Tucked away in downtown Hilo, Hawaii, you might accidently find yourself at the front door of this quaint little cafe just steps away from the local farmers market. This is where I found myself about a week ago but I'd intentionally made my way there with a friend of mine and her daughter after hearing the place had such good reviews and was so hard to get reservations for (which made it even more appealing in a way). As the three of us walked to the front entrance, a tanned man wearing a lauhala papale (Hawaiian hat) crossed our path carrying what seemed to be a bag of fresh groceries from the nearby market. He greeted us good-naturedly and opened the door of the cafe for us and then introduced himself as Paul himself, owner, chef, and entertainer of the now-favorite little restaurant. He asks if we've ever been to his restaurant before, which we hadn't and he tells us "What took you so long?" Lol seriously, what took us so long to find this gem. One of Hilo's well-kept secrets for sure!
Inside was set three tables, one of which was already occupied by a couple. I liked the place instantly. The small open kitchen sat a few feet away from our table, above the kitchen a giant board with the delicious menu was set, a few vintage Hawaii-esque paintings hung, a giant bronze clock placed on the opposite wall, and notably a small sign high up on the wall that said "Never Trust A Skinny Cook", which was amusing as Paul was a pretty slender guy. I happily found out I had nothing to worry about this very excellent cook. I ordered the SS BLT, a combination of BLT sandwich including smoked salmon and pesto and a fresh side salad. My compadres ordered Belgian waffles and the Fish Bowl, which was a tasty herby pasta with sauteed fish. Paul started on the Belgian waffles first for the youngest of our troupe, and then worked his way to the sandwich and pasta. Let me just say that as quickly as this guy can cook, my mouth could not stop salivating at the delicious aroma that quickly filled the room.
Let's just say that when our food was placed on the table I could barely contain myself long enough to take a picture, but oh yes I did (; The SS BLT far exceeded expectations, everything was so delicious! I even ate the tomatoes, and I don't even like tomatoes!!! The sandwich was piled high with fresh ingredients and very good salmon and pesto. I feel like pesto is always a hit or miss and this one definitely got my good marks. The salad and the vinaigrette was just as tasty and I actually finished it before I got even halfway through my sandwich.
Paul even gave me a nice piece of sauteed Ahi to try, which was the fish used in the Fish Bowl. Such a nice guy, it was obvious being so hospitable and caring was so second nature for him. I was not disappointed in the least. The fish was tender, juicy and tasty, yummmmmm!
The Fish Bowl and Belgian waffles also looked just as delicious as I was told they were. As we finished our last bites, our stomachs full with fresh, flavorful yumminess I made a mental note to make reservations on my next trip home. Paul and his talents do not disappoint! Seeing that we were getting our last mouthfuls, Paul came over to ask how we liked it, which is of course when I gave him his due praise. He inquired about our careers and then cracked a few jokes as he waved us off and welcomed us to come back as soon as we could. I really like small, great local businesses such as this one that really outshine the chains in the quality of food and service. I sincerely hope his wonderful little cafe lasts and continues to prosper. Great home-made local style food is something everyone can greatly appreciate and if you are one of those people looking for your new brunch spot then this is it! Look no further!
I Am Kawehi. 26 years of life on this earth, steadily growing, rising and blossoming like a lotus birthing through the mud, upwards into crystal waters and then to rest atop in open air as the firey sun alights my form. I wander. I imagine. I expand and seek to understand. I see. I AM.