Red Water Cafe Dedicated to the Enjoyment of Fine Food

January 26, 2017, 1:00 PM HST (Updated January 26, 2017, 2:53 PM)
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    When Executive Chef David Abrahams stepped outside his newly opened restaurant in 2010 and started hanging up his shingle, he started a traffic jam in the quaint town of Waimea.

    “I was hanging the Red Water Cafe sign out front and drivers started slamming on their breaks,” said Abrahams. “People were yelling ‘Oh my God, they’re coming back!’”

    Since its opening in 2010, the Red Water Cafe and Chef David have won numerous awards and been widely recognized as one of the finest cuisines and dining values in the Hawaiian Islands.

    Abrahams moved to Waimea in 1998 when the building currently known as the Red Water Cafe was a restaurant called Edelweiss. He noticed, although the dining establishment was called Edelweiss, the locals referred to the building as the Red Water Cafe because it was the name of the diner back in the 1970s.

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    “I moved here in ’98 and everyone would say, ‘Yeah meet you at the Red Water,’ and I was like where the heck is the Red Water Cafe, because I knew it as Edelweiss,” said Abrahams. “It turns out, folks never stopped referring to it as the Red Water Cafe. It’s kind of like the gas station right around the corner. It’s called Minute Stop, but locals still refer to it as Sparky’s because it was Sparky’s back in the day. Because of that, I felt it was the natural thing to bring back the Red Water name.”

    In addition to keeping the name, Abrahams also wanted to maintain the philosophy of offering really good food at really good prices. He envisioned the Red Water as a place for people to come and enjoy themselves, play music, share a drink with friends and have a good time.

    His vision has come true and today the Red Water Cafe is popular, bustling dining establishment frequented by locals and visitors alike.

    A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Abrahams professional career boasts experience from acclaimed Sedona and La Pasta Restaurants in California, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the famous Polo Lounge private dining room.

    After moving to Hawaiʻi, Abrahams took lead positions at Merman’s Restaurant in Waimea and the Fairmont Orchid.

    After getting his fill of what he calls “corporatized” food, he wanted to get back to the classical style of cooking, which he proudly brings to Red Water Cafe.

    “All these hotels have these fantastic kitchens and they don’t use them,” he said. “They have bakeries with pre-bought bakery goods, they have butcher shops with precut meats. They don’t do any of the things we were taught to do in the classical style of cooking. It’s kind of wiped out the whole concept of creativity.”

    When it came to opening his restaurant, Abrahams wanted to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible and create the best food possible at a reasonable price.

    “My thing is fresh and local, and when I say local it means the ingredients come from within 30 miles of your place,” said Abrahams. “I get a lot of my stuff from backyard gardens from people who grow too much. Instead of letting it go to waste, they sell it to us for a fair market price.”

    The atmosphere of the Red Water Cafe is cozy and warm. The staff is professional and courteous.

    It’s the perfect location for a romantic dinner for two, or a lovely outing with friends.

    Abrahams prides himself on breaking the rules and taking the time to do things authentically—and it shows. His food is creative, unique and delicious.

    “If we do southern-style barbecue, it will taste like southern-style barbecue,” he said. “We will take the time to do it right. Sometimes great food is super labor intensive and it takes a lot of time to make some of our dishes. We’re happy to do it and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

    Red Water Cafe is located at 65-1299 Kawaihae Road in Waimea. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 3 to 11 p.m. and closed on Sunday. For reservations, call (808) 885- 9299.

    Red Water Cafe’s Ah Tataki Salad with rubbed ahi served rare and tossed with local greens, ponzu vinaigrette, topped with shaved beets finished with garlic aioli and tobiko. Karen Rose photo.

    Red Water Cafe’s Berkshire Long Bone dry aged pork chop keawe smoked with mashed potato, red wine Hamakua mushroom demi and farm to table vegetables. Karen Rose photo.

    Red Water Cafe’s butterscotch pot a creme and cookies. Karen Rose photo.

    Red Water Cafe’s house-cured Scottish Salmon and Hawai‘i Island goat dairy cheese. Karen Rose photo.

    Red Water Cafe’s in-house smoked fish special. Karen Rose photo.

    Red Water Cafe’s Old Fashioned Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce. Karen Rose photo.

    Red Water Cafe’s Red Wine Sauteed Mushrooms with Sweet Onion Veal demi-glace topped with an organic egg topped with pesto and served with garlic butter seasoned sourdough toast points. Karen Rose photo.

    Karen Rose
    Karen Rose is a writer and journalist living on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel, arts and entertainment. She never met a food she didn't like—except black licorice.
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