As you round the last bend in the winding road into Hanalei, youll see Postcards Cafe in the old green Hanalei Museum. Despite its modest exterior, Postcards surprises you with a carefully crafted dining experience, an interesting, thoughtful cuisine served in a comfortably informal atmosphere. You enter Postcards from a small porch.
Inside, youll find a surprisingly spacious dining room with open beamed ceilings and soft lighting that makes everything look at once clean and relaxing. Vintage Hawaiian postcards appear under glass table tops and in collages on the walls, along with black and white photographs of old Hanalei, even old-time ukuleles.
Dinner is cafe-style informal, the tables without linens, and the plantation style windows, with the modern addition of screens, sliding open for evening breezes, or closed for occasional showers. The cuisine is exceptional, both in concept and execution, and everything is generous and fresh, prepared without meat, poultry, or chemicals.
Taro fritters ($9) make a wonderful appetizer, the small patties deep-fried and served with a tangy home-made mango chutney. In salmon rockets ($10), tender slices of salmon are rolled in layers of lumpia and nori and quick fried. Summer rolls ($9) are delicious, as is soup.
The dinner menu is small, only seven entrees featuring local, organically grown vegetables, or fresh island fish. Least expensive are pasta primavera or a Chinese vegetable dish with roasted tofu and a tamari ginger sauce ($15). Fresh ono was cleanly cooked, moist, flavorful and flaky, and although we sampled all four sauces on the menu and enjoyed each unique flavor, particularly the coconut, we preferred the fish cleanly grilled.
Of the three pasta choices, two vegetarian, we liked Seafood Sorrento, a combination of shrimp with medallions of all four fresh fish on the menu. It was delicious, gently seasoned in a sauce of mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, and as requested, only light on garlic ($22). The portion was so generous that our son raved about the leftovers the next day!
Children can choose pasta or quesadilla ($8). If you cant decide, the kitchen is ready to prepare your request, or you can opt for a beautiful local salad, filling a whole plate, for $8 ($5 for smaller size).
Desserts are elegant. Passion fruit mousse arrives in a lovely colored tumbler, and chocolate cake is amazingly light for its dense chocolate flavor. The wine list is small, though well-selected, and includes some delicious organic wines, or you can try organic smoothies and juices ($5),
or organic Kona coffee ($3).
Waitpersons are friendly, following the example of the owners who circulate among the guests, stopping to chat and give sound vacation advice to diners whom they treat as guests.
Postcards Cafe is a must stop on the north shore for excellent, imaginative cuisine served in an attractive, comfortably informal dining room. If you arent a vegetarian, Postcards might even change your mind!
For more restaurant reviews, consult your Kauai Underground Guide.