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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fidel's Cafe, Wellington

Forget smoking. Cool kids pack their knitting needles when they meet friends for coffee.

This is the sight that greets Billy and I when we stumble into the courtyard of Fidel's Cafe on our recent trip to Wellington, New Zealand. We'd been about to leave when we couldn't find a seat inside, until we notice someone coming in from the back. We follow the path to find a sunny courtyard that looks like a uni student's back garden, an eclectic mismatch of pot plants, an old dart board, pictures of Fidel Castro and a peeling backdrop of blue.

Fidel's Cafe

The menu has a Mexican influence with items including breakfast burritos, quesadillas, black bean and chipotle chilli, Cuban sofrito chicken and crumbed jalapenos.

Flat white coffee NZ$3.50

We only have time for a quick coffee before our scheduled lunch at Matterhorn, but we relish every minute - soaking up the casual atmosphere and deliberate quirkiness as we sip on deliciously strong and robust flat whites.

Fidel Castro print

The vibe is so addictive that we have no hesitation in returning at the next available opportunity, dragging Peter with us for a post-lunch dessert a couple of days later.

Fidel's Cafe courtyard

Banana smoothie NZ$5.00

Peter seems to choose the healthiest drink on the menu - a banana smoothie that is light and foamy, the tang of yoghurt sweetened with honey.

Snickers thick shake NZ$7.50

I have no such self-control, my attention immediately zeroing in one the promise of a Snickers thick shake on the menu. It arrives in a traditional milkshake metal tumbler, a foamy ice cream concoction that takes some effort to suck up through the narrow straw.

Our reactions are all the same. As that first hit of sugary goodness hits our tastebuds, we widen our eyes in turn, a smile flickering across our faces. Chocolate, peanut, caramel and ice cream, it's as though a liquefied Snickers Bar went for a party in the snow.

Lemon meringue pie NZ$5.50

I'm entrusted with ordering dessert from the overflowing display counter of cakes, slices and biscuits, each of them appealing with a rustic homemade appearance. There is so much to choose from, but I return with lemon meringue pie, a sticky rich dessert with a lemon and condensed milk filling topped with a caramelised cloud of fluffy meringue.

I'd originally ordered ice cream on the side but we receive an overflowing pot of yoghurt instead. It works out well in the end anyway, the tartness of the yoghurt providing a cleansing foil against the sweetness of the meringue.

Chocolate afghan $3.50

And we can't leave Wellington without having one of New Zealand's national biscuits, the chocolate afghan. The chocolate biscuit is a combination of soft and crunchy, with cornflakes embedded into the mixture. Chocolate icing and a walnut hat are the best parts.

The cheeky sense of humour of its owners are apparent on the cafe's website which says:

"Despite the popularity of their cafe, co-owners Roger Young and Chris "Potty" Wagstaff insist they are only in it for the money.

"Everyone says thay have a great time at Fidel's but I don't really care," says Mr Wagstaff, "as soon as I have enough cash I want to get out of the cafe business and start my own brothel."

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Grab Your Fork travelled to Wellington as a guest of Positively Wellington Tourism for Wellington on a Plate. Fidel's Cafe was visited and paid for independently.

Wellington on a Plate ran from August 14-29, 2010.

Fidel's Cafe
234 Cuba Street, Te Aro 6011
Wellington, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (04) 801 6868

Opening hours:
Monday 11.30am-10pm
Tuesday to Friday 11.30am-11pm
Saturday 9am-11pm
Sunday 9am-10pm
Fidels Cafe on Urbanspoon

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Boulcott Street Bistro
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Devour Gala Dinner
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Logan Brown
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Matterhorn
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Osteria Del Toro
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Petone Food Tour
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Te Papa Museum
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Wellington Pop-Up Restaurant
Wellington on a Plate 2010 - Wellington Pop-Up Restaurant in Sydney

17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/21/2010 02:40:00 am


  • At 10/21/2010 3:41 am, Anonymous tasteofbeirut said…

    This café sounds like my kind of place; I could spend hours there, mainly observing the scene and the knitters! I am also eyeing that lemon meringue pie.

  • At 10/21/2010 7:20 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    An Afghan cookie and a pair of knitting needes. What more does a girl need?

  • At 10/21/2010 8:52 am, Anonymous Riss said…

    Methinks that Che Guevara print is actually a Fidel Castro print! Kekeke~

  • At 10/21/2010 9:34 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    Sigh, we need places like this in Sydney! I think I'd be camped there every weekend lol

  • At 10/21/2010 10:03 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    haha i always get the urge to knit just as summer starts!

  • At 10/21/2010 10:41 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    A group of friends and I used to meet every Sunday for a knitting brunch at a local cafe (except I was the sole cross-stitcher :P), so this post makes me happy. The snickers milkshake is what makes me happiest, though...

  • At 10/21/2010 11:21 am, Blogger Alessandra said…

    Great reportage, and this place is soooo Kiwi!

    Thank you for sharing :-)

  • At 10/21/2010 11:26 am, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Hahaha i love the description on their website! Snickers thickshake -- yum!! And oh my, that lemon meringue pie looks so goood and that chocolate afghan cookie sounds interesting, I'm going to google it now! haha.

  • At 10/21/2010 12:32 pm, Anonymous billy @ a table for two said…

    IT is such a cool nook in the cafes hub. The hipster really brought the knitting coolness back.

    And that Snickers milk shake.... oh my gawwwddd.... it was like a meal on its own! I will definitely go back to Fidel's just for that!

  • At 10/21/2010 12:51 pm, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    Mmmmm.. snickers... *drools* Seriously, that sounds like a kickass milkshake. I want!

  • At 10/21/2010 1:34 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Oh my, that lemon meringue pie looks good indeed. And although a Snickers milkshake may tip the delicate bodily sugar equilibrium, I would've tried it too - all in the name of research!

  • At 10/21/2010 9:56 pm, Blogger Anna said…

    Love the look and feel of this place, and GREAT photos Helen, especially the first one with the intense blue - love it :)

  • At 10/22/2010 9:10 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Even though I chose "healthy" that snickers flavoured milkshake was amazing!

  • At 10/22/2010 9:43 am, Blogger susan said…

    Oh my god all of those desserts are making me hungry! That snickers milkshake sounds awesome.

    Snickers is my favourite chocolate bar, so that is one drink I would definitely order if it was on the menu.

  • At 10/23/2010 8:03 am, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Hahahaha the quote from the website is hilarious! I love places like these - humour and personality all injected in the food and cafe atmosphere!

  • At 10/23/2010 4:20 pm, Anonymous thang @ noodlies said…

    hum... knitting and coffee.... and fidel...

  • At 10/24/2010 4:55 pm, Blogger M-H said…

    I had to comment - knitting (my favorite pastime) *and* Wellington (my home-town). There are a few cafes round Sydney where people meet to knit - Barmuda in Newtown is my fave. And oh, I love Cuba St. This cafe wasn't there last time I visited, but I'll add it to my list for my next visit. And the Matterhorn - that's a blast from the past! I used to eat there when I worked in Cuba St in the 1970s. It's where I told my best friend that I was pregnant in 1972! It was fairly tired when I worked there again in the '80s, but I visited it a couple of years ago and was really impressed with its updated decor.


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