Random Revisit: Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

meter-great-haLeoda’s is one of my favorite spots in the Hawaiian islands, so when the opportunity arose to pay them another visit I jumped on it. The drive from Kahului Airport to the west side of Maui takes you right past this local culinary gold mine, just about at the point in time you are tired of waiting in traffic.

Why hello there. It's nice to see you again.

Why hello there. It’s nice to see you again.

” The flaky messiness of the pies were part of the charm “

From the outside, Leoda’s didn’t look any different from the last time I visited. Same dirt parking lot, same glass case full of goodness, same awesome people working behind the counter. The spousal unit and I were already too full from the day’s previous eat-tastic adventures, so we just ordered a couple of apple handheld pies and a loaf of bread to bring back to the condo.

Leoda's scratch-made bread made some great toast throughout the week.

Leoda’s scratch-made bread made some great toast throughout the week.

Much later that evening, we managed to have enough room in our stomachs for a bit of dessert – out came the handheld pies. We were a little disappointed that Leoda’s changed their formula; the pies are now glazed and not dusted with baker’s sugar like they used to be. The glazing is undoubtedly easier to handle and tidier to consume than the sugar, but the flaky messiness of the pies were part of the charm.

I have to admit, the new glaze does a good job of keeping the pie in one piece.

I have to admit, the new glaze does a good job of keeping the pie in one piece.

The flavor of the filling and the crust was every bit as delicious as we remembered… but that last little bit of “wow” just seemed to be missing. Maybe we were remembering our previous experience more fondly than it actually occurred, but it seems Leoda’s has taken a teeny, tiny step backwards.

It's really all about the filling, and that's just as awesome as ever.

It’s really all about the filling, and that’s just as awesome as ever.

The good news is that they were so amazingly good to begin with, this minor setback really doesn’t make much difference. Leoda’s rating of 999 out of 1,000 tiny, angel-trained unicorns has been reduced somewhat – now they rank only around 950 unicorns. I still love Leoda’s, but I hope the sugared topping comes back one day.

+ Still the best pies on Maui
+ Lots of other great bakery options
+ It’s a great place to grab lunch
No more sugared topping. Sadface.

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
820 Olowalu Village Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 662-3600

I'm trying one of these next time. Promise.

I’m trying one of these next time. Promise.

Village California Bistro and Wine Bar

meter-good-greatI recently got the chance to have a quick bite at Village Bistro, and I was pleasantly surprised. This typically Californian bistro is located right in the middle of Santana Row, which also happens to be typically Californian. The menu has surprisingly good variety, and in spite of being a bit overly faux-sophisticated the food is well crafted and not too fancy.

” ‘Bistro’ means ‘we have small tables’ in secret restaurant language “

I dread going to Santana Row. Once I’m there I like it just fine, but trying to find a parking spot is excruciating. Once I finally managed to ditch my car in an unauthorized area, I strolled over to Village Bistro to meet some people for lunch. Ok, so it’s actually called VILLAGE California Bistro and Wine Bar, which is even wordier and more disjointed than one of my restaurant reviews. I have no idea why they insist on stylizing VILLAGE in all caps. There’s no need to yell at me, I believe you that it’s in a village. Just calm down.

In spite of the weekend lunchtime crowd that constantly swarms Santana Row, I and the rest of my party were seated quickly in a fairly cramped booth. I guess “bistro” means “we have small tables” in secret restaurant language. Our waiter and his perfectly sculpted beard stopped by right away and got us set up with drinks. I couldn’t take my eyes off the beard. It was amazing. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to eat, but I eventually settled on a turkey Reuben with fries. We put our order in, pondered the endless stream of beautiful people wandering past the window, and before we knew it our food had arrived.

If you've never seen a turkey Reuben before, now you can say you have.

If you’ve never seen a turkey Reuben before, now you can say you have.

To my surprise and delight, the turkey Reuben was outstanding. I’d put it in the top 20% of the best Reubens I’ve ever had; the turkey was lean, well seasoned, and not the slightest bit dry. The French fries were above average, and the oddly purple sauerkraut was delicious. Directly across the table from me was the world’s juiciest steak “banh mi” sandwich; I was fortunate enough to try a bite of it and it was excellent. I’ve had better Vietnamese-style sandwiches before, but this one was plenty tasty. I’d be happy to order one, and in fact I probably will the next time I visit.

I liked Village… I mean VILLAGE Bistro (and California thingy and whatever else they said they were) and I would enjoy eating here again sometime. I rate this place 20 out of 25 unnecessarily capitalized letters – certainly worth a visit but not quite what I would consider a destination. Their central location within Santana Row is convenient, assuming you are already there, their versions of culinary favorites are different enough to be interesting, and the overall quality of their food is excellent. Nothing can match the quality of that beard though. Nothing.

VILLAGE California Bistro and Wine Bar
378 Santana Row #1035
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 248-9091
Village California Bistro & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

It's just so adorably Californian I could pinch its little cheeks.

It’s just so adorably Californian I could pinch its little cheeks.

Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.