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Federal And Wolfe

There is nothing too cool about this place, and yet 'cool' is the best word to describe it.
By Vanessa Ellingham
October 03, 2011
By Vanessa Ellingham
October 03, 2011

Do you ever like something so much that you just want everyone else to like it too? None of this keep-it-on-the-d-low indie crap. If Federal & Wolfe was a person and I had to give them their own phrase, it would be "inclusive hipster". There is nothing too cool about this place, and yet 'cool' is the best word to describe it.  Painted doodles are splashed over the blackboard walls and down on to the eclectic mix of retro wooden school chairs. The style is minimalist, with assorted pot plants lining the walls and milk crates carrying newspapers and wheat sack cushions.

When I visited for breakfast I found a mixed patronage - businessmen reading the paper before work, middle-aged women catching up over coffee, trendy young things chowing down and a cop ordering her takeaway. Now I'm not saying that policewomen can't be hipsters, but it was nice to find a cafe that's not all 'scene'; actually, it felt a bit like Wellington (ooh!). The staff were super chatty and seemed genuinely friendly - the guy at the counter struck up a chat with everybody and even called a stern-looking suit "bruv". The girl who served my table knew exactly when to offer customers their second round of flat whites. The art of this cafe is its balance of casual and precise - the casual atmosphere surrounding a very precise approach to food.
Federal & Wolfe works with the concept "from the gate to the plate", and this really pays off: the food was excellent. I had the omelete with slices of pork sausage, spinach and mushrooms. The slices were chunky and really tasted like they'd been grown out the back, rubbishing the half-arsed over-processed stigma that shrouds the humble omelete. It was accompanied by a gutsy tomato puree and wholegrain toast that packed a punch.
The other item that caught my eye was the smoked fish kedgeree - I wasn't feeling brave enough to have fish for breakfast, but when I saw someone else order it I wished I had, too - flaked through basmati rice, the fish looked non-confrontational, and I mean that in a good way. The spices smelt wonderful, but still palatable for those weaker morning-stomachs. The eggs florentine served with haloumi looked worth a go, too. I was compelled to try one of their fresh juices, the zinger, which was a mix of apple, pear, ginger and lime. Served in a handled glass jar, it was fantastically fresh and made me want to dig my own juicer machine out of the back cupboard to have a go.
On the whole, I was very impressed - the only thing that got me was the Federal St location which wasn't ideal for my early morning. Having said that, there are so many cafes around town, but now that I've been to Federal & Wolfe it will be hard to go elsewhere.
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