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Discover culinary Paradise right here in Lahaina

By Staff | Oct 7, 2010

From left, Bob Loar, Executive Chef Larry Badua and Pat Loar sit before their crepe feast (from left): front row — The Veggie Works, Loco Moco, Aloha Sunrise and Chicken Paniolo; back row — The Yogi, The Nice One, Panini Sandwiches, Four-Berry Blitz and The Mediterranean. Photo by Rob Reed.

LAHAINA — An old adage describes Lahaina Town’s splendid new cafe: “One finds paradise only after he returns home from his adventures.” And right here at 170 Papalaua St., you, too, will discover Paradise Found Creperie and what a treasure it is!

First impressions? It’s inviting! The immaculate interior with pastel shades of green, stainless steel table tops, spotless floor and an attractive outdoor patio with three green umbrellas welcomes the overflow guests at lunch time.

And devotees of crepes, you will find this is Lahaina’s only genuine creperie featuring tissue-thin Breakfast Crepes, Savory Crepes, Panini Sandwiches and their heavenly Sweet Crepes — all healthful, all freshly made to order!

“About seven years ago, my son Ryan and I met in Vegas for a fun weekend and noticed all the traffic at the Paris Hotel’s Crepe Kiosk and ordered a crepe,” said Pat Loar, co-owner of Paradise Found.

“We spent the whole afternoon creating our own menu if one day we had our own crepe place. It became my mission that day that I would open a restaurant that all of my family could participate in and hopefully carry on for generations to come.

“Well, it happened a year ago last October. My oldest son, Ryan Urig, and a close family friend, Jojo Vasquez, were instrumental in helping get our feet off the ground, creating the menu and serving as our moral support,” he continued.

“My daughter-in-law, Jen, also plays a big role in marketing and finance while awaiting arrival of our first grandchild. I also have a daughter, Lesley, in Los Angeles, who does the weekly drawings for the winner of a free lunch. We have 12-year-old Tenneh and a four-year-old, Addy, who are our goodwill ambassadors. We want the whole family to participate.

Well, Paradise Found certainly has the support of successful chefs. Son Ryan is executive chef at the Banyan Tree Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; and Jojo is Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s sous chef. And what’s more, Morimoto attended Paradise Found’s grand opening a few months ago!

And the talented, innovative chef chosen to create these savory gems is Larry Badua, a graduate of Baldwin High School who had a passion for cooking.

“I started at a fast food chain, then was recruited to work at The Westin Maui with Executive Chef Tony Edington, who believed that I could be successful in anything I chose to do,” said the talented chef.

“Opportunities kept coming my way. After working at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort, I went to the Ritz-Carlton and at the same time took a casual job with the Four Seasons. Then I went to the Grand Wailea and back to the Ritz-Carlton for five years — two years in the kitchen and three years at the Banyan Tree Restaurant,” he continued.

“With all my experience in the famous resorts on the island,” Larry added, “I wanted to bring fine taste to Lahaina and let the community enjoy affordable, first-class cuisine in the Lahaina Town environment.

And Larry has done just that, for Paradise Found Creperie is run just like a five-star restaurant serving exceptional cuisine.

Inside, you’ll be drawn immediately to the Paradise Gelato display case featuring their selections and the freshest seasonal ingredients available. All gelatos are made in-house — you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store!

The gelato case and its equipment are top-of-the-line and made in Italy, where all the 100 percent pure quality flavorings come from, too. And oh, what flavorings: Vanilla Velvet, White Chocolate-Lavender and Hazelnut to name three. For holidays, they’ll feature Carmel Apple for Halloween, Pumpkin for Thanksgiving and Egg Nog for Christmas.

Now, getting to the fabulous crepes — the Crepe Griddle, also made in Italy, is where you can watch Chef Larry actually make your crepe of choice through the display case at the counter. Breakfast Crepes, Savory Luncheon Crepes and Sweet Crepes — Chef Larry is a pro at folding your crepe right on the griddle!

And remember: everything is house-made, even the dressings. This is a place of quality — nothing artificial!

We began our taste treat with four Breakfast Crepes. The Aloha Sunrise features Portuguese sausage adding spice to scrambled eggs, spinach and melted Swiss cheese.

The Veggie Works is the way to go with eggplant nestled in eggs, caramelized Maui onion, peppers, squash, marinara and cheddar — for you vegetarians, how healthful is that?

Third was a new take on an old favorite: a Loco Moco with chopped hamburger and egg stuffed in a crepe with rice and gravy served on the side. It’s a Loco Moco like no other!

We raved about Chef Larry’s creation, the Yogi, consisting of nonfat yogurt, fresh berries, bananas, walnuts and honey — what a way to start your day! Everyone deserves a Yogi!

All Breakfast Crepes are served with their house-made granola. It’s so delicious with macadamia nuts, you’ll probably ask for seconds. And the latest word is Paradise Found Creperie is now serving pancakes and breakfast sandwiches!

For lunch or dinner, one couldn’t have a more healthful crepe than the Mediterranean stuffed with spinach, artichokes, tomato, cucumbers, feta cheese, oregano, black olives and a red wine vinaigrette served with a mixed green salad or chips.

Another really savory crepe is called The Nice One. My partner commented after the first taste, “This is really nice!” And so it is with turkey, bacon, mushrooms, melted cheddar, dill and a remarkable mornay sauce.

The Paniolo is outstanding stuffed with marinated chicken, onion, garlic, mushrooms, melted cheddar, cilantro and chipotle sour cream.

Four salads are offered on the menu: a Caesar, Greek, Caprese and a Paradise Salad, all crisp and freshly made with the greens coming from Upcountry Farms, of course!

A hint of my own making — for an impromptu gathering of friends, I ordered all five of the Savory Crepes, cut them into one-and-a-half-inch squares, heated them in the toaster oven and voila — hot pupus your guests will rave about!

The same method applies with the Breakfast Crepes — for an easy morning buffet, there is nothing better to start one’s day than ham, sausage, eggs and melted cheese in a miniature, savory, hot crepe! You could modestly take credit, but do be honest and give it right back to Paradise Found Creperie!

Two outstanding Panini Sandwiches served on fresh local herbed ciabatta bread — not yet on the menu but ask for them anyway — are the Corned Beef and the Chicken. Each comprise a full, satisfying meal. Both are served with a fresh green salad.

For dessert, enjoy the Mixed Berry Compote (called the Berry Blintz), where all the berry juices come together inside the crepe. With blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry, it’s a Four-Berry Bonanza!

The Tokyo-style crepe shown on the menu cover is the perfect crepe for nibbling on as you walk through Lahaina Town. It’s prepared cone-style with your favorite combination tucked inside.

And for those who enjoy a frosty beer or a glass of wine with a fine meal, ice buckets are available for you to BYOB!

Keiki are not forgotten, for their savory crepes include Peanut Butter and Jelly, Pepperoni Pizza or Ham and Cheddar Cheese. Sandwiches offer Tuna Melts, Pepperoni Pizza or Turkey and Swiss Cheese. A scoop of any flavor of gelato is served in a cup with rainbow sprinkles for only $3, and a chilled Capri Sun is served with each order.

Paradise Found uses all local products and supports “Go Green and Keep Our World Clean” using biodegradable and compostable products.

And good news: Paradise Found is available to cater all celebrations! Just call 661-1747.

So now you don’t have to roam the world seeking Paradise — you’ll find it right here in Old Lahaina Town!

Paradise Found is open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.