La Provence has excellent pastries in a breathtakingly beautiful location. Get there early (before 9am) to beat the cyclists and morning dog walkers who race there for almond and chocolate croissants, palmiers, and plump fruit tarts. The mangoblueberry scones are positively scrumptious — and huge. The plain croissants are — sincerely — the best we’ve had outside of Paris: simultaneously buttery and flaky. Perhaps because of the bakery’s high elevation it’s able to accomplish what no other Hawaii bakery can. The French owner lives up to the stereotype: a fussy, grouchy perfectionist. Full breakfasts are served al fresca, only on the weekends. It’s worth a Sunday drive to get the flawless eggs Benedict or a crepe stuffed with salmon, pesto and béchamel sauce. The egg and crepe dishes come with tender, whole potatoes, crisp on the outside and soft inside. To top it off, you also get a lovely Kula greens salad with a tart lilikoi dressing, made from fruits off the vine that tangles round the bakery’s perimeter.
The coffee is excellent; the espresso less so. It’s a family run establishment, and if the employees are having a bad day, so are you. We prefer to approach their occasional surliness as part of the entertainment; it’s like a ticket to France at a fraction of the cost. Besides, the views ease any agitation you might work up while waiting … for … your … check … Oh, forget it! Just go to the counter and pay there!
La Provence has a wood-burning pizza oven and serves dinner according to the chef ’s whim, but we can’t recommend it. Their unpredictable hours and slow service turns from charming to grating the darker and colder it gets outside.
Address: 3158 Lower Kula Rd., Kula, Upcountry
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Hours: W-Su 7am-2pm