Coffee at the Palace

Coffee at the Palace

This is an old-time theater with a section for the orchestra, long flowing curtains of the main screen, and the slow rise of the seats that assure everyone of a good view of the show.

The ceiling is ornate and the chairs are wood frames holding luscious cushions that cradle you as you watch the movie.

It is a theater from a time when people went to see and be seen and it was an occasion for dressing up. It was built in the 20s and reflected all the hope and aspirations of a people who had survived the war to end all wars. A people that were enjoying a bit of respite before facing the poverty and sadness of the crash of that decade.

And now on a little side street off the main track of Hilo sat the theater that had seen so much history and had been graced by rich and poor alike. It is a place where you can feel the epoch of the cinema of times gone by.

Now it has not only been restored for classic film viewing but has also become a place to meet others, sit and talk. In the foyer are a series of round tables with comfortable chairs that dot the tile floor providing just what is needed to fulfill this purpose.

As you enter the right set of double doors is a small room a little larger than a closet. There is a window-like affair that opens onto the foyer. The little stall produces the rich intoxicating smells of the lowly coffee bean that has been roasted and ground to perfection.

Yes, this is the Palace Grounds Café which beckons us to enter. We step up to the barista and owner Alexander. He is man with a bowler hat, handlebar mustache, and the appearance of one who knows his coffee! If you have the good fortune, that he prepares your coffee, you are in for a treat!

I order a latte for my wife and from the menu and try to decide what would go well on a rainy Hilo afternoon.

There it is — a cortado! I order right away and within a few minutes our drinks are ready. We sit and watch the rain and sip the coffee delights.

My cortado is a creamy rich black-as-night and thick as molasses double shot of espresso. On top of the ample crema is a frothed dollop of heavy cream. This completes the presentation which is a major part of the very drinking of coffee.

This cortado is served in double-walled rust-colored espresso cup of glass. No, No paper cup served here. This is not one of those chain coffee houses that show no respect for the art of coffee.

It is evident to me that the barista had preheated the cup and this added to the mysticism of sampling one of the best cortados I have had in a long time.

It is sad that there are not more places like the Palace — places to drink in the past, talk of the present, and let steaming hot espresso warm your soul.