Night Shift

Even though there are undiscovered places to eat and drink all over the island, sometimes it’s hard to break away from a place you love. Then again, sometimes it’s even harder to get back often enough to a beloved establishment. Consider Side Street Inn on Hopaka Street. Since visiting back in April, it’s a rare day that we’re not trying to think of some excuse to return, yet we haven’t quite made it. There’s always something–traffic’s too bad in the area, it’ll be too crowded, we’re ready to drop dead of exhaustion, there’s no way we can afford to eat out and put gas in the car in the same week, etc,.

But we think about it, so much so that it ruined a recent trip to San Francisco, home of some of the most respected restaurants in the world. Every meal brought a reminder that the food wasn’t as good, or as cheap or as enormously portioned as Side Street. And yet we still haven’t made it back. There’s always another assignment, another engagement, a family emergency or the charkas aren’t properly aligned with our chi and we need to meditate to excise our personal demons.

So imagine our delight at the discovery of Fort Street Bar & Grill. They’ve been there for eight years now, but we can’t be blamed for missing it–the place is tucked away in the unassuming Topa Financial Center, where you wouldn’t know there’s anything going on that didn’t involve suing somebody. Come to think of it, we want to sue people for not telling us about this place earlier.

Owned by Colin Nishida, of Side Street Inn, Fort Street Bar & Grill has a scaled-down version of the Side Street menu, including the ever-popular Pan Fried Island Pork Chops and wing zings, otherwise known as the best buffalo wings on the entire island. Even those who don’t want a little death and dismemberment with their food have some options, such as the sauteed mushrooms, soy beans, french fries and mac salad. Even if you weren’t planning on eating, it’s impossible to resist once climbing the staircase, where you can immediately smell great things coming from inside. Besides, it’s the kind of place that shoves an enormous basket of popcorn in front of you before you’ve even had a chance to look at the menu. Come hungry.

But of course, “bar” gets listed in the name before “grill,” and they have one. It’s small but comfortable, though the beer line tends to run along the popular and local styles, with nothing on draft. So if you’re hooked on Dead Guy Ale from Side Street visits, you’re out of luck here. If you’re a beer person, expect to get something that has a variation of the word “light” attached.

If there’s a spot that epitomizes the pau hana spot, it should probably be this place. The biggest problem are the hours, as the bar portion is only open Wednesday through Friday, from 3pm until “closing,” (the kitchen opens at four and usually closes around seven.)

Or perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, if the hours were more accessible, we suspect many of us would be calling it a day a little earlier.

Fort Street Bar & Grill

745 Fort Street, Topa Financial Center lobby

Getting in: Wed–Fri, 3pm–closing (lunch from 11am–2pm)

Dress code: Work wear

Soundtrack: Sports and sports chatter, karaoke

Sightings: Downtown types, the odd journalist

Signature drink: Lychee Martini