Wharf One, Cairns

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One place that I have been frequenting of late is the little café located at the Cairns Wharf so aptly named Wharf One. Opening in June this year with stunning uninterrupted views of Trinity Inlet, Wharf One has a position that most cafes could only dream of. What’s more is it’s a great spot for parents to grab a coffee as it’s right next to the fig tree playground that reminds me dearly of my favourite Enid Blyton book – The Magic Faraway Tree. For the non-parents it’s just enough out of ear shot for you to enjoy your morning or afternoon in peace.

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I discovered Wharf One how I discover most new restaurants and cafe’s – through Facebook when I saw the Taste Paradise page’s picture of the Salmon Poke (one of the menu items on offer at Wharf One). I was there the very next day. With nothing on the breakfast or lunch menu over AU$14 Wharf One is a breath of fresh air in the current Cairns café climate. I don’t know about you but frankly I am getting a little over the over-priced breakfasts around Cairns. This is a rant I have been on before but some Cairns cafes are charging over $20 a dish, something I think is absolutely absurd. This is Cairns not bloody Surry Hills FFS!

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Back to Wharf One – With an emphasis on local produce such as Mungalli Creek Yogurt, Madella Coffee from Mourilyan and local cane cured salmon the menu quickly caught my attention. Breakfast includes items such as Pomodoro Sardines on Toast (apparently sardines are making a comeback) for only $8, Quinoa and Brown Rice Chai Porridge with Mixed Berries ($8) and Smashed Local Avocado, Ricotta, Lime Oil on Ciabatta, also for $8. Lunch is even tastier with items such as the Wharf One Local Prawn Burger for $13 and Shredded Chicken, Avocado and Mango Baguette for $10 and my personal favourite Local Salmon Poke with Avocado and Woodfired Ciabatta – a Hawaiian Sashimi (not Sushimi) style salad for a mere $9.

Broken eggs, wood-fired bread with local avocado (AU$12) plantain rosti and double smoked ham (both $3 extra)

Broken eggs, wood-fired bread with local avocado (AU$12) plantain rosti and double smoked ham (both $3 extra)

Unfortunately the atmosphere and the tasty sounding menu are really the only positive things I could find about Wharf One. My fellow blogger friend Baking Myself Happy is one person’s opinion that I rely heavily upon, usually because she takes the words right out of my mouth. Her recent text regarding Wharf One reads as so… “I’ve been to Wharf One four times now and am so disappointed with their food and their presentation. The food had been average at best. Such a shame as it’s the prettiest spot.”

Sadly I tend to agree with everything she wrote. I, myself have been to Wharf One no less than five times prior to writing this post hoping that things would improve despite really enjoying my initial visit – the Salmon Poke was innovative, fresh and flavoursome. Alas since that first visit Wharf One seems to be on a steady decline. The service which was dubious on my initial visit has only gotten worse with meals arriving up to 15 minutes apart and although the owner seems lovely and always keen for a chat, the young staff (in between texting on their phones) appear to have absolutely no idea what’s going on nor do they care about providing even remotely reasonable service.

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The coffee has often been terrible but considering they use what I assume are world-class beans from Madella Coffee in Mourilyan I can only assume that it’s the barista that provides the burnt and bitter aftertaste. The Kale and Quinoa salad I had as a side serve to my Salmon Poke was so bland and tasteless that even one mouthful was all I could stomach (a little seasoning wouldn’t go astray) and I just can’t omit the hair that my friend found in her baguette that was removed at the table by the waitress who expected her to continue eating said baguette.

Local Salmon Poke with Wood-fired Ciabatta for AU$9 (Kale and Quinoa side salad extra $3)

Local Salmon Poke with Wood-fired Ciabatta for AU$9 (Kale and Quinoa side salad extra $3)

Despite what some may think I am always loathe to write non-positive things about restaurants and cafe’s but as I said above, I went back five times in hopes of improvement because I want to like Wharf One so much. Most recently my sister went to Wharf One last Saturday morning. She ordered poached eggs with salmon which arrived on a broken plate with eggs that were almost raw and the salmon was forgotten completely. How many chances do you give a place? I started this blog because I tell it how it is and I think my readers deserve that. At Wharf One the menu is great (in theory), the location is second to none and the prices are probably some of the best I have seen in Cairns but the very thing they are setting out to do – provide good service and serve good food – is being overlooked. Like the old Queenslander on Martyn Street that MS and I looked at buying recently, Wharf One has plenty of potential but in the end there are tonnes other places that require far less work.

