First Look: Brew’d Craft Pub in Kaimuki
With 16 beers on tap and hundreds more in bottles, it’s almost too much. Almost.
Photos: Kawehi Haug
With the term “gastropub” being thrown around so frequently these days, you’d think that any bar that serves food is a gastropub. It’s not. Side Street Inn is not a gastropub. It’s a bar that also happens to make great food. To be called a gastropub—and we might be begging for a hot debate when we say it—the “pub” element needs to be there. The English-kind-of-pub element. The fish-and-chip, Joe-Strummer-meets-Billy-Elliot, oi!-oi!-oi!-Manchester-United kind of pub element.
So when we hear the word “gastropub,” we want to see lots of wood and maybe some stone, lots of beer-centric “vintage” wall art, a big central bar (with purse hooks, please) and distinct lack of fluorescent light.
Brew’d Craft Pub, which opened just over a month ago in Kaimuki, fits the gastropub classification—even more than its flagship sister location, Real A Gastropub. What Real lacks in ambiance and overall pubbiness, Brew’d has in spades. The place looks like a pub, not a bar: the wood-covered walls, the focal bar, the burlap-sack-covered tables squished into a much smaller space than is comfortable for most people, and, of course, hundreds of beer varieties.
With 16 beers on tap and hundreds more in bottles, it’s almost too much. Almost. With the help of the super savvy staff, picking a beer you’ll like is a relatively easy task, and if you’re not sure, you can sample it for about $4. And if you’re really not sure, you can be sure of this: a cocktail, cleverly named the Half A Weizen, made with hefeweizen, St. Germain and fresh pressed orange juice. It is THE drink of summer. A bright, crisp take on the German radler, this version is liquid perfection. Our only complaint? That it doesn’t come in a half-liter hefeweizen glass. It really should. The little half-pint is just a cruel tease.
Deviled eggs and candied bacon (left) and pork adobo poutine.
Brew’d’s menu is a solid list of what is now referred to as “high-end” pub grub. It’s good beer-drinking food refined at the hands of a real chef—in this case, Don Takeya, who trained with April Bloomfield at New York’s The Spotted Pig. The candied bacon is tender, fatty and sweet in all the right ways and a good match for the truffled crab deviled eggs. The eggs are decently deviled, though we wouldn’t have known there was crab in it if it didn’t say so in the name. Some of the food is trying too hard, like the popcorn shrimp, which is literally shrimp on popcorn, and the DLTA sliders with duck confit, arugula, tomato confit and avocado mousse. It’s almost a passable stand-in for a classic BLT, but we missed the texture and crunch of fresh veggies and crisp bacon. To make up for it, we added the pepperoncini garnish to our sandwiches to give them the bite we wanted.
The duck confit sliders (left) and popcorn shrimp.
The dish we’ll be thinking about until we go back (if we ever stop thinking about that cocktail): the pork adobo poutine. In Honolulu, there’s more “poutine” on local menus than we can shake a hockey stick at, but then again, there isn’t. Because poutine without cheese curds is just disco fries. Not the same thing! This poutine, though certainly a divergent version of the Canadian favorite, is the closest thing to the real stuff that we’ve had around town. And even if it didn’t carry the title of “poutine,” as a plate of fries, gravy, cheese and pork, it makes a good meal. And at midnight, with a couple of fancy-pants beers? It makes a great meal.
Brew’d Craft Pub, beers from $6 to $38, appetizers and small plates from $4 to $14, menu served until 1:30 a.m., 3441 Waialae Ave., (808) 732-2337, brewdcraftpub.com