Sharing A Delicious Little Secret

Jo McGarry
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Friday - March 03, 2006
| | podcast Podcast |

Owner Lance Tashima and Chef Scott Lee have a winner with Abbe Brewster Caffé
Owner Lance Tashima and Chef
Scott Lee have a winner with
Abbe Brewster Caffé

There’s always this bittersweet moment when you realize you’re sitting in a restaurant that has great food - and nobody knows about it. Yet.

I had one of those moments last week, sitting in Abbe Brewster Caffé with my friends Dean and Lisa. We were eating possibly the best ahi sandwich in Hawaii, and sharing a steaming hot bowl of sari sari.

“Are you going to tell everyone?” Dean asked me, only half jokingly.

The spicy ahi sandwich is so good, that I almost thought twice.

And then I took a bite of an unbelievably good mushroom and feta cheese pizza.

“I’m telling,” I said.

So, here it is. One of the great food finds of the year so far, and one I am thrilled to be able to share.

Open for just over a year, Abbe Brewster Caffé is the dream of Iolani alum Lance Tashima. It has the lovely sort of quirkiness you often get when an owner invests a bit of himself in his restaurant. There’s no cookie-cutter feel to this coffee shop, rather a personal and inviting ambience that will only get better as word about how good the food is spreads.

A vibrant red wall to the left as you enter has an arty collection of black-and-white framed photos that add to the coffee shop appeal, while a flat screen TV (showing mostly the TV Food Network) makes a change from Internet cafes and other coffee stops. More than a coffee shop, but with casual appeal, Abbe Brewster welcomes all.

Bring your own wine, take a table outside and order up some hot crab dip ($12.25), blackened ahi with wasabi aioli ($11.75) or N.Y. steak ($17.25) as starters to a fun evening of food. Come for lunch and share the fabulous sandwiches (baked chicken Dijon ($8.50), hot crab ($9.45) or the aforementioned spicy ahi ($8.95). Or stop by, as we did, for a quick chat, and end up staying much longer because of the outstandingly good ultra-thin crust pizza selection. Just for the record - I love this pizza. Pizza dough as thin as it comes is coaxed out of the oven without breaking and comes to the table crisp, but not scorched, with toppings that include classic cheese and tomato ($9.50), pepperoni, sausage and onion ($14), and roasted chicken and spinach ($15). Scott Lee, the chef and a graduate of KCC, loves pizza too - and he’s really happy with his.

“The pizza is coming out right on the money,” he says with a grin. Everything else is, too.

“There’s so much competition in this area,” says Lee, “that we decided the only way to do well is to offer comfort food with high quality ingredients.”

The quality of the ingredients is evident from gorgeous salads, to the simple - but fabulous -sari sari.

“I’ve never been to a Filipino restaurant yet that has better sari sari than mine,” says Lee proudly.

There’s not room enough here to rave more about the food - go check it out for yourselves. Be patient, though. Right now there’s just Scott and Lance working the store, so things may be just a little slow.

But trust me, food this good is well worth the wait.

Abbe Brewster Caffe 451 Piikoi St. 596-8866

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