Applause-worthy Fare On Stage Menu
For an eatery viewed as slightly “different” when it first opened, Stage Restaurant has dealt its critics the best revenge – a successful wine bar, a busy dining room and a place with a growing reputation for excellence and value.
Go any weeknight for a pau hana glass of wine and you’ll find the after-work office crowd enjoying some of the best wine and pupu values in town. From a happy hour that runs week nights from 5 to 7 and offers signature cocktails and appetizers at $5, to live music and beer specials Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Amuse, the Wine Bar, fronting Stage, has become a popular destination on the Honolulu imbibing scene.
What was first considered curious – a wine bar where you buy a card and serve yourself from a chilled bottle system that delivers a measured pour – is now thought of as an excellent way to enjoy more than 80 different wines without breaking the bank or popping a cork. You can buy a $50 wine card Monday or Wednesday evenings and pay just $30. Replenish an existing card and you pay only $28.
A few steps forward at Stage, chef de cuisine Tim Petersen has been in charge of the kitchen since the departure of Ron DeGuzman a few months ago, and the restaurant appears to be flourishing. When I went for lunch last week, the dining room was busy, the wait staff attentive to a fault (I had my Diet Coke invisibly refilled so many times I was shaking by the time I left), and the menu an impressive mix of usual lunch fare (salads, soups, sandwiches, specials) with occasional inspired twists – all prepared with a comforting level of confidence.
A Chinese Style Steamed Fish ($19), a fresh catch served with lup cheong, ginger, green onions, cilantro, soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms, is not a revolutionary dish, but its soothing broth and bright flavors are perfect at lunch. An excellent Caesar salad has a perfectly balanced dressing, and Misoyaki New Zealand King Salmon ($18), served with green tea soba noodles, kaiware sprouts, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, bubu arare, wasabi and Tsuyu sauce, speaks to local roots.
A hint from a frequent diner: Ask for ponzu sauce on the side. It complements the salmon and its attendant seasoning perfectly.
I’m a big fan of the prix fixe lunch because I don’t have to think too hard about ordering, and I’ve never had anything that wasn’t first rate from the simple menu offered at Stage. There are three courses daily: a soup or salad and entrée (meatloaf, catch of the day or king salmon were recent choices). Dessert is included in the $26 price. I avoid dessert at lunchtime and I especially avoid it here, because the only thing that should follow a sumptuous portion of the house special Brownie ala mode is a nap, and I don’t have time to sleep during the day.
A list of current events, wine dinners, prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner are available at stagerestauranthawaii.com.
And, yes, it does have the best dining room chairs in town.