Jason Genegabus

Not a young crowd

GRABBING a drink in Kailua can sometimes be a hit-or-miss proposition.

While there are a number of establishments in the area that serve alcohol, depending on both the time of day and day of the week you stop by, it can affect your experience. Head over to the Shack Kailua too early in the evening, for example, and you could easily end up surrounded by families having dinner.

Sure, it's a good thing for the family. The kids get to eat burgers and fries, while the grown-ups can down a beer or two.

But with the football season kicking off soon, are you really going to feel comfortable getting sloshed and screaming at a TV during Monday Night Football with a six-year-old sitting at the table next to you?

YOU ALSO want to be careful about ending up someplace that is more a restaurant than a bar. Unfortunately, that's what happened to me this week during my visit to Lucy's Grill and Bar.

Call me a sucker, I guess -- with the word "bar" in its name, I figured Lucy's would come through as a good place to kick back with a beer or two.

But once you walk up to the front entrance on Aulike Street, it's obvious you're walking into a place meant for people to sit down and have a meal instead.

While there is a bar here, separating the indoor seating area from an outdoor one, the vibe is very restaurant-like. Unless you choose to ignore the hostess and head for one of 10 barstools either inside or outside, you're going to end up getting led to a table and presented with both a menu and a wine list.

Get seated in the dining room, and you'll have a view of the bar on one end and the open kitchen on the other. Head outside, and you're surrounded by hedges and, you guessed it, the bar!

Lucy's Grill and Bar
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. daily
Location: 33 Aulike St.
Phone: 230-8188


WITH SURFBOARDS hanging on the walls, display cases filled with shells and four aquariums spread throughout the dining room, it kind of feels like you're having dinner at a wealthy friend's estate in Lanikai.

The customers inside the restaurant only helped to reinforce that vibe, since I saw a lot of older people and families during my visit. Other than the three 20-somethings sitting at the bar, the average customer age here had to be somewhere around 40 years old.

If you're looking for a meal in a nice environment, this place might be for you. But if you want to relax and get a little tipsy with friends, there are other options worth checking out on this side of the island.

I DO want to share one highlight from my visit to Lucy's Grill and Bar -- the Pineapple Martini.

At seven bucks a pop, these aren't the cheapest drinks on the island, but I can't see myself spending an evening under the stars here while drinking anything else.

What makes them so good? It has to be the chunks of pineapple that are spooned into each glass. The fruit is soaked in vodka before serving, adding a nice kick to the finished product.

Other flavored martinis on the menu include a Mandarin martini, Cocoa-tini, Pink Melon-tini and the Kailua Passion. Li Hing Mui margaritas ($5.50) also are available.

How much for a Bud Light?

The Barfly drank $3.50 bottles of Bud Light during his visit to Lucy's Grill and Bar. Imported bottles and ales will cost you a little more, and forget about ordering a draft beer here.

Get things to do?

It's a restaurant, folks -- other than a single television set hanging over the bar, there isn't anything to do. Unless you plan on sitting near that TV, be sure to bring a friend if you stop here.

What about the grinds?

There's a full dinner menu at Lucy's, but I'm not sure I want to explore it any more after trying a few different pupus. The Spicy Ahi Tower ($13) was visually stimulating, with sushi rice, avocado, ahi and three different kinds of tobiko stacked on top of each other. But after a few bites, it just reminded me of an unwrapped California Roll. The Crispy Kalua Pig Triangles ($6) weren't much better, with the pork tasting a little too pasty and drowned in a sauce that was way too sweet. The Fish Tacos ($13) were a disappointment, too.

And the help?

Sit at the bar here, and you'll have no problems getting a drink. Sit anywhere else, and you'll be reminded very quickly that you're in a restaurant, not a bar. My server was polite and attentive, but it still took some time between ordering a drink and actually getting it brought to the table.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Barfly appears every Friday in Star-Bulletin Weekend.
E-mail Jason Genegabus at jason@starbulletin.com with suggestions of neighborhood bars to visit.



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