Lincolnshire’s Kona Grill: Summertime, and the Patio is Easy

You might come to Lincolnshire’s Kona Grill for the bar scene, or the sushi.

Maybe you have a taste for Japanese and American-influenced cuisine served in a pseudo-Hawaiian setting.

Whatever your reasons for visiting, ask to sit on the lovely, screened-in porch overlooking the man-made lake built from an old quarry. It’s restful, the overhead fans keep the air circulating, and it’s the perfect summer spot to enjoy a Skinny Cool Cucumber Mojito ($6).

The “skinny” on this mojito, made with Cruzan light rum, cucumbers, mint, lime and Splenda simple syrup, is that it’s only around 100 calories. There’s also a Skinny Margarita Sukini, with fresh orange and lime juice and tequila for variety. I thought I’d hate it (not a fan of Splenda, too sickly sweet), but the citrus takes over in a surprising way that cancels out that faux-sugar taste and they are actually very refreshing. And guilt free!

The Shrimp Tempura Roll ($6) is a fine starter, and the selection of sushi rolls (some a little out there) is impressive. The Kona Calamari ($9.25), served with a spicy aioli dipping sauce, were on the soggy side and under-seasoned, although the aioli was just right. Potstickers ($8) were pan-seared and filled with chicken and veggies; they quickly disappeared. I love when the outside is perfectly crusty and you get the textural contrast with the steamy, soft filling.

The Ahi Steak Sandwich ($13.50), available at lunch, gave us freshly seared ahi tuna layered with basil pesto aioli, avocado, tomato and shredded Romaine lettuce, served with a side of crunchy but tasteless taro chips (taro is an Asian tuber and the basis for poi, a traditional Hawaiian dish). The tuna was fresh tasting, but the sandwich was unwieldy and very sloppy to eat. Definitely not date food!

We were disappointed by the Pan-Asian Noodles ($12.50), udon noodles mixed with marinated beef and vegetables in a spicy black bean garlic sauce. Despite our server’s insistence that the sauce “wasn’t spicy at all,” it was nearly inedible.  More successful was the Sweet Chili-Glazed Salmon Salad, with a generous portion of grilled, glazed salmon perched atop fresh field greens, cucumber, diced tomato, tofu and crispy wonton strips, tossed in a sesame-soy dressing. It was delicious.

Many of Kona’s desserts are cleverly available in “individual” (a/k/a smaller portions) sizes, a welcome solution to the problem of too much of a good thing. The Crème Brulee ($3.50) was a manageable size, with a crackly sugar crust and smooth-textured custard beneath. The Red Velvet Cake ($6.50) was not the best I’ve had, but as far as I’m concerned, red velvet only comes in various shades of good.

I might not be drawn back by the food (or service, for that matter), but I’d come again to sit on that patio and nurse a Skinny Mojito or two (or three) with a few sushi rolls. I know where my priorities lie.

Kona Grill