By Vanessa Wolf
You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people: Those with loaded guns and those who dig.
In this world there’s four kinds of people: Those with loaded guns, those who dig, those who stand in line for breakfast and those who would rather do anything other than stand in line, especially for breakfast.
That stated, we stood in line for breakfast at The Gazebo because that’s how The Gazebo rolls.
Despite the restaurant’s hidden location in the back of the Napili Resort, this ceaseless queue phenomenon happens every day of the week in every season.
The place is small and popular, so waiting is a given. Pack some sunblock, a book, comfortable shoes, potable water, wicking layers and any critical prescription medications… and get yer wait on.
Eventually, (40 minutes in one case and a little over an hour in the other) you are guided to one of a dozen tables in the oceanside structure and ready to a) pass out from all the coffee you consumed while roasting in the sun and b) discover what all the fuss is about.
Best to dive straight into the deep end with the much-lauded Buttermilk Pancakes ($7.50-$10.25).
What can be said about pancakes that hasn’t been said before?
They’re round. They’re doughy. They sop up whatever liquidy substances they come into contact with. Just about every culture has a version, and Wikipedia notes that “archaeological evidence suggests pancakes are probably the earliest and most widespread cereal food eaten in prehistoric societies.”
Perhaps most importantly in the case of these words, we are hard-pressed to distinguish a satisfactory pancake from a truly spectacular pancake, if there even is such a thing.
Nonetheless, in the interest of science, we ordered the Banana Pancakes ($8).
What arrived were two light and airy flapjacks, with a tall, half-inch rise to each. Although the batter is clearly placed on the griddle and the banana slices added after the fact, we came across some in most bites.
The pancakes are accompanied by butter, imitation maple syrup and the crack cocaine of the elementary school set: sweet, sweet coconut syrup.
Holy sugar rush. Go gentle or prepare to ride the white horse.
People go nuts for the stuff, which is probably why it also flanks the Pineapple Pancakes ($8).
We once again appreciated the fluffy base and fruit flavor in every bite and found the net effect reminiscent of a pineapple upside down cake.
Not normally inclined to eat this way, we left feeling like we’d carbo loaded for the next Iron Man competition.
On our next visit, we opted to throw down with slightly less sugar, but even more food.
Sun-soaked, dehydrated, and trembling a bit from free coffee overconsumption, we ordered an Eggs Benedict, Portuguese Sausage and Eggs, and a Fried Rice Plate to share.
The friendly and efficient waitress looked concerned. “Um, just to let you know, our portions are VERY big.”
Oh, is that right?
Then make that TWO Fried Rice Plates.
Don’t tell us what to do when we’re hallucinating on caffeine.
This came out as, “Whatever you suggest,” and of course, she was right.
In fact, “VERY big” is the understatement of the century.
The Fried Rice Plate ($12.25) would easily satiate a pack of wolves and belongs in an episode of Man vs. Food.
(Bet on the food.)
The mix of rice, ham, bacon, Portuguese sausage, bell pepper, onion, purple cabbage and green onion is the widest variety of ingredients we’ve ever seen in a fried rice preparation on the island.
It arrives a bit oily and lightly seasoned, but there’s a good range of flavors and the restaurant provides soy and hot sauce should you prefer more salt/zip.
Best of all, you now have leftovers for miles.
In contrast, the Portuguese Sausage and Eggs ($9.95) seemed almost diminutive in comparison.
The two eggs were a bit overcooked, but serviceable, and arrived with a moderate portion of salty country potatoes and the sausage. The three slices of accompanying tomato helped lighten things up.
The Eggs Benedict ($11.75) was our favorite of all the menu items sampled.
Although we appreciate (some) creative interpretations, the classic form is superlative as-is.
Happily, the Gazebo makes their Benedict true to tradition with an English muffin, slices of ham and a generous helping of rich hollandaise.
Granted, the eggs are fried and plated sunny side up – not poached – but the yolk was runny as it should be, so we’ll take it.
Minor egg deviance aside, the lemony hollandaise is beautifully done and we would order the dish again without hesitation.
The space is small – it’s a gazebo afterall – and can feel a bit cramped.
Nonethless, the ocean view is topped only by the fast, friendly and efficient service.
Food shows up five to ten minutes after being ordered and the staff works together to keep things moving along. There’s no direct pressure to eat and run, but the long line of sweltering humanity waiting for their turn (hopefully) serves as a reminder not to dally.
On our final visit we arrived near closing – no line! – and sampled the Monte Cristo Sandwich ($10.50).
A simplified take on the Croque Monsier, The Gazebo version is essentially a triple-decker hot ham and cheese with slices of French toast as bread.
The nutmeg is heavy-handed – not what we were expecting – and the sandwich lacked the typical accompaniment of fruit preserves.
The sandwich itself is filled with ham and turkey slices and Swiss and American cheese, but somehow doesn’t quite work. Maybe lose the nutmeg, dip the whole concoction in the egg batter, put the whole concoction on the griddle together and tuck some jelly on the side?
We would be more than happy to give it another shot in that case… and maybe even as-is, if the mood strikes.
Otherwise, if breakfast is your jam and patience your game, The Gazebo Restaurant likely offers something to make that wait worthwhile.
The Gazebo Restaurant is located at 5315 Lower Honoapiilani Rd in Lahaina. They are open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day.
Jet lagged? The infamous line starts queuing up around 6:30 a.m.
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