Pau Hana Patrol: Whole Foods Windward Bar appeals to the senses
The Windward Bar at the spanking new Whole Foods Market in Kailua town is a comfortable place to hang out.
To be honest, though, it doesn’t really feel like a bar because, after all, it’s inside a grocery store — albeit one that sells primarily natural and organic food, sustainable seafood and non-animal-tested body care products.
There are only six or seven bar stools available at the curved counter, but that’s the best place to socialize with others while you sip your organic wine or quaff your locally brewed beer. You can also sit at tables and chairs in the store or on the lanai.
WHOLE FOODS MARKET KAILUA WINDWARD BAR
629 Kailua Road
Within a few minutes we were chatting with Kailua resident Bob Nardi, a retiree and Chicago transplant who’s already become a regular even though it’s been open only a few weeks.
Nardi frequents the bar with friends and likes to order an entire pizza, New York style, with extra cheese and sauce, along with local beer and wine.
“I like hanging out here,” said Nardi. “I get to meet interesting people, and it’s a nice addition to the town.”
The store usually has some upbeat tunes playing in the background, and the noise level is the typical hum you would find at a grocery store but you can hold a pleasant conversation.
Workers behind the bar were busy making pizza — so busy, in fact, no one looked up and asked whether we needed anything or wanted to place an order. After a while we figured out that you were supposed to place an order at the counter. It’s not like a bar, after all, where you wave at the bartender to order your drinks.
There’s an improvised wall made of canned coconut water drinks — and you want to line up on the bar side of it, closer to the lanai. There’s another register right next to that one, but that’s for people ordering pizzas or deli items.
Once at the register, workers were very helpful.
A bar menu offers some appetizers, including edamame ($2.99), spicy shrimp avocado roll ($3.99), a hummus plate ($4.99) and rainbow roll ($5.99). The prices were on par with what you might pay at a restaurant.
The hummus plate came with three dolmas, an artichoke dip, a few pita slices and hummus, of course. Everything was fresh, especially the hummus.
The sushi (you get four pieces) was also fresh, though it would have been nice to get a pour bottle of soy sauce rather than the packaged ones you would pick up to go.
Pizza by the slice ranges from $3 to $3.50, depending on which one you get, but during happy hour you can get a pint and slice of pepperoni or cheese for $5.
The pizza crust was crisp and the ingredients fresh.
You have several pre-made choices, including pesto tomato, vegetarian or pepperoni. Custom-made large pizzas start at $13.99 and up.
My glass of 2009 Morro Bay Chardonnay ($3.99 a glass) was crisp and refreshing, and I had no complaints about it at all. My friend was also happy with her glass of Apothic Red from California.
There wasn’t a selection of wines at the time we went — just one red and one white — but we didn’t mind. A greater selection would matter if we were to come back a few more times.
Beers on tap include Maui Brewing Co. selections.
You can also pick up food from the hot bar or salad bar or anywhere else in the store, pay for it and then bring it to the bar.
Though it’s not a bar, it does feel like a “happening place,” and the day we went, Fabio happened to be in the store, promoting his whey protein drinks.
It’s a place to see and be seen, dressed in your most sophisticated beachwear or Muumuu Heaven sundress.
Windward Bar at Whole Foods Kailua still has a few kinks to work out, but it was an enjoyable experience and we would go again. Where else can you enjoy a drink and then bring home the groceries?
– Nina Wu / firstname.lastname@example.org