Saturday, April 2, 2011

Strawberry Fare, Wellington

Tonight Mr Cake and I had a bit of a dessert craving. I had one of those vouchers for $40 worth of food and drink at Strawberry Fare, so we wandered down for some belly-stretching indulgence.

It was our first visit to the Wellington Strawberry Fare, though the Christchurch one (which is currently out of commission, though the website promises they'll be back soon) was a regular haunt. The restaurant is a wee bit dowdy - the decor looks about 20 years old, it felt a bit dated - and felt both too cluttered and a bit big and empty at the same time. We were asked to wait, since we hadn't booked, and were offered a table almost straight away, though I felt we were almost chided for not booking (we weren't at all worried about waiting, incidentally).

We were offered menus, and were impressed at the large selections of desserts on offer. It took me mere seconds to locate my dessert - really, how can one turn down "Chocolate Madness?" - and Mr Cake honed in on his choice too. The servers were fairly attentive and friendly so we placed our order.

One of the biggest problems with dessert restaurants is that they're always such a tease - you see the extravagent plates being ferried to other tables and become irrationally impatient for yours to arrive (well, I do). Eventually (it really wasn't all that long) ours arrived - Mr Cake's Devil's Dream cake is on the left, and my Chocolate Madness (it does look quite mad, doesn't it?) is on the right.

Sadly, we were a little disappointed with the desserts - the decor lowered our expectations (funny how that works) so it wasn't too much of a surprise, but it really seemed quantity triumped over quality here. Mr Cake thought the dark chocolate mousse in his cake was okay, but it wasn't very flavoursome - not the intense chocolatey flavour the menu implied. The white chocolate layer was grainy and quite unpleasant to eat. I am aware it is quite easy to split white chocolate mousse - I've done it myself more than once - but it's a bit different when you're charging customers for it!

The Chocolate Madness was a bit hit-and-miss. The ice-cream had a nice chocolatey hit, though it was a bit on the sweet side. The brownie had a good texture (not too dry!) but again lacked the deep chocolate flavour I expected. It also probably would have been improved had it been warmed. I quite liked the dense chocolate pave in the middle of the plate - this was rich and hit the spot - and the raspberry coulis added a good tang. However, the white chocolate pannacotta was just odd - it's almost indescribable, I'm not sure if there was an accent flavour I couldn't quite pick up but there was something strange going on. Coating everything in chocolate sauce and rasberry coulis made it hard to taste items - especially the pannacotta - individually.

I think that this is the sort of place I would have enjoyed when I was younger (and I am confident I know many people who still would love it, hello family!) - now I'm maybe a bit too picky. The portions were certainly very generous (neither of us finished) and nothing was overly bad - just a bit too sugary for us.

Since we weren't too enamoured with it, I wasn't thrilled when we got to the counter to pay and realised our voucher isn't valid on Saturdays. Argh! So, if you are keen to give Strawberry Fare a go (maybe steer clear of the Devils Dream and eat around the pannacotta?) let me know in the comments - first in gets it - and I can send you the voucher (it's valid till the 31st of May).

Does this look like your cup of tea or are you more into small portions of amazingness? Or do you think there's a time and place for both?

Strawberry Fare is located at 25 Kent Terrace, Wellington, ph (04) 385 2551,


  1. Strawberry Fare was great in its day but I think everywhere else has moved on a bit... those desserts look just the same as they were 15 years ago!

    I think Mum said it was the September earthquake that put the Christchurch branch out of commission.

  2. I used to work there (hence anonymous commenting) and would wholeheartedly agree with your comments .. Certainly after working there it was easy to say no to the desserts (sugar all different ways).. !

  3. I've been before, about 6 months ago, and went when I was little. It is a bit hit and miss! Really enjoyed my banoffee pie though, so can recommend that!

    Enojying reading your blog Mrs Cake - going to make the cocolate self saucing for Mr Sophie tonight, he's getting home from a week working non-stop in Christchuch, so is understandable knackered.


  4. Hey Rosa,
    I am coming up the week before easter and would take my sister there (maybe for mains) if the voucher is still on offer.

  5. I like the Christchurch strawberry fare but have never been to the wellington one as just heard that it was a bit overrated. The christchurch one has a place in my heart due to tradition, going there after prize givings and other big school events with friends. Although last time I was there, the service was atrocious so ruined the entire evening for us, despite the desserts being delicious!

  6. Sarah - exactly, the concept remains good but if the desserts never change it can't keep up. Especially as I think New Zealand diners have become hugely more discerning in that time period.

    Anon - glad to hear I'm not the only one thinking it!

    Sophie, good to hear there are some worthwhile desserts - we did wonder if going just for the chocolate options distorted our view.

    Rose, you're welcome to it! I'll get in touch with you shortly.

    Jen, we had plenty of special occasion visits to the Christchurch one too (and Death by Chocolate before that, though that's long gone). Bad service can completely spoil a lovely evening, though. :-(


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