New Gastropub Opening in Kaimukī Next Week
Avenue’s Bar + Eatery hopes to fare better than Hale Ōhuna, which closed in this same space after three months.
Avenue’s Bar + Eatery, which opens next week, is serving gastropub fare like this Jidori fried chicken biscuit slider with corn-and-bacon gravy and pickled local okra.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
Four months after the sudden closure of Hale Ōhuna in Kaimukī in December, co-owner Kevin Hanney is opening a new concept in the same bi-level space on Wai‘alae Avenue.
Avenue’s Bar + Eatery—a modern urban gastropub, as it’s being billed—will feature handcrafted cocktails, a slew of craft beers, elevated bar snacks and a variety of entrées including sliders, burgers and sandwiches all on house-made breads. It opens on April 12 for dinner and late-night noshing only. (The name is possessive because, Hanney says, Avenue’s is 12th Ave Grill’s “little brother.”)
“I think what people really want is a very casual, very affordable place, a neighborhood watering hole,” Hanney says, noting most entrées here cost less than $20.
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Avenue’s executive chef is Robert Paik, a Northern California native and a graduate of Kapi‘olani Community College’s culinary program whose last post was in the kitchen at the exclusive, high-end Vintage Cave. Wahiawā-born Joe Arakawa is the pub’s bar manager, and he splits his time between Avenue’s and the U.S. Army Reserve, where he currently ranks as a sergeant.
Robert Paik, an alum of Kapi‘olani Community College’s culinary arts program, is Avenue’s executive chef.
The menu here is heavily influenced by Hanney, who has found success in the casual-meets-refined dishes and ambiance of 12th Ave Grill. His popular smoked ‘ahi spread, sold under the label of Kokohead Foods at various grocery stores around the state, is featured in the smoked ‘ahi-stuffed piquillo peppers ($12) and the open-faced smoked ‘ahi melt with Muenster cheese, Hau‘ula tomatoes and a piquillo coulis ($15). The Jidori buttermilk fried chicken with corn-and-bacon gravy, served as both a plate with smashed potatoes ($18) and as a slider between house-made biscuits ($6), has been a staple at 12th Ave Grill.
The menu also features burgers made from local beef and house-smoked bacon ($12); one with Ni‘ihau lamb, sun-dried tomatoes, house feta and a Meyer lemon aioli ($16); and the flavor-packed lemongrass pork burger with a touch of fish sauce and paired with Sumida Farms kim chee watercress and a spicy sambal aioli ($14). The burgers come with either a house salad or hand-cut fries with a house-made roasted sweet-pepper ketchup for $4. My advice: Opt for the fries. They’re perfectly cooked, just crispy and seriously addictive.
“I want the first thing people say is we have the best french fries,” Hanney says.
The open-faced smoked ‘ahi melt ($15) features smoked ‘ahi on house-made rye bread, with Muenster cheese, Hau‘ula tomatoes, sprouted daikon radish seeds and a piquillo coulis.
The Ho Farms lemongrass pork burger ($14) is full of southeast Asian flavors such as the kim chee watercress and sambal aioli.
The Ni‘ihau lamb burger ($16) features sun-dried tomatoes, house-made feta and a Meyer lemon aioli. The hand-cut fries are perfectly crisped and salty.
The house-made pastrami sandwich ($15) is a nice blend of salty pastrami, sweet ‘Ewa onions and a smooth mayo-ketchup dressing.
The house-made pastrami sandwich ($15) with aged Gruyere, caramelized ‘Ewa onions and a Hawaiian Island dressing on a house-made rye that’s buttered and grilled will likely be a quick favorite. The Maui-grown brisket is brined and dry-cured, giving it a salty, fall-apart texture that pairs perfectly with the crunchy, buttery bread.
For desserts, there are Mānoa chocolate beignets ($8) with a Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter dipping sauce and chocolate-caramel-Bourbon bacon popcorn ($8) that’s drizzled with even more chocolate.
Between 60 and 70 percent of the menu is locally sourced, from the Maui Cattle Co. beef to the okra from Ho Farms to the cremini mushrooms from Small Kine Farms in Waimānalo. Most of the breads and cheeses are house-made, too.
Bar manager Joe Arakawa prepares one of Avenue’s signature cocktails, The Earth + Sea. He most recently worked as a bartender at Mud Hen Water.
Avenue’s has several elevated bar snacks, including crispy-fried oysters, chipolte barbecue Jidori chicken wings and this bowl of duck-fat popcorn with chicharones ($6).
Don’t skip the bar, located on the first floor, which serves unique cocktails such as The Earth + Sea ($10), a smooth drink of an herbacious Fernet Branca tempered with tequila, Aperol, lemon, lime and salt. Pub snacks include chipotle barbecue Jidori chicken wings ($13), which are brined for a couple of days then marinated in compressed green apples in a thyme lemonade; duck fat popcorn ($6) flavored with a Tahitian lime zest and chicharones; and classic deviled eggs with white anchovies ($8).
The restaurant will be open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight from Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“I wanted this place to be very casual, not pretentious at all,” Hanney says. “It has a modern and warm ‘pub’ feel to it.”
Avenue’s Bar + Eatery, 3605 Wai‘alae Ave., 744-7567, avenuesbarandeatery.com
READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX