Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fan faves won't go away at Islands Fine Burgers

Nadine Kam photos
At Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, several retired sandwiches are part of a hidden menu of old favorites that they continue serving because customers can't get enough of them. This one is the CA Flyer, grilled chicken with Island Reds (sweet grilled red onions) and pepper jack cheese. Served with all-you-can-eat fries.


I don’t know about you, but ever since Bloomingdale’s and the Ala Moana Ewa Wing Expansion opened, I’ve been pretty much living at the mall for work-related and holiday reasons.

In between lugging bags, or perhaps needing a break because of it, I ended up eating there too, checking out what’s new in Bloomie’s third-floor restaurant, and revisiting CPK and Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks.

At Islands, there’s more to the menu than meets the eye. About a half dozen retired sandwiches and burgers are part of a hidden menu of old favorites that the restaurant continues serving because customers won’t let them delete them from their repertoire.

Among these are the CA Flyer, grilled chicken with Island Reds (sweet grilled red onions) and pepper jack cheese; and the bacon-and-avocado topped Rincon (all the burgers are named after famed island surf destinations), which is otherwise comparable to the restaurant’s Maui burger.

Also back by popular demand is the Hana Hou Burger, topped with pepper jack, tomato, lettuce, pickles, a spicy aioli and topped with caramelized Borracho beer onions. It was reintroduced yesterday, and will be offered through the end of January.

Football fans were the first to discover the restaurant's extended happy hour available during Saturday and Sunday NFL playoff games in the bar area from 3 p.m. to close.

Some of the food specials available during the happy hour are kalua pork sliders ($10.59), quesadillas ($5.29), cheddar fries ($5.19) and Island nachos ($8.55).

Sunday NFL drink specials include Bud Light for $3.85 and Bloody Marys for $4.25.

During a visit, I ordered dishes off both happy hour and regular menus:

Islands Nachos disappeared in no time. One does work up an appetite while Christmas shopping!

Love the Buffalo chicken wings. I like the traditional, though the restaurant also offers BBQ and teriyaki versions.

Cheddar fries are $4.99, but if you don’t mind going cheese-less, ordering a burger will get you all the fries you can eat.

We attempted to balance out the bar fare by ordering the Kalifornia Kobb salad off the regular menu. It’s a great entrĂ©e salad, with lettuce tossed with grilled, chilled large dice chicken breast, crumbled applewood smoked bacon, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, chopped egg, tomatoes and scallions & lettuce, with a light, creamy vinaigrette.

The Rincon burger is a hidden menu offering, essentially a Maui burger with bacon, in addition to lettuce, tomato, onion and guacamole. I could taste why customers keep requesting this burger the company tried to retire.

You can order a single drink or if you don't mind sharing with friends, there's the Punch Bowl for two.

Among dessert offerings on the regular menu is the Kona Pie, mocha almond fudge ice cream and cookie crust topped with a thick layer of fudge, whipped cream, roasted almonds and cherry.

Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks is in the Ala Moana Center fourth-floor Ho’okipa Terrace. Call (808) 943-6670.

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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