Creperies—eateries that make crepes—are popular throughout Europe. Originating in France, crepes are thin pancakes traditionally served for breakfast or dessert. They come in sweet and savory, and are stuffed with just about any ingredient you can imagine.
Mauians can recreate this Old World experience at Cafe Des Amis, one of many jewels in Paia’s crowded culinary crown. “When we first took over this tiny space we decided we weren’t going to put in a full kitchen,” says owner Tina Prior. “So we thought, what can we do here that will be different from everyone else?” Prior is from England, and quickly thought of a creperie.
Crepes are an amalgamation of flour, milk, egg and butter, spun thin over a hot surface and browned. To this Cafe Des Amis adds fillings like brie, apple, chicken, avocado, spinach, feta, curry or lentils; the whole concoction is folded into a square and served with a side salad. Each flavor has its own following. “If this place only served the lentil crepes I would still be here all the time,” one patron tells me. I’m partial to the spinach and feta, while my sister and dining companion loves the shrimp curry.
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 is the Mediterranean platter. It feeds two, with hummus, olives, feta, pesto, roasted veggies, raita and pita.
They have a small bar that serves beer, wine and lilikoi margaritas. Happy hour runs from 4-6pm daily with drink specials like half-price beer and wine.
This isn’t the kind of place you come to be fawned over. The kitchen is small, and it does require patience when they’re busy. The dining room, like the service, is casual.
Cafe des Amis has been open for 10 years, and nearly three years ago they opened up a courtyard with live entertainment, though people are still discovering it. On a recent evening visit, I checked out the Stone Violets (they play Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30pm). They’re a trio—featuring Anick Violette, Mark Johnstone and Marcus Johnson—and their sound provided a fantastic addition to the outdoor atmosphere. (The courtyard also comes to life on Thursdays when Joe Conte plays the Chapman Stick, while Saturdays feature an Argentinian band.)
This is the way to do Des Amis: stretch out on benches, picnic tables and cushioned chairs, perhaps sharing a table with strangers, add a sweet crepe—citrus and sugar, Nutella and banana, strawberry and chocolate—and a Lavazza Italian coffee, and enjoy a pleasing blend of Europe and North Shore.