49 N. Hotel Street Honolulu
Phone number (808) 537-2577
Hours Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. website livestocktavern.com
You will find no Asian-fusion or Pacific Rim cuisine at Livestock Tavern.
It’s a new concept from partners Jesse Cruz and Dusty Grable — who also own and operate Lucky Belly across the street — one that stays true to their philosophy.
Inside, exposed brick walls, high ceilings and sleek décor manage to make the expansive room feel industrial, homey and chic all at the same time. It’s a look similar to Lucky Belly, which Grable says some have compared to other establishments in places like San Francisco, New York or Portland.
On its menu are seasonal American-inspired dishes and beverages (the current seasonal sweet tea, with apple, cranberry and an all-spice simple syrup is a must) that don’t stray, other than pasta items offered during dinner.
The Maine Lobster Roll, for instance, is unlike most here have ever seen — probably because no other place in Hawaii offers anything close to the true form of the dish. The lobster, which finds the right balance between savory and sweet with the addition of a brown butter hollandaise sauce, is served in top-sliced brioche. It also masterfully highlights components made entirely in-house, found in nearly all items at Livestock Tavern. The brioche is Cruz’s own creation, as are the accompanying smoked paprika potato chips.
In the Tavern Burger, a Kaiser roll that took Cruz almost 30 iterations before perfecting is a subtle addition that ties everything together.
“Our goal was to be a burger that people specifically crave,” says Grable.
A lofty goal, but one that is achieved with what is a truly nuanced flavor profile.
“We wanted it to taste like a steak sandwich, not so much a ground beef burger,” says Grable.
With a ratio of about 75 percent hangar steak to 25 percent chuck steak, there is nothing remotely reminiscent of fast food about this.
Gruyere cheese replaces the usual cheddar topping, adding a slightly sweet but rich flavor that is balanced with the use of frisee instead of lettuce.
Really, though, what makes this dish is the addition of bacon. Only in this case, it’s a bacon onion marmalade instead of bacon slices, to ensure each bite has that added element.
Healthier items also are available. Its Grains salad, for example, is hearty and healthy, and doesn’t skimp on flavor. Farro, wheat berries and quinoa, tossed with pumpkin seeds, kale and a white balsamic vinaigrette make it as flavorful as it is filling. The addition of pears also makes it slightly sweet, complimented well with bleu cheese crumbles.
Adjacent to its dining room is a bar where patrons can wait for a table or just hang out while sipping on wine, cocktails and other drinks.
Beyond Livestock Tavern’s food, Grable and Cruz really seek to provide each diner with a memorable experience.
“I guess what really is our passion, what we love most about this, is hospitality,” says Grable. “I hope that’s what we represent the most: a space of hospitality.”