A couple of months ago, a friend told me a steak and whisky restaurant was opening in the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting its arrival ever since. So when Anne asked if I would attend the pre-opening party of WSW Steakhouse on behalf of Living Hilo Style, I was beyond excited to take her up on the offer.
WSW Steakhouse is the brainchild of Food and Beverage Director Gregory Arianoff and Executive Chef Dean Otake, who were both with the restaurant’s previous incarnation as The Queen’s Court. With the pandemic changing the way people dine out, they wanted to come up with a concept that offered something different for the Hilo market. Thus, WSW Steakhouse was born.
The first thing I noticed when walking into the recently remodeled dining room was how huge it felt. Arianoff said capacity of the restaurant has been scaled down from 400+ seats to 140, due to social distancing requirements. The tables are extremely well spaced and it felt as safe as a dining out experience could be right now. The second thing I noticed was the beautiful view of Coconut Island. Luckily, we were seated by the window and could take advantage of the scenery.
WSW stands for Whisky, Steak and Wine, and my husband Mark was excited to try their extensive selection of whiskies. Not only do they have a whisky cart that they roll table-side, they offer the option to have your whisky smoked for $1. The server put the glass of whisky into a glass box, then lit some wood chips and piped the smoke into the box. Mark said the whiskies (Laphroaig single malt scotch 10 year, Dalmore Port Wood Reserve, and Macallan single malt scotch 15 year) were the best he’s ever had. The smoke added complexity and dimension, and he actually enjoyed the two glasses he had smoked more than the more expensive one that he had plain.
As this was a pre-opening party, the menu was pared down to a few selections from each category. We started with the bone marrow and the WSW salad. If you’ve never had bone marrow before, you’re in for a treat. You scoop it out of the bone and spread it on a piece of bread like butter – it’s rich and decadent. The bone was just enough for two people to have one piece of toast each, which is perfect because you don’t want to get too full when you have a big steak coming! The salad was the perfect complement to the bone marrow – light and refreshing – and featured field greens from local Dam Fine Farms, tomatoes, watermelon radish, cucumber, kohlrabi, capers and housemade tzatziki dressing. The addition of the watermelon radish also made the dish very pretty and Instagram-ready.
For our mains, we chose the 16 oz prime rib (medium rare) with a loaded baked potato and the pork chop with french fries. The prime rib came out more rare than medium rare but was very tender and flavorful, and the piece we got had a huge fat cap on it. Even though the loaded baked potato had sour cream, cheese, and bacon in it somehow managed to not seem heavy. For me, the star of the evening was the pork chop – it was about an inch thick with a perfect fat cap all around the edge. We got it with au poivre, which despite being a pepper sauce, was not spicy. It was the best pork chop I’ve had in a long time.
As far as the last W in WSW, the wine – I had a complimentary glass of Caposaldo Italian sparkling rose, which went great with the appetizers. Mark tried the WSW exclusive Grace Town Old Vines Zinfandel from California, which paired well with the mains. The wine collection is showcased in the impressive 880-bottle wine cellar in the center of the room which lights up with different colors – I imagine it’s something you would see at a steakhouse in Las Vegas.
We closed out the night by sharing a piece of the Japanese matcha cheesecake – the perfect end to a perfect evening. We’re already planning what we’re going to eat on our next visit (coming up in a couple of weeks)! With delicious food, a beautiful view, unique whisky and wine offerings, and great service, WSW Steakhouse is a welcome addition to Hilo’s fine dining scene.