The Hemingway Café has been open in Teneriffe for a while now, and has survived past the initial crowd that just novelty brings. As it was near somewhere we needed to be, it seemed as convenient a time as any to try it out.
Located along Vernon Terrace, between the clusters of shops at Gasworks and the stretch where the London Club and Zero Fox are, its signage is partially hidden under the awning out front of one of the Woolstore buildings and by the trees along the road. There are tables outside, and people at those tables though, providing a bit of a hint that there is a café nestled in there.
We walked through the brick arch entrance, and found it to be quite cosily decorated inside. The air-conditioning was also pleasant, given the hot weather outside. The walls are ecru, with a stripe of orange, and there are shelves along it with trinkets. One of the walls had a rope net on it, likely a reference to The Old Man and the Sea, with Christmas baubles in it for a seasonal touch. Right at the back is a piano, something Hemingway’s first wife would have had in the house. The polished concrete floor and white wire chairs give it a slightly modern touch. The wooden tables have “Hemingway Café” laser etched into them. Not that you would be able to pilfer any of them without notice.. Indie rock style music which reminded one of The Killers played in the background at a just audible volume.
As it turns out, the café is counter service. There wasn’t any signage to indicate this, and after we had come through the entrance, wait staff just walked past, effectively ignoring us. It wasn’t even that staff were flat out, as most of the inside tables were empty, and the outside ones were not fully occupied either. Eventually someone waved from behind the counter over to the right of where you enter, and it was only slightly clearer then. There are folded paper menus in a basket on one side of the service counter that you are supposed to look through to decide what you want.
The range of options isn’t gigantic, but there are enough items there that you should be able to find something that appeals enough. About half of them are lighter options like muesli and eggs on toast with additions. From among the more substantial options, we chose the Zucchini and dill fritters, and the Pulled pork burger. We picked a table in the pleasantly air-conditioned inside to sit at with our table number, and waited, armed with newspapers. It wasn’t too long before the drinks were brought out.
The flat white was thought to be okay. It was smooth, but had a bitter finish. Not terrible..but not fantastic either.
The chocolate milkshake with a shot of coffee was more disappointing. It wasn’t quite cool enough, and didn’t taste of chocolate or coffee. It was sweet, but that was about it. For the same price, you get some very nice things at other cafes. (Elk being a good example).
The Zucchini and dill fritters came with haloumi, danish feta, beetroot relish, and a poached egg. The fritters were small, flavourful rounds. Instead of being the thick, patty-like chunks found elsewhere, they were comparatively thin, browned on either side, but still soft inside. There was a good amount of the shredded zucchini, so it wasn’t just batter with some vegetables in it. It also had good herby dill flavour. The haloumi was also nicely done, browned on the outside without being overcooked. The morsels of feta went well with them, and the poached egg had a runny yolk, though was actually underdone rather than perfectly poached. The rocket salad, however, was too bitter, and was quite unpleasant. Some spinach or other leaves in the mix would have been better. Even the sweet beetroot relish on the side couldn’t balance it.
The Pulled pork burger had a now classic combination of flavours of the pulled pork, coleslaw, and pickles. It was listed on the menu as being slow cooked shredded pork on a brioche bun with tangy coleslaw, Hemingway’s southern style BBQ sauce, and pickles. The pulled pork wasn’t sloppy, but also wasn’t too try and still had a good amount of sweet, slightly appley flavour. The coleslaw was crunchy, and was creamy with a slight mayonnaise tanginess, again without being too wet. The pickles provided tartness and more crunch. There were also a couple of slices of cheese folded over the other contents. This was not too salty. The contents were held in a soft bun. It was a good version of a Pulled pork burger, but not new or spectacularly amazing compared to other places that also offer it.
Service was somewhat sulky. When you go to patronise a café or restaurant, you expect a degree of hospitality and to be made to feel welcome as a customer. Staff don’t have to fawn or simper, but a smile instead of sullen stares would go a long way. Being ignored also isn’t conducive to potential patrons returning.
Overall, the Hemingway Café had alright enough food, less alright drinks, and not alright staff attitude. There are plenty of other options already around, and even more emerging, and we can’t say that this is currently a pick for a return visit.
Price point: $12.50 to $21 for the more substantial food items.
Address: 54 Vernon Terrace, Teneriffe
Phone: 07 3257 1799
Website: Hemingway Cafe