Lunch is the most underappreciated meal you can eat. Most people recognize that a good breakfast is necessary to start the day fresh, and there are few better delights than a rich, sumptuous dinner, but few take the time to really think through lunch.
Occurring right in the middle of the day, a good lunch can return people to work or school refreshed and productive, while a bad one can leave them wasting the rest of the day as they suffer through a knotted stomach or worse.
I, too, fretted over lunch. Then I went to Paradise Cafe, located in the Queen Ka’ahumanu food court between Alexander’s and some Japanese place. Never again will I settle for quick burgers or two-item combos that make me choose between fried rice or chow mein.
The thing about Paradise Cafe is that it’s actually a cafe, minus the quaint ambience, cramped tables and artsy clientele. They offer sandwiches on focaccia, portofino pasta salad, baked potatoes, soup in a bread bowl and gelato.
Last week, Sam, Wendy and I stood gawking at the counter, alternately staring at the menu and tasting tiny spoonfuls of the dairy-free strawberry, mango, chocolate, mint and coconut-flavored Maui Gelato. At last we decided. I opted for a BLT&A—bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado—sandwich on wheat with a cup of Portuguese bean soup.
Sam and Wendy decided to split a turkey cranberry sandwich on squaw bread. We paid, got our tray and picked a choice table by the window overlooking the parking lot.
I began by dipping my spoon into the soup. Ordering soup in a Styrofoam cup is always a dicey proposition—for some reason I always think of hospital cafeterias—but there was no need to worry. The soup was hot and full of beany goodness.
As for my BLT&A, it was really, really good. And why not? They used thick bacon, lots of avocado and quality greens and tomato. And they weren’t afraid to leave the bread untoasted, either. If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s a dry BLT on dry toasted bread.
Sam and Wendy devoured their turkey cran sandwich, though not without at least one complaint.
“The bread’s a bit dry,” said Sam of her half of the sandwich. “But really, where else can you get squaw bread in a food court?”
You can order dessert—we went back for a couple cups of that wonderful gelato—but it isn’t really necessary. Each sandwich half comes topped with an “oatmeal chocolate chipper,” a small but terribly tasty cookie. All lunches should end so well. MTW