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There are two reasons you don’t have to feel guilty when ordering dessert at Cafe Laufer. One, because the light meals of soups, salads and sandwiches usually leave plenty of room in your bellies for a post-sugary treat, and two, everyone around you is doing it. Most come to this Euro-style cafe, in the heart of Kaimuki, strictly for decadence in dessert form.
Cute and quaint Cafe Laufer in Kaimuki.
And I’m not talking macaroons or scones. I’m talking desserts with fancy names, like Linzer Torte, Coupe Romanoff and Chocolate Gateau St. Honore. Just because it might be difficult to pronounce doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them with just as much enthusiasm and effort you put forth when butchering those French names. Ha! Once breaking ground with your fork and taking the first bite of pretty much any dessert they offer, you’ll soon realize that they don’t skimp on ingredients either, with each layer of cake just as rich in flavor as the next and each torte bursting with savory fillings.
Master chef and owner Cyrus Goo starts rolling out pastry dough and mixing up cake batters every morning at 4. A couple hours later, and the cafe display case hogs all the attention in the room once again. It’s the first thing you see when walking into Cafe Laufer from the street side, and the last thing you’re thinking about as you leave, every sweet tooth completely satisfied.
The dessert line-up: Fruity, chocolatey, tarty or tortey.
I usually get the Linzer torte, which, I learned from a recent visit, originates from its home city of Linz, Austria. The torte is like a pie but tastes way fancier, as fancy as its name sounds. The dark, rich, nutty crust is doused with raspberry marmalade and a touch of hazelnut. I’ve also tried their strawberry cheesecake; probably the biggest slice of cheesecake I’ve seen. In fact, all their desserts seem to be twice as large as the norm, which probably justifies the higher prices. A slice of dessert costs about $6.
Strawberry cheesecake. Nuff said!
In addition to the colorful case of desserts, two whimsical trees light up the pale-white cafe at night. They’re wrapped with several strings of lights and blown-glass ornaments that create a downtown utopia of eating outside on a moonlit patio. Entering from the parking lot side is a different scene, however. Customers make their way down a long, narrow hallway with boxes stacked up on each side before reaching the actual dining area. A true behind-the-scenes walkthrough, LOL.
If you plan on visiting Cafe Laufer, then avoid the crowds in the parking lot and cafe by showing up just after the lunch rush or in the early evening. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, so you may have to wait if you come during the busier times of day. While the food may be more on the upscale end of the spectrum, the dining is laid-back. Customers order from the register and then seat themselves before the food is brought to them to enjoy every morsel!
CAFE LAUFER • 3565 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, HI 96816 • Opens Mon-Tues 5-9pm, Wed-Thurs, Sun 10am-9pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm • 808-737-7717 • www.cafelaufer.com