In the less than two years that Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop has been open, it’s reached near-legendary status with island pie lovers and has become a favorite for those of us lucky enough to grind there. The little Olowalu outpost has nearly five stars on all its Yelp reviews and makes fans of visitors and residents alike. Now they have something for the early birds to love: a breakfast menu designed by Chef Marcus Whisenant and Pastry Chef Shelley Taylor.
The breakfast borrows heavily from proven winners of Leoda’s lunch and dinner. Whisenant’s ahi Benedict is the shining glory–glistening, seared ahi cross sections resting on a perfectly poached egg bathed in Hollandaise sauce. It mirrors its counterpart, the seared ahi sandwich, on the inside with avocado, pesto made with local basil, apricot tomato jam. It’s all built atop of rye toast. If rye isn’t your thing, feel free to swap it out with one of their other homemade breads like butter white or multigrain, but give it a try with rye at least once. It’s crazy good.
The Ham’n Benedict harkens back to the Ham’n Sandwich–the same amazing Duroc ham makes a breakfast appearance with the pesto, apricot tomato jam and poached egg. Warning: this may make you want to order a lunch Ham’n drenched in Hollandaise. But if you’re neither a pork or fish-atarian, then the Veggie Pattie Bene on multigrain may hit the spot. I’ve even seen pastrami lovers sub in their favorite meat into the Benedict, so I’m convinced that the staff here will take kindly to special requests.
Leoda’s Kitchen menu is based on old school diner charm and homemade bread and pies. Then they add veggies plucked from island soil, handmade jams and sauces and high quality meats and cheeses to go with it all. Leoda’s is keen to add bits that appeal to our modern palates–sprigs of watercress, fresh local fish, garlic aioli. For this reason, the breakfast hour is quickly buzzing with foodies and on social media sites, so much so the morning I came in to try the Ahi Benedict they had sold out on the weekend. So I waited for the fish monger to show up.
“The fresh ahi is so beautiful to work with,” sous chef Richard Barnes told me. “The breakfast menu is hearty and all of the ingredients are wonderful. People are really taking to it. This weekend we got so busy, it was a rainy day on Saturday, we got cleared out of the ahi. But it’s worth the wait.”
Chef Taylor’s homemade yogurt was also something I had to try. You rarely hear of a kitchen making yogurt, though before the industrialization of the dairy industry that was pretty common. The parfait starts with her yogurt, then a layer of her granola (coconut, almond and honey) and is finally topped off with bite-sized strawberry chunks. Greek yogurt is one of the trendiest things on the planet to eat, and it’s no wonder Leoda’s made their own yogurt, though theirs transcends Chobani times 10. The smooth and tangy fresh yogurt meets up with Taylor’s crunchy granola with almonds and honey and the tart strawberry. I kept dipping in to finish all the yogurt.
The decadent “Eggs, Frittatas & Benes” section of the menu may lead you to believe that you can skip the “Bake Shop” list, but don’t give in. Breakfast here requires appetizers. Sip on a coffee while you nibble on a savory biscuit before the next course comes. It’s the lightest, fluffiest biscuit you’ll ever taste, and it has cheddar and herbs throughout. I sure hope they come up with a gravy to pour all over this, but for now, their delicious salted butter will do nicely.
The frittatas are scrambled eggs enveloped in a casserole of veggies and meat. The strata at Leoda’s includes potato, cheddar, onions, ham and mushroom in one version, and a veggie-friendly Chef’s Farm selection in the other. Both are accompanied by creme fraiche.
Oh, and if you’re in the mood for a breakfast sandwich, just ask. Theirs is served on soft fresh baked Hapa bread with an egg fried your way and bacon, butter lettuce, avocado, sprouts and cheddar. We added tomato to ours.
If you’ve previously dined at Leoda’s, then you may be familiar with their hand-held pies. These treats have forever changed my perception of driving the Pali. Once it was a drag, but nothing can be a drag when you have a hand-held pie in your hand. At lunch and dinner they come in sweet and savory, veggie, fruit and meat styles. Leoda’s kept the hand-held pie on the breakfast menu with a bacon and egg version that features spinach cream cheese, and a meatless version of that with just egg and vegetables. These hot pockets of flaky crust and delicate cheesy egg filling don’t disappoint. Lucky, I don’t commute over the Honoapi’ilani Highway or these would be calling my name every morning.
The sweet side of their breakfast gets its perfection from French toast served two ways. There’s a traditional French toast made with Launiupoko eggs and butter white bread, but you can swap that to hapa or multigrain just as easy. But their coconut French toast is so pretty that you may hesitate to dig in. The egg battered bread is coated and crusted with coconut, then fried. Then the slices are doused in a coconut creme Anglaise that’s subtle but not too sweet. It aligns perfectly with the flavors in the bread and adds extra moistness to the dish. A healthy dose of cut strawberries covered mine, adding color and flavor to the French toast.
Breakfast starts at 7am and when you arrive the dessert case is already packed full of pies ready to go home with you. The coffee is self-serve, and you can actually fix yourself a cup while you figure out your breakfast courses. Manager Rosie Robbins says the whole team works like a family, and that’s what keeps the charm of Leoda’s going strong. When you dine here from the counter to the table, the feeling of gnashing at a farmhouse, Grandma’s or a favorite diner is very much alive.
“Front of the house and back of the house, all work as together as a team,” says Robbins. “We move together to make this experience the best we can for our customers. Everyone is happy with what they do here–You’re going to get a lot of smiles when you come here. It’s contagious.”
Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop
820 Olowalu Village Rd.