Pau Hana Patrol: Wolfgang’s offers hearty sampling of meat
Happy hour at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener on the third floor of the Royal Hawaiian Center is another reason for locals to rediscover Waikiki.
Dinner at this traditional steakhouse can be a pricey affair, so the “Lucky Seven Happy Hour” menu provides a fun opportunity to sample the restaurant’s prime beef. All food items on the limited pupu menu are only $7, and most of the dishes will suffice as a light meal. The steak and hamburger sliders are served two to a plate, with a heaping mound of shoestring fries.
Royal Hawaiian Center, Building C, Level 3, 1111 Kalakaua Ave., 922-3600, www.wolfgangssteakhouse.net
You can find better drink deals elsewhere — martinis, drink specials and wine are $7, ice-cold draft beer $5 — but you don’t go to Wolfgang’s for the booze. It’s all about the beef, baby.
Wolfgang’s dry-ages its meat in-house to achieve perfect tenderness and maximum flavor. Even the hamburger is a cut above what’s served at the burger boutiques around town.
Although a classic steakhouse in nature, with rich interior details, Wolfgang’s has an open-air design that encourages cooling cross-ventilation and a more casual vibe. (It is Waikiki, after all.) The bar area opens to the shopping center’s interior walkway. Absent views overlooking Kalakaua Avenue or Waikiki Beach, we settled for a still life of a large potted plant poised on a small patch of manicured lawn across the walkway and the sunset-lit peaks of the Pink Palace, which seemed close enough to touch.
Grab one of the many seats at the solid mahogany bar or sit at a table dressed in crisp white linens. The equally crisp wait staff in long-sleeved white dress shirts, bow ties and ankle-length aprons is efficient, friendly and attentive without being pesky.
There were more locals than tourists at the bar on a recent pau hana visit, and while there were some
T-shirts in the crowd, most of the patrons were dressed as if they had just come from the office or were starting out their night on the town. It’s definitely a place for grown-ups.
With all hands in a good mood — good beef and brews will do that do you — the place was noisy; I wouldn’t recommend it to those seeking a setting for intimate conversation.
We appreciated the stiff martinis and marveled at the rich flavor of the steak and hamburger sliders. The mini loco moco was doused in a savory gravy that left me craving more. The tenderloin kabob featured two meat sticks that seemed a little skimpy served on a scoop of rice. It’s common for cheaper cuts to be used for kabobs, but not here. Half expecting a fight, my teeth cut through the meat cubes like buttah.
Also on the “Lucky Seven” menu are ahi and steak tartare and lobster crostini. If you’re looking for something more substantial, “A Taste of New York” is offered for $34.95, which includes a 12-ounce New York sirloin, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and a sampling of Junior’s World Famous Cheesecake.
It’s not on the happy hour list, but be sure to order a side or three of Wolfgang’s sizzling, thick-sliced Canadian bacon for $4.95.
Mmm … bacon.
Don’t be scared away by the prospect of driving into Waikiki. With validation at the Royal Hawaiian Center’s parking structure, the first hour is free, and then it’s only $1 per hour for the next three hours — plenty of time to explore the new shops and street action after filling up on Wolfgang’s sliders.
—Christie Wilson / firstname.lastname@example.org