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First Look: Eight50 Craft Beer Lounge Scores with Drinks

An upscale craft beer lounge opens in Leeward Bowl.


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Photo: Gus Downes

 

To responsibly enjoy the new upscale venture in the Leeward Bowl complex in Pearl City, either bring a designated driver, or leave your credit cards at home. The cheapest draft beer is $7, cocktails start at $9, and you’re going to want to try them all.

 

The space, for now, remains unfinished. There was supposed to be a $7,000 projector put in to take advantage of the high ceilings, but the unlucky person installing it dropped it. The lounge is waiting on new pieces of art. The DJ booth was piled high with congratulatory flowers from family and friends.

 

But back to the booze. What initially stood out at the Friday media preview/public opening was the sheer volume of beers. There’s a refreshing, and deliberate, avoidance of the standard Bud Light/Heineken selection you can get at the bar on the other side of the bowling alley.

 

The beers are carefully chosen, and all solid. But the standouts are the cocktails. Specifically, the ones made with rye whiskey. A flamed orange peel makes the signature Manhattan fruity without being cloying. The Sazerac cannot be recommended enough. It accomplishes the oft-difficult task of making an alcohol-forward cocktail that’s balanced and not too sweet.

 

The food, however, needs work. The garlic aioli doesn’t complement the ‘ahi carpaccio, so you end up with a bite of unsalted fish, then an aftertaste of garlic aioli, with nothing melding the flavors together. While the seasoning of the deep-fried tofu ‘ahi patties worked, the texture was rubbery. The beef tenderloin was perfectly cooked, then smothered in a completely unnecessary balsamic drizzle that overwhelmed everything good about the meat. Even the blue-cheese bacon burger missed the mark with an over-seasoned patty, since the blue cheese and bacon are already salty.

 

Aside from the culinary missteps on opening day, it’s clear everyone cares. The bartenders make a mean drink, and the owners have lofty ambitions. Here’s hoping they pull it off.

 

850 Kamehameha Highway, Pearl City, facebook.com/eight50hi

 

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