There are only about 10 small tables at the Makawao Garden Cafe, which is tucked in the back of the Paniolo Courtyard, and all of them are outside. This, and the fact that the Sherri Reeve Gallery is next door, makes the place a very pleasant and shady spot to enjoy lunch.
After reading the menu board on a recent visit, my friend Gena and I took a seat at a two-top near the entrance of the gallery. The door was open to the gallery, so every once in awhile a delicious air-conditioned breeze cooled us down.
It was peaceful outside, with nothing more than the sound of birds and rustling leaves to disturb the tranquility while a small chicken in the “Aaron Carter stage”—older than a chick but younger than an adult—ran around.
We started with a cup of the soup of the day, which was ginger rice. We also wanted a salad, but there were too many choices. There’s the Taro Salad and the Asian Salad, but we were mostly interested in the Quinoa Salad, mainly because she’d never had quinoa before and I couldn’t be certain I remembered it correctly. Besides quinoa, the salad included baby greens, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and a basil vinaigrette.
Once that was settled, we debated over sandwiches. There was Grilled Eggplant and Mahi Mahi or Snowcrab and Avocado, but we ultimately decided on the Baby Brie and Bacon, though we asked that they leave off the bacon. Here, we opted for the whole rather than the half, which comes with a Caesar salad regardless of size.
Our soup was out lightning fast. The ginger made it extremely flavorful, and there was plenty of soft rice as well. Only a few minutes passed when our server reappeared with the rest of our food. Gena started in on the salad and I took a bite from the sandwich.
The side Caesar was tangy with garlic, while the baby greens and tomatoes on the sandwich were fresh and added just enough to the meal without drowning out the flavor of baby baked brie on baguette. The Quinoa Salad was equally awesome. And the basil vinaigrette was creamy and just strong enough with balsamic to spark my taste buds.
Gena and I agreed that everything was tasty and delicious. We also decided to call the food “stylish hippie”—offering healthy and veggie options while remaining upscale by including premium ingredients.
The cafe is also the perfect place to take a first date. There are vegan options, but you’ll also find fish, chicken, turkey and bacon if that’s what you’re into. All the seating is outside, so there are plenty of things to look at. It’s a quiet and cozy place, which allows for good conversation. And everything on the menu is affordable and allows for a variety of eating habits.
The service is quick and helpful but won’t rush you out. And if you’ve gotten this far in your date, you can take an after-meal stroll through the nearby galleries and shops. MTW