Quick, stress-easing treats


POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2009

About a decade ago I was predicting the demise of the full-sized restaurant in favor of smaller specialty boutiques catering to the busy road warriors and time-addled consumers less willing to stomach a meal of two hours or more. I never would have imagined that such a scenario would be abetted by the lack of money to go out.




Fendu Boulangerie


        Manoa Marketplace (near Longs) » 988-4310

Food: ;*;*;*


Service: ;*;*;*


Ambience: ;*;*;*


Value: ;*;*;*


Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays Cost: About $20 for two


Ratings compare similar restaurants:
        ;*;*;*;* - excellent
        ;*;*;* - very good; exceeds expectations
        ;*;* - average
        ;* - below average.


Money fears have no doubt changed behaviors. More people are curtailing restaurant expenses by cooking their own food, and going one step further, by buying seeds or seedlings in hope of turning a couple feet of land into a cornucopia for their table. (Good luck with that, city mouse! I've tried and been lucky to reap one tomato salad after four months.)

Through past downturns, restaurateurs have proven to be a daring lot, never retreating from the desire to serve the public. But as businesses close, I sense more trepidation. It takes real chutzpah to think you're the one to beat the odds.

I'm glad Niel Koep took the risk in opening Fendu Boulangerie at Manoa Marketplace. The concept makes sense. The worse things get, the more people cutback on large purchases, but few can live ascetically very long without some emotional trauma. The solution is to brighten long periods of suffering with little rewards for our good (mostly) behavior.

Koep, formerly the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai executive pastry chef, brings his skill to work in turning out French bread, pastries, sandwiches and pizza from a small, takeout storefront near Longs.

If you want to hang out to eat, there are a few tables scattered around the marketplace property, but it's a little uncomfortable because you get the feeling the tables are intended for other eating spots. I don't imagine people would drive out of the way for a sandwich or pizza, which abound elsewhere. Pizzas are healthier than the typical fast-food version and made with fresh ingredients, but lack zip, unless you're biting into one of the jalapenos in the Fire Cracker Shrimp Pizza ($10.50 for 8-inch/$17 for 14-inch). Maybe I caught them on a bad day, but even the Hamakua Mushroom Mania pizza was disappointing, with just a spare sprinkling of mushrooms.

They make a killer Black Forest Ham sandwich ($6.50), though, with bacon, lettuce, tomato, Dijon mustard and Provolone, which I enjoyed more than the prime rib-eye sandwich ($8.50) that comprised more bun than meat.

The bread shop opens at 7:30 a.m., and sandwiches and pizzas are available from 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Fendu's forte is its pastries and baked goods, from a loaf of seaweed-flavored nori bread, to apple cakes to chocolate chip cookies with huge squares of chocolate, to pretty miniature desserts like a Valhrona dark chocolate mousse ($2.75) with passionfruit sauce offered up as a surprise in the bottom of the cup.

Here, girlfriends can still treat each other to exquisite desserts, without breaking the bank.

Nadine Kam's restaurant review appears every Wednesday in the Star-Bulletin. Restaurants are reviewed anonymously. Meals are paid by the Star-Bulletin.