Will Avenue’s Bar + Eatery Become a New Favorite in Kaimukī?
Avenue’s Bar + Eatery is the most recent restaurant to take over this quirky space on Wai‘alae Avenue.
Avenue’s Bar + Eatery on Wai‘alae Avenue is a more casual offshoot of 12th Ave Grill, with gastropub dishes such as poutine fries, deviled eggs and piquillo peppers stuffed with the Grill’s famous smoked ‘ahi spread.
Photo: Kawehi Haug
When Kevin Hanney opened 12th Ave Grill, we knew from the beginning that the Kaimukī restaurant would be a longtime favorite.
And we were right.
We love it more now than ever, and—bonus!—we feel like we have even more to love with Hanney’s newest place, Avenue’s Bar + Eatery, which is like 12th Ave Jr.
Avenue’s, which replaced Hale Ōhuna, and before that, Salt Bar & Kitchen (also a Hanney concept), is essentially a more casual, less restaurant-y offshoot of 12th Ave Grill, which means it has all the gastro greatness of the Grill, on a much smaller scale.
The famously tiny space, with just a few tables and an eight-seat bar on Wai‘alae Avenue, has been infamously difficult to sustain. It’s one of those high-turnover spots, with a years-long reputation for seeing multiple openings and closings—some of the restaurant tenants only lasting a few months. But, if we had to make a prediction, we suspect Hanney might have cracked the code this time.
It’s got all the makings of a great neighborhood haunt: a full bar, good service and a solid menu of pub-food faves including sliders, burgers and drippy, meaty, cheesy, melty sandwiches (more on this later), twice-fried french fries and something called bacon-corn gravy. If that doesn’t keep the place full for a while, we give up.
Though Avenue’s is already reasonably priced, with most items on the menu priced below $20, happy hour is where it’s at, at least for first-timers, because you can sample a seriously comprehensive list of dishes, all for just a few dollars each.
Also, never leave Avenue’s without ordering the piquillo peppers stuffed with 12th Ave Grill’s famous smoked ‘ahi spread ($12). We love the stuff on just about anything, but encased in the perfectly roasted sweet red pepper? It’s our favorite smoked ‘ahi match yet.
Follow the peppers with a slider, either meatball and pepperoni, or burger and bacon jam. There’s a big plate of gravy-smothered french fries ($8)—called “poutine” on the menu, but they’re more like disco fries. Enter the bacon-corn gravy. It’s like Southern-style sausage grave meets turkey gravy and we like it a lot. The gravy fries are topped with a soft, white cheddar that’s made in-house by chef Robert Paik, formerly of Vintage Cave, who brings to the menu a not-too-bourgie sense of culinary finesse that makes Avenue’s one of the few places in this city actually worthy of the title “gastropub.”
For a bigger meal, get the Jidori buttermilk fried chicken ($18), covered with an ethereally light and crisp batter and served with the signature gravy, smashed potatoes, pickled okra and a biscuit. Our biscuit was one of the only low points in our meal—a dense little puck of unleavened dough, but, with enough gravy, who cares?
The other less-than-great dish was the chocolate beignets ($8). When we see beignets on a menu, we anticipate impossibly fluffy pillows of fried dough bathed in a cool veil of powdered sugar. What we got, instead, were triangles of puff pastry filled with local chocolate and under-fried, leaving on the plate a doughy and distinctly un-pillow-y hot mess. But then we tried the mango cake ($8) with whipped sour cream and completely forgot the beignets. No harm, no foul.
Next time, we’ll skip dessert and just get the pastrami melt ($15), with house-made pastrami, warm and gooey Gruyere and caramelized ‘Ewa onions for a perfect sweet finish.
Avenue’s Bar + Eatery, 3605 Wai‘alae Ave., happy hour daily from 5:30 to 6:30 and 10 p.m. to closing Thursday through Sunday. Happy hour pūpū $2-$13; burgers, sliders and sandwiches $5 to $16; entrees $15 to $18, 744-7567, avenuesbarandeatery.com