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7605 Wooster Pike Cincinnati, OH 45227
Spring is springing so naturally the patios are getting packed. Any bar with an outdoor area will be the preferred place. Hahana Beach in Plainville is one of the two big volleyball bars (Sandbar is the other, you’ll have to wait til’ next month for that). Hahana Beach is saturated in Hawaiian surfer beach volleyball themes.
The big courts on the back and side of the open barn building dominate the view from the big garage door openings. Cement floors, open ceilings, beach patio furniture and surf decor (pricey boards in flawless condition) help to create a cool, beach bar feel without looking over-done.
Burgers, wraps, baskets, salads and appetizers make up a fairly normal pub grub menu. You have to look hard to see the few Hawaiian influenced items; Hawaiian cole saw (red cabbage-carrot-mango vinaigrette $1.99) and the Hahana Burger (1/2 pound burger-grilled pineapple-jalapeno slices-pepper jack-lettuce-tomato-red onion $9.99) and Steak Kabobs (skewered steak medallions with grilled pineapple and red onion, served with sweet potato fries and Hawaiian cole slaw. $14.99) Other than those, the rest is straight forward food with Hawaiian sounding names.
The Hahana burger was tempting but we went with something more share friendly; Beach Burgers, three mini-burgers (with BBQ, cheddar, lettuce & tomato. $8.99) and waffle fries. Crab cakes, three cakes with garlic lime aioli ($8.99) and Fried Green Tomatoes (with cusabi or cucumber-wasabi dressing $7.99).
The crab cakes got the first bites snagged out of them. Thin, soft, fragile and slightly fishy, a loose cake binder barely held thin shreds of crab together. They were somewhat disappointing. Too soft to actually pick up, you pulled off pieces that broke easily. I’ve never said this before about crab cakes, but they needed more cake. More crab would help too (bigger pieces). I find chef Paul Prudhomme’s “Lotsa Crab Cakes” recipe is the best I’ve tried (Hahana Beach could certainly learn from it). You make the cake mixture first so as not destroy the crab. Paul stresses lightly folding the lump crab into the cake mixture, carefully to not break up the lump pieces into strings, using just enough mixture to make it all stick. Gently round them out in 1” thick balled/patties. In hot olive oil you simply press, crisp the bottom & top and serve. The Hahana Beach cakes paled wimpy and soggy in comparison. I wouldn’t re-order them. But hey, they did look homemade.
The fried green tomatoes appeared too heavily breaded. It all worked well in your mouth though. Thick, very crisp corn meal batter covered thicker slices of green tomato. The cusabi dressing was great, full of bright flavor and kick. These I would order again.
The little cheese burgers went down easy. The beef patty was juicy, smoky and had a slight ham-like flavor. The lettuce was way old and the tomato was mushy but with the veggies taken off, the little burgers were worth ordering too. Real cheddar and BBQ was enough flavors to balance the beef in this little fella if you ask me. I wish you could order them all different, Hahana offers several decent sounding burger topping combos. I think it would be terrific to order each little burger in one of the signature styles. As far as I know, you can’t.
The waffle fries were also well worth ordering again. Fresh-cut slabs of Idahos fried perfect, then salted & peppered. Nice & fresh, perfect potatoes.
Service was quick & capable, if not indifferent and borderline under attentive. Honestly I prefer it that way. Just give me what I need, even better, anticipate what I need, drop it off quickly (or even in passing) and leave us (to enjoy) alone. Ideal service if you ask me. Maybe they are trained that way or maybe we just got lucky.
Prices are a bit pushy for a pub. I blame the locale for that though. Being sandwiched in between Terrace Park and Mariemont results in pricey sandwiches obviously. Ten bucks for a burger isn’t cheap. However, the waffle fries aren’t cheap frozen crap, the meaty 1/2 patty is juicy & good so all in all I guess it’s actually worth it.
Of course the view from the dining room will be slathered with tan skin and bouncing bikinis before long. I guess you have to factor that in the price as well. Then, it would definitely be worth it.
They have live music but I see no published list, so you’re on your own there. I guess you have to call. Other promotions, the menu and a coupon is on their site (hahanabeach.com).
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