Come for the aesthetic, stay for the French toast.
June 28, 2018
It's been over a decade since the defunct RNZAF base in Hobsonville began its slow rehabilitation process into becoming a civilian neighbourhood. First came the houses, one pretty decent lone café, then the supermarket, another couple of garden-variety cafes (nothing to write home about), and finally, after almost a decade of waiting, Fabric, a café-bistro that puts Hobsonville proudly on the culinary map.
Housed in the old air force repair shop right on the river's edge and with a stunning Walker Mitchell-designed interior, the place has a huge aesthetic wow factor. I was so distracted by the highly chic grey and beige palette I stood for about half a minute pushing at the pull glass door before being helped by a pitying waitress.
Once inside we settled into our table overlooking the water and opened up our menus. Fabric's menu echoes owners Melissa and Luke Shore's philosophy of accessible dining but with a touch of something special. New Zealand menu regulars are given tiny twists and polishes which keep things interesting but without bewildering your regular cafe visitor who just wants something familiar — think truffle oil on your omelette and almond burnt butter with your gnocchi.
I ordered the smoked kahawai omelette which was served with a generous heap of rocket on top, a sprinkle of goat's cheese and a bit of truffle oil for a reasonable-in-Auckland $22. Across the table from me, my dining companion had the grilled mushrooms on toast with parsley and basil pumpkin seed pesto with the grain bread option ($18).
The mushrooms on toast was a delicious wee herby blend of flavours and a nice healthy start to the day, although if we were going to nitpick it could've done with a bit more juice or a bit of sauce — any kind of moisture. It was only a minor detractor though, but is worth mentioning. The flavours however were absolutely bang on.
The jury's still out on the smoked kahawai omelette. I could write a decent few sonnets about the feta cheese and the truffle oil they used, and the first few mouthfuls of the omelette were absolutely delicious. But the smoked kahawai omelette is definitely not the dish to order unless you are absolutely, 100 percent committed to having a very smoky, very fishy start to your day with no variations on the matter. It might just be the case of too much of a good thing or might be a dish better left for brunch or as a platter to halve and share. It's still a really delicious meal and has some really interesting flavour profiles, so is definitely one to try for those committed to having that one selfsame flavour without any respite.
As a little surprise, we were also given a small sample of the caramelised banana brioche French toast with maple syrup and a bit of cream which absolutely blew us away. Innovatively, Fabric mushes the caramelised banana and places it inside of the brioche instead of the usual stack approach. The brioche is heavenly without being too heavy, the banana is sweet but not overpowering (the downfall of most other French toasts) and the cream and syrup add just the right accents of flavour. If there is one thing you should definitely order at Fabric it's the French toast. Absolutely no complaints here.
All in all, it's a nice little riverside spot with an absolutely stunning aesthetic and French toast you'll definitely want to come back for. Definitely one to try if you live in or near Hobsonville.
96 Mokoia Road, Birkenhead