The first half of 2012 ushered in the official opening of not one, not two, but three gastropubs on the island. First, Dash. Then, REAL. Then Pint + Jigger. Miso & Ale is also a new roving pop-up gastropub, and there are rumors of at least one more brick-and-mortar gastropub to come within the year.
With equal emphasis on quality drinks (usually beer) and food, the gastropub idea has been around for a long time. It originated in England, when the concept of pub food grew from a single menu choice–likely a plouman’s lunch of cheese and bread, or possibly a raised pork pie, later, with the influx of former Colonials, curries–to an array of satisfying snacks and meals that pair well with beers.
Here, gastrostropubs are evidence of our island’s growing demand for an expanding diversity of quality food and drink. The cluster of gastropubs also showcase creative bartenders and chefs who have the chops to bring the people what they want, as well as introduce them to new or obscure gastronomic delights.
One of the best parts about about gastropubs: Always something new to try, both in beer and cuisuine.
Asian Flavah at Dash
Dash’s emphasis on “an Asian Pacific flair.” Think garlic bacon fried rice and pork chops, but also a lovely butter-fried mochi, a burger with brie and tomato chutney and a list of creative daily specials that may include oysters, yukari fried chicken with green tea waffles and those trendy bao sliders.
Located in the former American Savings Bank in Moiliili, the place looks like a sports bar and rather beheaves that way; they’ll serve you a buck of Coors Light if you really want one,They’re no elitists. Dash’s ambience and menu encourage those who feel more comfortable in local-style sports bars, allowing them to branch out to more adventurous beer, spirits and cuisine. Try a Deschutes Greenlake Organic Ale, Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale or a Dash specialty cocktail.
Keeping it REAL
Aside from figuring out how to explain the location of REAL, a pub in the old Tropics space, the selection of 250 beers, 35 whiskeys and decent variety of small and large plates alleviate any confusion as to what letters to capitalize. The almost-always packed gastropub also offers live music nightly on a small corner stage..
A strength of REAL is the beer sampler, which is a pre-selected variety of eight beers on tap in 2.5-ounce glasses. With so many beer choices, those on the indecisive side will be grateful for the variety, and the server will give you a list of the beers, as to not forget what you’re drinking as you get deeper into your sampler. With varieties from local breweries Maui Brewing and Hawaii Nui to beer lover favorites Coronado and Ballast Point, you won’t go thirsty.
As for the eats, you can do the trendy upscale comfort food with duck confit corn dogs, duck confit poutine (french fries gone upscale) or a manchego and chorizo grilled cheese sandwich, or keep it a bit more bar food-typical with pretzel bites in beer cheese sauce, mac ‘n’ cheese, deviled eggs or fish and chips. Pipikaula poke and hurricane mochi popcorn ice cream are there, too.
Polished and Poised: Pint + Jigger
Entering the converted Kochi space, patrons know that Pint + Jigger is professional and serious. With polished wood furniture, sleek booths, brick walls, the right amount of dim lighting, P+J looks like a well-oiled, long-standing establishment. And no wonder, with bar industry veterans Dave Newman (Nobu) and Jonathan Schwalbenitz (Murphy’s) behind P+J, as well as staff such as Imbibe co-owner Kyle Reutner. Aside from the now-requisite wall chalkboards displaying the available beers on tap, a dazzling cocktail menu. Among the ranks are the award-winning Smoking Gun (tequila, blood orange, lilikoi, smoked mac nut simple syrup and rim) and the Whiskey a ChoCho, a whimsical dipping tpgether of milk and dark chocolate into vanilla salt wshed down with rye whisky, Fernet Branca, fancy sweet vermouth, chocolate essence and bitters concoction. Being tongue-in-cheek, the beer menu lists the inventory by rank, with the green bottles and light beers under an appropriately-named category.
While the menu isn’t as extensive as REAL’s or Dash’s, there are recommended beer pairings with each plate. The Scotch egg might be paired with Erdinger Hefeweizen and the bacon-wrapped strawberries with Maui Bikini Blonde for example. Oatmeal stout burgers seem to be the most popular, the new hickory-smoked sausage sliders with jalapeño and cilantro are moist and melty, the sweet potato dumplings in brown butter sage sauce combine food trends that work well together.