Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef. She offers her frank assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.
By Vanessa Wolf
Cinnamon Roll Fair/Place (The sign says “Fair” but the van and business cards say “Place.” We suspect a slow-motion name change is underway) is something of a south Kihei institution.
In business since 1983, that’s three decades of sweet, sticky, doughy goodness.
However, before we focus on the eponymous main attraction, let’s take a little tour through the rest of the menu.
Breakfast takes the form of a variety of egg sandwiches and one of the best bagel and lox deals on the island. It’s pretty much all bagels or “torta rolls” and one gets the sense they originated at Costco. If not, they may as well save themselves some trouble and buy them there, because the current offering is a dead ringer.
The Meathead ($6.65) is a satisfying breakfast sandwich. You get bacon, cheese, and a heaping helping of “fluffy eggs” on the bagel of your choice – usually sesame, everything or plain.
If you grew up in a household with a lot of baby talk or think that’s the kind of thing you could get into, you’ll get a real out kick of the cheery proprietress. She’ll bring you your “eggies” and call you sweetheart and honey and fuss over you something fierce, even checking back later to make sure your eggies were to your likey-wiking.
The afternoon crew, however? Expect the complete opposite. The lunch staff is pretty dour, but maybe we just caught them on an off day or two. Cinnamon Roll Fair/Place opens at 5:30 a.m., so maybe the ladies in question had been there since 3 a.m. baking stuff. We’ll assume that’s the case.
At any rate, if you aren’t a bagel kind of person, you may prefer the Fathead ($7.25). Served on a croissant, it comes with those fluffy eggs again, as well as cheese, ham, bacon, AND sausage. It’s a breakfast meat orgy, and you’re invited.
It’s probably an entire day’s allotment of calories for some of us, and unfortunately the croissant was a day or two past its prime. It had good flavor, but one could chip a tooth on the outer layer.
When a chunk calved off, it was like a scene from a Hitchcock movie: birds swarmed in and the skies darkened. Yikes.
The Huevos Wrap ($7.25) is your only other non-bagel option. In other words, if you have Celiac’s, you’re pretty much screwed. It’s all right, but as one of the higher priced items on the menu, it feels like a rip off. Filled with eggs and beans, there wasn’t much to it. The accompanying salsa was fine, but overall not something we’d order again.
If you’re into bagels with a schmear and some lox, this could become your Mecca. $7.45 earns you a generous two-sided helping of the usual trimmings: tomato, red onion, and capers. All are fresh and in generous proportion. No complaints here.
Lunch offers a variety of sandwiches accompanied by either a small Caesar salad (quite green and crisp and a nice amount of it) or a bag of chips.
The BLT ($7.25) was a rock-solid example. The bread choices are basic – wheat or sourdough – and the tomatoes and lettuce were super fresh and in perfect proportion. We counted a solid five slices of bacon on the sandwich. All that and a bag of chips.
The Club Sandwich ($8.50) was equally on point. It wasn’t made the traditional way with three slices of bread, but considering how much wheat we consumed getting the skinny on this place, that’s probably a good thing.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. As the name indicates, cinnamon rolls are really what this joint is all about.
The fine folks make them in-house and sell 250 a day in the summer and more than twice that in the winter. A giant cinnamon roll will run you $3.65. If you’re the decadent sort, you can get it topped with walnuts, almonds, pecans, raisins, or cream cheese icing for $.75 each. Macadamia nuts will run you $.96. Extra goo (the sticky cinnamon leakage on the bottom of the pan) is free, you just have to muster the courage to ask for it.
The dough is soft and has the mild flavor of almond extract. Overall, it’s a extremely well done pastry. After 30 years at this, they are undeniable pros.
Non-sugar tooths beware: the icing is REALLY sugary. You can feel the individual grains in your mouth and any teeth that have been considering starting a cavity may get to working on that as you chew.
If you’re in the neighborhood and a fan of bagel sandwiches, this is a reliable option.
If you suddenly find yourself seized by the need for a cinnamon roll and it’s between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., then run – do not walk – to Cinnamon Roll Fair/Place and prepare for a happy ending.
We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)