Grind Time: Eight50 reopens at Leeward Bowl
BY JASON GENEGABUS / firstname.lastname@example.org
Leeward Oahu whiskey nerds had to be a little worried when eight50 shut its doors earlier this summer. With easily the most extensive bourbon and Scotch list on that side of the island along with a formidable beer list, the bar’s departure was a definite loss for the community.
Turns out all the drama came about due to five — yes, five — seats at the main bar.
As part of Pearl City’s Leeward Bowl complex, eight50 underwent significant renovations before its grand opening in February. Part of that process for alcohol-serving establishments includes updating the Honolulu Liquor Commission of any changes made to a licensed space, and it appears that’s where owner Richard Akimoto slipped up. After rebuilding the bar, there were now five seats near eight50’s main entrance that weren’t there before — and therefore not covered by Leeward Bowl’s liquor license.
Once the issue came to light, Akimoto decided he didn’t want to run the risk of fines and shut down operations while he got his paperwork in order. When eight50 officially celebrated its grand reopening on Friday after a soft reopening in July, it was with a nearly all-new staff, including a new general manager and chef.
For general manager Eric Smythe, eight50 presents an opportunity to let classic cocktail recipes shine. Having arrived in Honolulu in May after a stint in Las Vegas, the Florida native said the bar’s drink list would include many tried-and-true drinks that should keep customers satisfied.
With all the whiskey on the shelf, it’s no surprise the cocktails utilize the brown stuff. Smythe whipped up a traditional Whiskey Smash using Four Roses bourbon that was just as refreshing as a mojito, just with a little more oak flavor. His eight50 Old Fashioned, made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, was elevated with the inclusion of black walnut bitters and simple syrup made with brown sugar.
That’s the eight50 Old Fashioned on the left and the Whiskey Smash on the right.
Here’s the current beer lineup at eight50, as of last week’s grand reopening.
On the food side, the addition of chef Cef Maduli is a homecoming of sorts. He’s now part of the Leeward Bowl team full-time after serving as a food and beverage consultant about seven years ago and said he plans to elevate the quality of food coming out of the eight50 kitchen.
Friday’s grand reopening party featured a carving station with sea salt-crusted beef tenderloin, plus fresh oysters mignonette, crab cakes with yuzu and fried caper aioli, kalua duck with poha berry and sesame ginger jam and prime rib and foie gras sliders with a creamy truffle pepper aioli.
Other new items served included sake and soy-braised pork belly bao with minted pistachio hoisin sauce, Kona crab and artichoke dip, lobster fried rice and a salad made with locally sourced ingredients.
For dessert, guests enjoyed raspberry tiramisu, chocolate hazelnut cake, red velvet cake and Maduli’s award-winning Punalu’u Sweet Bread pudding.
“We want eight50 to be the premium destination for craft beer and fine whiskey lovers,” said Akimoto in a statement. “We feature an extensive selection of over 100 craft beers to go along with our craft cocktails, whiskeys, and wine varietals. Eight50 is a place where people can comfortably enjoy (items) off of our gourmet food menu in an upscale environment.”
Eight50 is open from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily at 850 Kamehameha Highway. Call (808) 454-1350.
“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.
Grind Time: Eight50 joins Leeward Bowl ohana