Street Burger Kauai
One day after Street Burger opened on Kauai, there was a line out the door and people had to wait for tables. I got to try a taste when owners Kristen and Aaron Leikam (a husband and wife team who formally owned Cakes by Kristen) held a preview two days before the opening. They were passing out samples to hundreds of people, so Dan and I went back the following week for an accurate taste.
There is ample parking in the back and smoke clings to the outside air, giving a hint of what’s inside. The air-conditioned gourmet burger bar seats about 60, and there are 24 beers, two hard ciders and two wines on tap. Customers can sit at stainless steel topped tables in the dining area, outdoors on a covered lanai, on stools at the beer bar, or at “Chef’s Counter” along the grill.
Aaron stands at the a wood-fire grill, squinting from the smoke of kiawe, lychee guava and iron wood. He raises and lowers an iron grate that is suspended over the coals, by turning a steel wheel. The grate is loaded with 6-ounce patties made of ground beef from Makaweli Meat Co., a grass-fed ranch on Kauai’s West Side.
Dan and I sit in the dining room and try to decide what to eat. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a menu that makes us want to try one of everything. I start with a 16-ounce glass of Gordon Borsch Czech Style Pilsner ($6), which was first brewed in the Czech town of Pilsen in 1842 and is 5.2 percent ABV. Dan orders Gigantic IPA ($9), brewed in Portland, OR with a 7.3 percent AVB.
Everything is made in house, including mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, French fries and pork belly. There are six types of fries, including herbed ($8) with parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage and sea salt as well as Texas Poutine ($10) with chili, sharp cheddar, poached egg and drizzled onion.
I had a tantalizing taste at the sneak preview, so I start with Poke & Popcorn ($16). The poke fills a 4-ounce jelly jar, which is set on a plate of popcorn. Creamy cubes of fresh ahi are blended with olive oil, oranges that have been caramelized on the grill, Maui onions and green Sicilian olives. Bottarga, a Mediterranean delicacy of salted, cured tuna roe, is shaved on top.
There are eight tantalizing salads such as the Street Salad ($16)with kale, peppadews, Gouda, pork belly, poached egg and lemon vinaigrette. I go with the Arugula Salad ($10), with fizzled onions, Manchego cheese, duck confit, capers and those caramelized oranges. The serving is generous and I enjoy every bite.
Dan is a burger man, so he’s goes straight for them. All burgers are served on a taro brioche bun, made by Passion Bakery in Kapaa, and come with hand-cut fries and a side of thick ketchup. Five burgers round out the classics ($10 – $15), and 14 exotic burgers ($14 – $20) are a trip down flavor town. Dan takes the ride and orders the Farmer ($16) with tomato jam, grilled onions, aged gouda cheese, arugula and a fried egg.
We are feeling good and full, but in the name of research, we power on. We order another round of beers and dessert. Kristen is still sweet on sweets, and the small menu includes three choices. The Macadamia Honey Tart ($8) is like a pecan pie, but not as sweet. It’s topped with a soft mound of freshly whipped cream and a swirl of dark chocolate sauce. The Street Burger S’more ($8) is a welcome surprise. Peanut butter feuilletine (crispy pastry flakes) fill the bottom on an 8-ounce mason jar. Chocolate mousse is layered on top and a piping of house-made marshmallow fluff is toasted on top.
I first met Aaron when I wrote a story about 22 North (now Gaylord’s). He was the executive chef, who was seasoned in farm-to-table cooking. I’m thrilled that he’s cooking again and that Kapaa has another terrific place to eat.
Tue. – Sat.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
4-369 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa