Every Sunday is blissfully the same. A lengthy pre-breakfast motorcycle ride leads my family, friends and me to a restaurant where we can find good conversation, heckling and much needed coffee. We spread our attention to many Upcountry restaurants, yet more often than not we end up walking the familiar stairs up to the Kula Sandalwoods Cafe.
An open view onto a immaculately landscaped lawn and tables for eight are guaranteed. Like clockwork, our one-man host, waiter and busser Jamie greets us with the same baseball cap and “Good morning guys!” He pushes two or three tables together and spouts our coffee orders to us, just to make sure we want what we always want. We do.
When it comes to ordering breakfast, my heart and stomach belong to the Lokelani, a breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs, ham, Swiss cheese and herb aioli smothered (not too heavily, just right) and served on a toasted home-baked onion bun. But if my appetite isn’t up to speed, the side order fruit bowl (a fresh and generous mix of apples, strawberries, apple bananas and pineapple) and an English muffin do me just fine.
When I can bring myself to deviate from the Lokelani, the Sandalwoods’ omelets hit the spot. Three variations offer fresh veggies, various cheeses and meats, if you like (yes, Portuguese sausage is an option), complete with a pleasant presentation. Most importantly, chef Eleanor is always attentive and delivers when I ask that she prepare my bacon extra crispy. Bless her heart.
The lunch menu, available Monday through Friday till 2: 30 p.m., is very reasonably priced. No item exceeds $10–considering the exorbitant cost of every little thing on Maui these days, I think I’ll take a minute to appreciate this.
I can flash an Alexander Hamilton and get a grilled beef steak sandwich with the flavorful herb aioli sauce, caramelized onions and cheese, or a homemade kalua pork sandwich or cheeseburger with all the fixings. Or for less than $7 I can get my mitts on a mini panini, a grilled cheese sandwich or a mixed green salad.
I’m not gonna lie: the only thing that properly tops off any fulfilling meal—at Sandalwoods or any other place—is a Chocolate Lava Flow Cake. Sandalwood’s concoction of warmed moist chocolate cake with molten chocolate lying dormant inside sells itself.
All and all, between Jamie and Eleanor and the surrounding citrus trees, ti leaves, bottle brush flowers and ferns that adorn the property, the lodge-like inside dining area and of course the Chocolate Lava Flow Cake, Kula Sandalwoods Cafe is a welcoming place that wants nothing more than to please. The easy-going Sunday brunch makes it one of the few remaining homey Upcountry restaurants where a person can eat unrushed and leave satisfied with a smile.
Who knows, Jamie might get to know your coffee and bacon preferences, too. MTW