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Wharf One

The Wharf, Wharf St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4031 2840

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Posted on November 11, 2014, in Cairns and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Oh, I know what you mean, and once again, FoodVixen, you confirm my feelings about an eating spot! I have worked sooo hard to like Wharf One – and have decided that I’ll have to just put up with the poor service (talk about GenY attitude!) and lazily prepped food (that menu has so much potential, what happens between conception and creation?!) in order to enjoy the spectacular views and proximity to the fig tree playground. I am hopeful that the owner will read your review and smarten things up a bit. And I’d be happy to pay a dollar or more per dish if that helps them out. With that concept, menu and position they really should be an outstanding success, and we will all be cheering if they can get it right …

  2. Totally agree with you foodvixen. We love the position, the outlook and the menu but our experiences are so similar to yours. The muffins we ordered were stale, the coffee was undrinkable and the staff really didn’t seem to care when we pointed these things out. I have to admit the tea was very good though, and they did refund our money for items not consumed. We can only hope they will improve.

  3. That’s a good post and don’t be afraid to voice a negative opinion when warranted. Your criticism is also constructive in my view. I have wandered past here several times and not stopped despite it being my kind of place in atmosphere. Wonderful on the wharf! However while you mention that they have a great menu this isn’t actually displayed. This always made me wonder whether they have their act together. Small things can be telling!

    • Thank you KS 🙂 Unsurprisingly everyone seems to agree with my comments. I did provide many positive comments about Wharf One. I guess i was a little concerned about providing a negative opinion of late due to The Cairns Post completely anonymous photo they put of me the Cairns Eye recently. But i realise my readers like me for my honesty (much how i was drawn to your posts) and not my willingness to write about cafes in a positive to receive free food 😉

  4. Totally agree with your review. My husband and I frequent that cafe every other day and I still get blank looks from the staff members. We have decided after another inconsistency on our meal on Saturday morning not to return as it’s just not worth getting upset about any more. So much potential and I’m gutted as it’s such a lovely spot and a great menu.

  5. The owners of this place were involved somehow with castaways down in mission beach which has the most terrible reviews, last one I read said there was a rat in the restaurant. I only ate there once and it was inedible. The chicken was actually off, you know that smell that off chicken has? Eww I told the waitress’s and everyone was smelling it to see if in fact it was off. In the end they decided yes it was indeed off. Like you couldn’t tell when it was being prepared. Disgusting!!!

    • The last time I dined at Castaways the food was pretty terrible. The only reason I actually ate it was that I was pretty drunk at the time. I can’t believe they served you off chicken! Way to get salmonella!

  6. This does not surprise me in the least ,the owners had the same disinterest in customer service as they did when managing Castaways in mission beach , rude, arrogant and opinionated . wharf one has so much potential but unfortunately it looks as though history is repeating itself.

    • I’ll have to agree the food at Castaways was pretty terrible last time I went there. So things haven’t changed at Wharf One since I wrote this post last year?

  7. I’ve only just discovered this cafe this year as my daughter has had enough of muddies and the fig tree is her new favourite park. I agree with your article completely. I’ve tried so hard to like this cafe. The position is beautiful and the menu cheap but the food is average and the coffee awful. The best thing I’ve had from there is the banana Nutella toastie on the kids menu lol

    • Haha surely they couldn’t stuff up a Banana and Nutella Toastie?! Funny because I was just thinking only the other day that maybe they may have upped their standards since I wrote this review but it seems nothing has changed at all. It’s such a shame Gemma 😦

  8. Obviously everyone has an opinion. I’m a stay at home dad, I go to wharf one about twice a week and can’t fault it. Comment regarding the staff especially, I find very inaccurate.
    The coffee is in my opinion the best in town.

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