Pau Hana Patrol: Comfy vibe at The Mill
BY STEFANIE NAKASONE / email@example.com
I read the Yelp reviews. I heard comments from friends. I walked by a few times. Every bit of info I had gleaned about The Mill Bar & Grill suggested that I bypass this place. But there was one overriding reason I decided to give this open-air sports bar a try: There are few watering holes near my home in Central Oahu, much less ones that are not considered “sketch.”
THE MILL BAR & GRILL
Mililani Shopping Center, 95-221 Kipapa Drive
Located in the Mililani Shopping Center, where the old Waldo’s Great Flying Pizza Co. operated, the Mill opened last spring and has become known in the area as a late-night hot spot with lots of live local entertainment attracting crowds that occasionally can get out of hand. But during pau hana time, I found it to be a nice place to kick back with a pizza and a few drinks without the pretentiousness that can be found at many town bars.
I decided to make my first visit during a recent Monday night football game.
I also brought my dad, a lover of football and beer. Within just a few minutes, he said the Mill was “my kind of place” and made the following observation: It’s a great place for guys who like to drink in their garage but don’t want to make their own pupu.
In fact, the bar is set up kind of like a garage, with a concrete floor and roll-up doors at the entrance and the exit to the back patio. The look is not aesthetically impressive, but really, does a bar need to be with the allure of seven TVs and a cool Central Oahu breeze?
After seeing 20 scattered patrons and only one waitress/bartender on duty, I immediately thought back to those Yelp reviews about bad or slow service. But no more than a minute after sitting at a table near the back corner of the covered seating area, we were handed menus and ordered drinks. A few minutes later another waitress appeared and was attentive to us and the other customers all afternoon.
Happy-hour drink specials are limited to just $1 off beer and wine; however, the rum and Coke I ordered ran me $6.50, an acceptable nondiscounted price.
A pitcher of domestic beer was $10, and the ever-popular table-top beer dispenser — 100 ounces usually meant to be shared — was $21 (domestic) and $25 (imported).
My major gripe with the Mill’s happy hour is the lack of food specials. I paid $16 for a hand-tossed supreme pizza that was delicious and large enough for four people. The Mill also offers more adventurous pizzas, such as a spinach and artichoke with Alfredo sauce and a Thai peanut chicken. Those sound so enticing I will want to make a return trip.
We also tried the boneless chicken wings ($10), which came swimming in a hot barbecue sauce that, while tasty, overpowered the 10 larger-than-bite-size pieces. But the meat was moist, and we liked what we could taste of the seasoning on the chicken. There is a choice of six sauces, all made in-house.
Other appetizers, all under $10, include calamari, seasoned french fries, Thai peanut chicken skewers, nachos with choice of meat and pipikaula.
Owner Jadd Matsuda said the Mill is like any new business, always changing menu items and drink specials “to see what works.”
Overall, I’m glad I didn’t write off the Mill. It may not be for everyone, but for my friends and family it could serve as an occasional alternative to the garage or carport.