Cafe Des Amis
42 Baldwin Avenue
Paia, HI 96779
open daily 8:30-8:30
Creperies, eateries that make crepes, are known throughout Europe. Crepes are originally from the Brittany France, a thin pancake traditionally served for breakfast or dessert. The tradition of crepes is centuries old and most regions in Europe have their own name for some kind of crepe. You will find them sweet, savory and stuffed with just about any ingredient.
In Maui you can recreate this European experience at the Cafe Des Amis in Paia along Baldwin Avenue. When I asked owner Tina Prior what her original inspiration was when she and her business partner decided to open a crepe, curry and Mediterranean restaurant she says, “When we first took over this tiny space we decided we weren’t going to put in a full kitchen. So we thought what can we do here that will be different from everyone else. I am from England, and we have lots of creperies there.”
Crepes are an amalgamation of flour, milk, egg and butter, spun thin over a hot surface and browned. It a European tortilla. To this Cafe Des Amis offers stuffings like brie and apple, chicken, avocado, spinach and feta, curry, lentils, and it is folded into a square and served with a side salad. Each flavor really has its own following. I hear folks tell me, “If this place only served the lentils I would still be here all the time.” While I am partial to the spinach feta and the apple brie, my sister loves the shrimp curry, and another friend of mine always gets the Lavazza italian coffee.
The curries are done in the Indian tradition, and you can get them in a crepe, as a wrap, or in a bowl. Another favorite of mine is the mediterrenean platter. It feeds two, with hummus, olives, tepanade, roasted veggie, raita, pita and more. They have a small bar that serves beer, wine and lilikoi margaritas. Enjoy happy hour here from 4-6 daily with drink specials, and half price beer and wine.
This is not the kind of place you come to be fawned over. The kitchen is small, and it does require your patience when they are busy. The dining room is casual, and so is the service. You find your own seat where you can, and the server brings you a glass carafe of water and glasses. Cafe des Amis has been open for 10 years, and nearly three years ago they opened up an outdoor courtyard to dine in, but people are still discovering it, and the fact that it has live entertainment.
I recently visited one evening to check out the live entertainment, the Stone Violets on Wednesdays at 6:30 to 8:30. The Stone Violets are a trio, with Anick Violette, Mark Johnstone and Marcus Johnson playing acoustic rhythm and blues. They play in the courtyard, and provide a fantastic addition to the atmosphere here, all incredible musicians in their own right. The courtyard of Cafe Des Amis also comes to life with live entertainment on Thursdays when Joe Conte plays the Chapman Stick (http://www.stick.com/). Saturdays also features a live argentinian band.
The courtyard doesn’t have that many seats, but it features large benches, picnic tables and chairs with cushions. The environment is friendly, and people share tables with strangers, so let loose and enjoy the north shore environment. Their sweet crepes top off the evening perfectly, citrus and sugar, nutella and banana, strawberry and chocolate, they are all fantastic. The Lavazza Italian coffee served is unique and true to their european style.