SET UP & SITE:
You drive through a relative absence of Auckland to get there, which is appropriate. There’s the postmotorway emptiness, which turns into the promising toyland ghost town of residential Hobsonville Point, then down a barren hill, around a few turns and suddenly you’re on the edge of the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour in a massive carpark with very few empty parks. “There must be something very good going on around here,” you think to yourself, correctly. You walk down to the water and there, perched on its edge is one of the most perfectly formed cafes you will find in this city, if indeed you would say you are still in this city, which you wouldn’t.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL:
The menu offers a good but not excessive level of culinary ambition, including a very good kahawai omelette with goat’s cheese ($22) an excellent house-made baked beans with chorizo ($18) and an interesting and appealingly exotic breakfast cheesecake with fruit compote ($12). The coffee is excellent. These successes put Fabric already above 91 per cent of Auckland brunch establishments but you have to remember you are also sitting out on a waterfront deck in the bright spring sunshine, surrounded by large quantities of people from Auckland or its surrounds, using the beautifully constructed waterfront boardwalk and you’re thinking, “This really is very special.” It’s the perfect mix of human energy and natural beauty. In this context, the already very good food is elevated. You cannot, in a place this beautiful, vibrant and surprising, separate the food from its environment. This is what could and arguably should have happened at the Viaduct or North Wharf. Never mind: it’s here now.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF:
My wife had a certain look on her face that I usually miss but our waitperson did not. “What do you need from me?” she asked my wife: a really wonderful phrase. My wife ordered a coffee. The waitperson returned not just with the coffee but also with toys for our 1-year-old who had, by that point, gone rogue. That’s a high level of service. Given the turnover of hospitality staff, particularly in the cafe world, it can feel pointless to assess the quality of service but Fabric, as somewhere still fairly new, needs to be judged on the benchmark they’ve created, as a statement of where they intend to stay. The ratio of staff to patrons is high, possibly unsustainably so, and they’re consistently excellent, from the maitre d’s leadership down.