Summertime, and the Eating is Easy
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In perfect harmony with its concept of offering fresh, farm-to-table cuisine, Bills Hawaii has revitalized its menu with a slew of dishes that are sure to bring the sunshine to your summer dining experiences.
As one of 17 in Australian chef and food writer Bill Granger’s family of restaurants, Bills Hawaii in Waikiki has been serving up an energetic mix of modern fare in a laid-back Aussie-style setting since March 2014. Known as a brunch haven that dishes out to-die-for Ricotta Hotcakes paired with banana and honeycomb butter ($16) — the same dish that put Granger on the worldwide culinary map — Bills also has developed quite a following for its lunch and dinner menus, to which the new menu caters.
Before debuting the revamped selections earlier this month, Bills Hawaii’s executive chef Lucas Woodden and general manager Eki Locke traveled to London — where there are three of Granger’s eateries — to meet with other members of the international group of restaurants to discuss plans for the new cuisine. The planning went brilliantly, as the fresh array of steak, ribs, salads, pastas and more already have garnered positive feedback.
“Now our dinners here are doing almost as well as our breakfast/brunch,” says Locke. “It’s really taken off.”
Twice Cooked Beef Short Rib with Asian Slaw ($20, dinner only) has proven to be a welcomed addition, with succulent meat that’s first given a charcoal kiss from the grill, then slowly roasted for five hours until optimally tender. Once ordered, the ribs are cooked again in savory broth to make them juicy as can be. Vinegarand cilantro-accented coleslaw on the side nicely contrasts with the rich meat.
Another winner is Grass Fed 8-ounce Beef Burger ($19), accompanied by pickled green chilies, arugula — known as rocket in Australia — and herb mayo. The dish features organic Big Island beef from Parker Ranch and gets a dose of refreshment from house-pickled cucumber ribbons.
For those in the mood for lighter fare, the new menu boasts small plates that are great for sharing, including Zucchini Chips ($9). Complete with an Asian touch of tempura flour, the pupu comes with Nigella seeds and on-trend yogurt sauce bursting with tahini, a ground sesame seed super-food.
Woodden notes that the cuisine at Bills Hawaii shows Granger’s knack for infusing his menus with ingredients that are reflective of the cheerful spirit Australia is known for. “He’s very into sunny flavors like lemon and other bright ingredients,” describes Woodden.
Those light, summery tones come through in a spry new pasta titled Pan-fried Tomato and Zucchini Orecchiette ($19) with basil, ricotta, lemon, chili and garlic. “That one was actually on our old menu and was super popular. People really missed it, so we brought it back,” says Locke. “It’s really good and has a really fresh, clean taste to it.”
He adds that the pasta is one of a handful of vegetarian items on the new list of offerings, another being a yellow curry served with silken tofu.
Regardless of what patrons order at Bills, freshness is an ingredient that permeates the entire menu. “We’re definitely farm-to-table, and we try to get all of our ingredients as locally as possible. If not, we get them shipped over within a day or two of being at the farm. We’re all about being as fresh as possible, so we make everything in house, we do all of our own pickling, we do all of our own batters and breads, and we don’t buy anything in cans,” explains Woodden.
He adds that Bills Hawaii puts some island-style pizazz on its menu as well, especially in options like Avocado and Tuna Poke. Wood-den hopes to unveil more regional specialties soon, with a lau lau dish and shave ice dessert in the works.
Guests can feel good about dining at Bills Hawaii knowing that it is a Green Business Award recipient, honored by the governor, state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, state Department of Health and Chamber of Commerce for its dedication to sustainable and eco-friendly business practices. It has a modern, open and spacious dining atmosphere to match, complete with high ceilings and warm wood-paneled walls.
In addition to Hawaii and London locations, Bills operates in Australia (where it started), Korea and Japan, with the most recent restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan.
Pau Hana at Bills
Bills Hawaii already has mastered the art of brunch, and now that it has a booming happy hour program from 3 to 6 p.m. daily, its popularity with locals as an all-day dining destination is continuing to grow.
Pau hana patrons can sink their teeth into small plates and flatbread pizzas, such as Heirloom Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella ($8 happy hour), enlivening with local vine-ripened tomatoes and other fresh ingredients. There’s also Korean Fried Chicken ($6 happy hour), Fried Calamari ($6 happy hour) and more.
Need something to sip on? Enjoy $6 specialty cocktails with an island vibe during happy hour — Hibiscus Margarita, anyone? — as well as premium well spirits for $5. Glasses of wine ($5) and local Kona Brewing Co. beer on draft ($3) and bottled ($4) also are available.
280 Beachwalk Ave., Waikiki
(just off Kalakaua Avenue)
Daily, breakfast: 7-11 a.m., lunch: 11-5 p.m., dinner: 5-10 p.m.; Happy hour: 3-6 p.m.
Validated parking is available in the Bank of Hawaii parking structure located across the street from the restaurant.