Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: The Grove Restaurant & BarRestaurant Insider
October 8, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: STEPHANIE CHILDERS
The Grove Restaurant & Bar inside The Modern Honolulu is one of the hidden jewels in Hawaii. The outdoor setting provides a beautiful view of the marina, and the food is some of the best that I have tried at a pool bar restaurant.
The quality of ingredients and the unique flavors that come out in these dishes, even something as basic as The Grove Burger and candied bacon infused with jalapeño, is outstanding.
I met with director of food and beverage Ben Bickford and chef Robert Rudd to talk about the new menu items and what else they’ll be bringing to the table.
AL: There have been some changes happening here, can you tell me more?
BB: The Modern Honolulu has been a favorite among the locals. Diamond Resorts took ownership in 2018 and turned it into a timeshare. Then the pandemic happened. As everything was reopening post-pandemic, about two years ago to this day, Hilton Grand Vacations acquired this property. Sept. 13 was officially our branding day, and we are officially a Hilton Vacations Club. The Grove is truly unique, as HVC usually doesn’t have its own retail/restaurant outlets it operates.
AL: What new things are happening at The Grove?
RR: We are enhancing the menu, bringing an identity to it. We like to say our menu is more approachable comfortable food, something you would enjoy in a neighborhood café. We will have breakfast 7:30-11 a.m. inside the restaurant, and lunch and dinner will be served at The Pool Bar 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
The Modern Street Taco Trio ($22) is kalua pork tacos with an avocado crema and diced onion; chicken tinga taco with tomatoes and onions; and garlic shrimp taco with mango chimichurri sauce. This is served with a side of chips and a housemade salsa.
The Grove Burger ($23) is a half-pound wagyu beef patty between toasted brioche with frisée, cheddar, tomato, bacon marmalade and housemade chile glaze.
The Kalua Pork Dip ($20) features classic pulled kalua pork with slow-braised carmalized onions. We slow roast this for three hours to bring out the sweetness. It’s topped with Swiss cheese and served with the pork jus.
The Fried Chicken Sandwich ($20) has a fried chicken cutlet, toasted brioche bun, kale, pickled red peppers, pickled red onions and creamy Boursin ranch with chives and herbs. It’s served with either french fries or a side salad.
Our Ube Mochi Pancakes ($19) is our buttermilk pancake recipe. The ube glaze is cream cheese, and it has ube syrup, powdered sugar and fresh fruit.
AL: Are there any signature cocktails or beverages?
RR: The frozen Coconut Mojito ($14) is a refreshing favorite made with Cruzan coconut rum, lime and fresh mint. Our frozen slushies can be served without alcohol, and they’re very refreshing, especially when relaxing by the pool enjoying the sun. Our bartenders are great at coming up with new and creative drinks for our guests to enjoy.
AL: How do you approach creating a menu catered to locals and tourists?
BB: When our guests are inquiring about certain menu items, we do our best to encourage them to try the local favorites, such as poke nachos. It’s a great way to get them to try without feeling intimidated. It’s American cuisine with local flair, like adding a mango chimichurri sauce and adding a different type of loco moco, such as a kalua pork variety.
AL: What are the must-have items on your menu?
RR: The Ube Mochi Pancakes are phenomenal, which is one of the items we prepared for you to try. All of our syrups are made in-house, so any of the waffles or pancake items are something you should try. Our popular Grove Burger is a must-have. Our Burrata Beet Salad ($16) is a must-have, and comes with roasted beets, arugula, feta cheese, candied pistachio, seasonal fruit, grilled baguette, macadamia nut vinaigrette. We have many local guests from all over the island that come just for that. We’ve also made our Kobe Bao Bun (call for cost) into a larger dinner portion.