit, so we’ll save it for next time.
There are plans to expand brunch to Saturdays with more food. In the meantime, lunch and dinner feature pastas, salads and creative pizzas like the French Onion (yes, it tastes like French onion soup), complete with croutons and au jus. If you like European-inspired food that’s a little off the beaten path, Proof Social House is worth venturing in and staying awhile.