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.
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, www.strawberryfare.co.nz