Walking into Cafe Des Amis is like stepping into a bohemian bistro set on the sidewalks of San Francisco. My dining companion and I decided to categorize the cafe, and its eclectic artwork, as “nouveau chic,” and immediately took a seat at one of the natural-finish wood grain tables.
As she noted the overhead music was an acid-jazz remix of Shirley Bassey’s “Where Do I Begin?” I glanced around at the boldly colored, polka dotted papier-mache fish and other characters–dancing cancan dancers on a surfboard in a barreled wave, for instance—that adorn the walls.
Ornate blue and teal glass bottles filled with drinking water were placed on occupied tables. Faintly distinguishable accents of German and Latin—and possibly Canadian?—dialect melded the conversations of nearby diners. The decidedly global ambience prompted my dining companion and I to discuss our worldly travels.
“When I went to France, all I had was pain au chocolat and peaches,” she said. “Well, that and hash-tipped cigarettes.”
A quick look at the menu showed the Mediterranean Platter ($10.95) to be the greatest value in appetizers for those who are truly hungry. The platter—one size only, built for two—comes with hummus, olives, yogurt mint dip, marinated feta, garlic mushroom salad, roast vegetables, tomato pesto salad and pita bread.
The cafe features a decent selection of Indian curries, as well. All come served in a bowl big enough to wear as a helmet and filled with rice, mango chutney and fresh tomato chutney—a sort of sweet and spicy relish that typically accompanies South Asian food.
There’s a lean beef and mushroom curry with coconut, garlic, ginger and Goan spices ($11.75), a creamy coconut shrimp curry with ginger, cinnamon and Bengal spices ($14.95), or my choice for the night, a vegetable curry ($10.95). This one’s a mild mix of spinach, carrots, cauliflower and potato with Tamil spices and tomato. I would’ve preferred it a bit spicier but it was a hearty, satisfying meal nonetheless.
A slightly less colossal, and therefore more lunch-worthy, option is the Curry Wrap. These curry and rice fillings ($8.25-$10.25)—chicken, shrimp and coconut, vegetable, or beef and mushroom—come in a large wheat wrap with mango chutney and cucumber raita, another South Asian condiment that’s basically a seasoned yogurt dip.
But let’s face it—aside from the globally chic ambience and kooky artwork, Cafe Des Amis is all about the crepes.
The crepe is a type of very thin pancake that, because of its French origin and delicately sweet composition, is like a more sophisticated comfort food than, say, peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese. Crepes, whether filled with savory fare like ham and Gruyere cheese or sweet stuff like grated orange peel and Grand Marnier, are a great anytime meal.
All crepes at Cafe Des Amis—the only creperie on Maui, in fact—come served with house salad and sour cream. And the combinations are as surprising as they are flavorful, like the Italian lentil and tomato stew with pesto and mozzarella ($8.50). My dining companion selected a chicken, avocado, mozzarella, tomato and Caesar dressing ($9) crepe.
My usual favorite is the Brie and Avocado Crepe with Apple and Black Pepper ($8.50), followed by either a Strawberries and Cream ($4.75) or Nutella ($3.25) Crepe. Sometimes I even go buck-wild and order the customized crepe with banana, strawberries and Nutella.
This time, however, my companion and I opted for the Maui Cane Sugar with Lime Juice ($3.25) Crepe. It proved to be a light, tangy and refreshing choice.
“You’re such a citrus girl,” she said. MTW