Most restaurants that are famous for a special dish don't reveal their secret. Take Joe's on the Green on the south shore of Kauai. Chef Michael's Eggs Benedict are its breakfast specialty but when it comes to the sauce, Chef Michael's lips are sealed. Same with Jonathan Ota's pancakes at Tip Cop Cafe in Lihue, also on Kauai. Try as I may, I have yet to get him to spill the beans on his grandfather's secret pancake recipe.
Not so at The Gazebo Restaurant at Outrigger Napili Shores on Maui. For over 20 years, this family-owned, breakfast-and-lunch-only joint packs people into its 14 table dining room at the ocean's edge. The line starts forming at 7:00 in the morning--yet the restaurant doesn't open until 7:30--and I'm told the line doesn't let up until the restaurant closes at 2:00 in the afternoon. I stood in the hot sun for 35 minutes yesterday morning waiting for a table. I ordered the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pancakes. When I asked Sherrie, my server, what was the secret to the famous pancakes, I fully expected her to shake her head and say, "Sorry. Can't say." Or, "There is only one person here who knows and that's the chef. He's not talking." But she didn't. She announced to me and the two nearby tables--and the folks walking on the ocean side path outside the window--the big secret. And, then, she wrote it down for me on the back of a business card. Here is what it says:
Turns out, it's not the pancakes that are all that special--they're plain ol' buttermilk--it's the topping.