LOVE AT FIRST BITE . . . Yes, it's the name of an old George Hamilton vampire movie. But it also applies to Cafe des Amis in Paia, a cozy little restaurant on Baldwin Avenue, where you'll coo over sweet crepes filled with strawberries and cream, and savory crepes with ham and gruyere.
Now it's even more romantic with the addition of its new outdoor courtyard where you may enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner along with smoothies, wines, beers and Italian Lavazza coffees with or without liqueurs.
"The courtyard pretty much doubled our space," says owner Tina Pryor. "We're so happy with the way it turned out. It's cool and comfortable."
Cafe Des Amis in Paia has a new courtyard and its employees Soleil Beckerdorff (from left), Brianne Kerber and Chelsea Anderson relax there.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Today, it appears Wailuku will turn into a little Vietnam, with the grand opening of Wailuku Ba-Le Sandwiches and Plate Lunch in the former Treats and Sweets joining the ranks of such hugely popular Vietnamese restaurants as A Saigon Cafe and Asian Star.
Now through Sept. 20, you will get a free drink with the purchase of a sandwich or plate lunch. There are several outdoor picnic tables and you may walk up to the counter and order for there or to go.
"I actually remodeled the whole place," says owner Hung Le, who also operates three other Ba-Le restaurants on the island. "I put in stainless-steel equipment, retiled the floor, added a nice menu board with pictures of the food and now there is a dessert case."
Breads and croissants are baked fresh daily, sandwiches range from lemongrass chicken to pate with steamed pork, and there are party platters in half and full pans. You will also get free delivery with a minimum purchase of $50 in Wailuku only.
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ITALIAN AMORE . . . It's slow-mo September and Maui restaurants are putting out the deals. Longhi's in both Lahaina and Wailea is offering a five-course prix-fixe sunset dinner menu for $39.95 for those seated between 5 and 6:30 p.m. daily. Start with a Greek or Longhi salad, and then the Pomodoro or Alfredo pasta course before choosing one of five entrees. Dessert is tiramisu.
Speaking of Italian cuisine, Spats Trattoria at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa will close for good Oct. 4 to step aside for a new restaurant concept at the hotel. So rush there now to enjoy that delectable Northern Italian cuisine before it's just a fading memory.
But the Hyatt will do it up in style when it opens Umalu Sept. 26 (soft opening for lunch only). "We are excited about opening our much anticipated Umalu," says Manager James Teo. "This $8.2 million restaurant will be poolside overlooking Lanai and the Pacific Ocean. We will have the largest bar on Kaanapali."
In October, Umalu will have its grand opening with a three-day party, culminating with a food and wine festival. It will then be open Oct. 13 for breakfast, lunch and dinner. More details to come.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Ran into Chef Mark Ellman the other day, and he says his Maui Tacos will once again sponsor the annual 5K race at Whalers Village at 8 a.m. this Saturday. He also says his Mala Ocean Tavern on Front Street in Lahaina will offer 10 percent off food to kamaaina indefinitely.
Lahaina Grill is also offering kamaaina Tuesdays until the end of this month. Those with a valid Hawaii ID will receive 50 percent off entrees. Sundays and Mondays, anyone may order two entrees and get half off bottles of Australian wines selected by sommelier Richard Olsen.
Mulligans at the Wharf in Lahaina is doing a two-for-one fall kamaaina entree special. In addition to its famous fish and chips, it's added Irish Mist clam chowder, and roast beef or turkey dinners with mashed potatoes smothered in Guinness-flavored gravy.
"Football lovers can catch all the games live as they enjoy our $5 breakfasts and drink specials," says owner Kevin O'Kennedy.
There is a new supper club for Rotarians in central Maui, meeting from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Cary & Eddie's Hideaway. Owner Eddie Hernandez also wants the public to know they usually close for vacation now, but this year they will remain open throughout September.
* Carla Tracy may be called at 242-6342; email email@example.com; or fax 242-6390.