Lifestyle

Enjoy Fresh Food and Romance at Holuakoa Café

February 12, 2018, 3:45 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 10:58 AM
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Diners seeking the perfect location for a romantic dinner, whether it’s Valentine’s Day, an anniversary or any other occasion, Holuakoa Café in Holualoa is sure to please.

Nestled in the quaint artist town of Holualoa, the Holuakoa Café creates not only delicious, homemade meals, but a fairytale ambiance sprinkled with twinkle lights and lovely bistro music.

Owner, Chef and Founder Wilson Read, opened the café in 2007 and has gradually turned it into a hidden gem.

“My wife and I opened the restaurant in 2007 and grew it slowly,” said Read. “We started off with soups and sandwiches in the café, and smoothies and baked goods. Then we opened for daily for lunch, and three nights for dinner. We finally opened seven days a week, so it’s grown slowly but surely.”

Read explains the original concept and foundation of the restaurant was to provide good, local organic foods.

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“I’ve always been a proponent of organic foods and a healthy food system, so we established good relationships with local farms, and that was really the starting point,” he said.

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Read always loved to cook and grew up in a family whose appreciation of good food rubbed off on him.

“Everywhere I went I would cook, so I finally went to the French Culinary Institute in New York City,” said Read. “Today, we use traditional French techniques in the kitchen, but we also add little twists or nuances according to the rhythm of the farms.”

Always learning, Read gets much of his inspiration from the products he uses in his dishes. He admires the worth and value of good, clean food.

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“Everything is all homemade from scratch,” he said. “We make all our own broths—we don’t use any type of bouillons. We make our own sauces. We make all our breads and cookies, and everything’s baked on site. We use only organic flours and grains, so we are promoting a healthy food system and a healthy community.”

From the farmers from whom he purchases his products, to his employees, family and friends, Read is proud of the environment he has created within his business. He takes pride in his cooks’ abilities to freely express themselves in the kitchen and be proud of what they are creating.

“There’s a lot of freedom in the kitchen, in the sense we get to change our menu every day,” he said. “It keeps people’s enthusiasm up and encourages them to take pride in what they’re doing.”

“Everyone really cares about Holuakoa Café, the food, and what we’re doing,” Read continued. “It’s been a challenge at times to be a restaurant off the beaten path. I don’t really advertise, so it’s basically word-of-mouth and a no-name chef. Luckily, it has proven to be successful.”

Successful indeed and here are some of the standout items on the menu worth tasting.

The Organic Fuji Apple Salad is light and refreshing. It is made with Lehualani baby greens, shaved red onion, manchego cheese, toasted macadamia nuts, extra virgin olive oil and sherry wine vinegar.

Another great salad is the Holuakoa Caprese Salad, made with heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, macadama nut pesto and balsamic reduction.

Samples of entrees include a delicious Pan Roasted Fresh Catch made with creamy parmesan risotto, baby bok choy and sweet peppers and Meyer lemon butter sauce.

A hearty and tasty comfort food dish is the Hand-Crafted Ulu Gnocchi, teaming with tender, braised big island beef, aliʻi and crimini mushrooms, purple long beans, Swiss chard, black truffle goat’s cheese, brandy and parmesan cream sauce.

The cafe is located at 76-5900 Old Government Road.

For more information, visit www.holuakoagardens.com or call (808) 322-2233.

Pan Roasted Fresh Catch from Holuakoa Café. PC: Karen Rose

Enjoy a romantic champagne toast at Holuakoa Café. PC: Karen Rose

Chef Wilson Read of Holuakoa Café. PC: Karen Rose

Hand-Crafted Ulu Gnocchi at Holuakoa Café. PC: Karen Rose

Holuakoa Caprese Salad. PC: Karen Rose

Organic Fuji Apple Salad at Holuakoa Café. PC: Karen Rose

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