By Mike Prasad
Special to Nonstop
In 1991, far away from Hawaii, on the cold cobbled streets of London is where the gastropub, a genius combination of a fine restaurant and pub, was born. Since then, gastropubs have sprung up all over this country, from The Spotted Pig in New York to James Street in Pittsburgh, to Father’s Office in Los Angeles.
The dangerously delightful unison of craft beers, craft cocktails and high-end food is a winning combination when done right. Up until recently however, gastropubs in Hawaii were rare. But lucky for us foodies and libation enthusiasts, the gastropub scene in Honolulu has officially been established with the opening of Salt, Dash, Real a Gastropub and now Pint + Jigger.
Located at 1936 S. King St., across from Chef Mavro, Pint + Jigger brings together some ridiculous talent under one roof. On the cocktail side, Dave Newman mixes up perfectly balanced drinks from local and housemade ingredients, including homemade macadamia nut liqueur, lilikoi and blood orange. Previously with Nobu and current president of the United States Bartenders’ Guild Hawaii, Newman’s cocktails are among the best on the island. Handling the beers is Jonathan Schwalbenitz of Murphy’s Bar & Grill. With 21 local, seasonal and craft beers on tap and over 50 bottled beers, Schwalbenitz’s beer menu is a hops lovers dream come true.
In terms of food, Executive Chef Noah Blair serves up pub-inspired gourmet dishes with locally sourced flavors and ingredients. His BLT at Trump Tower and Michelin Star pedigree should please even the most discerning food enthusiast.
On first hearing of the team, I could only imagine what delicious surprises would emerge from the collaboration of such a talented trio. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long.
This past Wednesday was Pint + Jigger’s friends and family opening, which offered a selected tasting menu of the house favorite craft cocktails, beers and food. The food options included an Oatmeal Stout Burger with beer cheese, Guava Wood Smoked Sausage Sliders, Applewood Smoked Double-Cut Bacon, the “Scotch Egg” and more. Cocktails featured a Smoking Gun Margarita, a reverse cocktail Drawn & Quartered and a classic Hemingway Daiquiri among others. I opted for the “Bartender’s Choice” and was privileged to have Newman mix up complementary drinks for the dishes. I can’t tell you what was in the cocktails, but they were exceptional.
For beer, the selected menu offered everything from Guinness to Deschutes Inversion IPA and Erdinger Weissbrau Hefe-Weizen to Hawaii Nui Brewing Hapa Brown. We couldn’t sample everything in one night, but of the drinks and dishes I did try, nothing was less than delicious, and most were exceptional.
Starting with the Scotch Egg — a soft boiled egg wrapped in pork rillette, breaded and deep fried — the flavors and textures were well put together. The crunchy outer shell gave way to a gooey custard-like egg, cooked perfectly and salty enough, but not overwhelming. Next up was the Applewood Smoked Double-Cut Bacon with a locally sourced spicy corn salsa. Again, a perfectly crisped crunch gave way to a satisfyingly thick meaty cut of bacon, not too salty and countered well by the sweetness of the corn and light acidity of the salsa. Continuing the theme, dessert was the “Red Devils On Horseback,” with fresh strawberries wrapped in crispy bacon and a honey-like savory lemon caramel sauce then topped with candied lemon rind. Sweet, salty, crunchy, juicy and delicious, it was an award-deserving combination. All together, every dish was bursting with flavor and texture in complementing combinations. Never too salty or sweet and never dry, each came together amazingly. While Pint + Jigger may have gone a bit cerebral on the fundamentals of pub food, the result transforms the concept.
One final thing I truly enjoyed about the experience was the communal layout of the venue. In a town where community can be everything, Pint + Jigger is a destination to enjoy great food, great drinks and great friends. For more information about Pint + Jigger, visit its Facebook page
Mike Prasad is the co-founder of MXLGY.com, a foodie, libationist and social media father of food trucks everywhere. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePrasad or email at email@example.com.