This morning, I had breakfast with my favorite people in the world to have breakfast with: Steph, Shann and Kelly. I find that most people in the age range from 18-22 do not enjoy getting up before 11am on both weekdays and weekends. This is fine for weekends, when restaurants serve brunch till late afternoon, but when you want a good breakfast in the morning you must either go prior to 11am or go to a reliable all-day-breakfast place. But the morning is so pretty! So nice! Back at school I wait until the weekends for “real” breakfast fare or go out for pancakes on my own.
But back home during winter and summer breaks, I’ve got the wonderful Steph, Shann and Kelly. Yes, they are faithful breakfast food lovers and my closest friends for about as long as memory takes me back.
So this is how it worked today: at 8:30am Steph drove from Kaneohe to Kelly’s house in Kaimuki and parked it along the street. They drove down together to pick me up just a few streets down and then we headed on the freeway, off at Punahou and up Tantalus to pick up Shann. See how gas efficient we are? teehee.
We got there just at 9am, and made our way into the cozy little restaurant bordering Downtown and Chinatown. We were quickly seated by the hostess at a dainty little table for four near the open kitchen. The minute we all sat down there was a unanimous, “brrrr…shivershiver.” The seats were so cold! But we sucked it up like the brave warriors that we are and made do. Until we realized there were outside patio seats. That looked so picturesque and inviting! We kindly waved our waiter down and asked if we could move.
“Of course,” he said, and gestured us out.
And here we are!
Between the four of us, we had two orders of the french toast and two orders of the corned beef hash. That way, everyone gets half an order of a sweet dish and half savory. We are clever, no?
There are few places in the island, that do real breakfast-y foods you find on the mainland, like egg benedict, lavish pancakes and french toast, and that sort of stuff. Which explains why I am forever grateful that Grand Cafe opened up breakfast and brunch service about a year ago.
Our “sweet” dish was the Island Bananas Foster French Toast: French toast, New Orleans style, bananas sautéed butter and brown sugar ($8.50). Oooh, it was so decadent! Three thick slices of rich eggy bread fried in a sweet batter and finished with flambéed bananas and a rich golden caramel. I like my french toast thick and hearty, and this they did. It was soaked long enough so that the innards were soft, but never mushy. Perhaps the sweet caramel pool at the bottom of the dish was a little excessive, though it is hard to criticize a lovingly created dish at this local run restaurant.
We moved eagerly on to the Fresh Corned Beef Hash: Grand Cafe cured Corned Beef, topped with eggs to your liking with Potatoes O’Brien or rice ($9.55). We opted for sunny side up eggs and then realized our mistake when we didn’t have any toast to soak up the yolk with! But that was all oookay as soon as we took a bite of the corned beef hash. Fresh cured in-house, the mix of corned beef and grated potatoes were well season, not a touch too salty and pan fried till this wonderful paper thin crust formed on the outside. How did it come about? I don’t know, though shann suggested a thin egg batter? I still don’t know, but couldn’t care less. It was awesome. And then the potatoes! Each cut, oh-so-light!-oh-so-crisp! Just a sprinkle of salt was needed to tie over the red bell peppers and onions that rounded out the crunchy brown potato squares.
We lingered on the patio for a good hour and half. Taking out time, local style. All back from school for winter break. No obligations. No work. Just good food. And good friends.
Grand Cafe & Bakery
31 N Pauahi St
Honolulu, HI 96817