Sideorders • July 28, 2016

PAUKUKALO FUN . . . Where?! People often ask me that question when I mention the little town near the base of Wailuku River.

But those who live in Central Maui certainly know all of the fun that is to be had in the little strip mall behind the Shell gas station from Ray’s Deli to Watercress Sports Bar & Grill.

“On July 1, it was official that we took this place over,” says Al Kuehu, a Waiehu boy who bought Watercress with his wife, Isa Kuehu. “I want this to be the hub of music and fun. We put in new carpet, redid the bar, added wall murals and we have eight flat screens for football.”

Wednesday there’s deejay music, Thursday, Mele Pono performs and Friday, Leilani Stark takes the stage. The sports bar and grill is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with the kitchen open until 1 a.m.

“We’ve added weekly specials of ahi katsu and abalone soup,” says Kuehu. “And we have the same popular menu of tong kalbi, mochiko chicken, honey-walnut shrimp and oxtail soup.”

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BITS AND PIECES . . . The new kid on Kapalua’s block, Taverna, will discontinue lunches effective Sunday. But the good news is, dinners will excel as the focus will be on the evening meal only.

“My partners and I feel this decision best supports our overall business plan,” explains principal partner Chris Kaiwi. “This allows us to focus on superb Italian cuisine, outstanding cocktails and wines, impeccable service and Hawaiian hospitality.”

Also in Kapalua, the Plantation House will be jumping on Friday with its popular monthly promotion called Beats & Eats that features pulsing deejay music and pupu in the expansive restaurant’s Bar Nineteen. This month’s rotating menu offers Korean mochi cakes; Taiwanese peppery fried chicken; watermelon feta salad; banana ice cream tacos; and more enticements.

Beats & Eats isn’t lacking in cocktails, either. The drink du jour is Citrus x Paradisi with Napili grapefruit, lime, tequila, elder flower and basil.

Love Irish food and a party? The Soul Kitchen fourth Birthday Bash is Friday at Mulligans On The Blue and it’s to help raise funds for the band’s first all-original music CD. Cost is $10. You may also buy from Guinness-battered fish and chips to shepherd’s pie. The evening will include a raffle with prizes including a Willie K Dinner Show there for a party of two, a $140 value.

Heading to Lanai this week for its Fifth Friday block party from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Dole Park in Lanai City? It will be easy to go for the evening only as an Expeditions Ferry will have a late departure at 9:45 p.m. to bring Mauians back to Lahaina. The free street festival features live music, good eats, prizes and more.

I recently spoke with Brian Etheredge, who was chef and owner of the former Capische? for 16 years before it was bought by the Hotel Wailea and the name changed to The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea.

“It was an awesome run,” says Etheredge, who still is a consultant there. “I’ve had a lot of calls from people who have a space to lease or buy, but I’m not sure if I want to do another restaurant right away. For now, I’m hunting, going fly fishing, doing some writing and partnering with Dan Fiske of Private Chef. But if something comes up in the Upcountry area, I’d think about it.”

Speaking of Upcountry, Hali’imaile General Store just underwent a small but significant refresh of its kitchen and dining room areas.

Executive Chef Marc McDowell is wowing diners with the new lunch menu. Top it off with dessert and get the second dessert free. In addition, you may get a three-course prime rib dinner on Sunday evenings for $38; and with a valid Hawaii ID, you can get 20 percent off dinner entrees any night of the week. Beginning Aug. 8 and running Mondays to Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m., HGS will launch an all-new bar menu and cocktail specials with seating both inside and outside on front lanai.