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Pau Hana Patrol: Views make up for price at Sarento’s
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / email@example.com
I’m high on Sarento’s, a new (to me) attraction for happy hour that really knows how to make you feel above it all.
Sarento’s at the Top of the I, a restaurant on the 30th floor of the Ilikai tower, is coolly attractive, an object lesson in timeless poise and chic.
Ilikai Hotel, 1777 Ala Moana Boulevard #30
The restaurant refers you to its happy hour menu online with a logo enjoining you to “stay classy,” and that it does.
You won’t find super-cheap deals on pupu here; that’s not the reason Sarento’s exists. But you will find discounted small plates that allow you to sample some of the carefully prepared, carefully presented specialty dishes offered at this above-it-all location, in an atmosphere that’s chill and cosmopolitan.
BEER, WINE and cocktail offerings are very attractively priced at happy hour, with domestic bottles available for just $3.50 and house wines for $5. That means that if you just want to sip a cold one, you can sip in style for very little.
Happy hour plates can be had for as little as $4. These selections include Fried Local Mushrooms in a chimichurri puree, pickled haricot verts spiced with cayenne and garlic or arancini.
On my visit, I ordered filet mignon “meatball” sliders, delicious at about the size of two bites, for $5 each — and found them more satisfying than you might expect from their size. With the rich flavor of the ground filet mignon, it was easy to take my time and savor the taste.
Asparagus, lightly grilled, was another rewarding choice. A small plate was enough to share among four friends. The asparagus was served with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, a delicate egg over easy and an embellishment of speck. For those like me who aren’t familiar with that term, speck is thin-sliced cured meat.
Finally, we had to try the oysters, served with a small side offering of fresh ahi tartare, and dressed with lilikoi mignonette and truffle oil.
At four for $14, this was not inexpensive — especially since I could easily have eaten all four! — but the oysters were delicate and nicely presented.
Vintage jazz played in the background, and the sun was setting in panoramic glory in front of me at my barside table. Living the high life, indeed. I sipped my $5 Italian birra (Oro Di Milano Brown Amber Ale, recommended) and enjoyed the moment.
Happy hour patrons are served a sampler dish of unleavened crackers and hearty rustic bread, with olive oil for dipping. Taking this into account, our selection of three appetizers and a drink was enough to count as a light meal.
THE CONVERSATION was good, and the view over the marina was gorgeous, as the light dimmed, playing over the dancing waters. We were satisfied all ’round.
Some other restaurants that attract a professional crowd may get raucous during happy hour. On my two visits, that was not the case at Sarento’s.
Instead, while there were pairs of friends and couples laughing softly and enjoying themselves around the bar, the atmosphere remained quiet.
That befits a carpeted and linened setting where one can gaze out over the Pacific and the cityscape with appropriate appreciation.
Another special beauty of Sarento’s happy hour is that it is available every day, with an accessible three-hour spread Fridays through Tuesdays and all evening long Wednesdays and Thursdays.
That means I can go back any day of the week and I will.