Parnell appears to be experiencing a resurgence, and this pretty cafe is another feather in its cap. I had heard great things before my visit and I was intrigued, mostly by its quirky moniker (Winona Forever is a nod to Johnny Depp's famous inking, so part of me was hoping the man himself would be my waiter). Outside, the cafe is a lively injection of colour on the otherwise grey corner of Parnell Rd and Garfield St. There is ample street parking and we had no trouble getting a park on a grey Sunday morning; getting a table was another story. Inside, hanging plants, crisp blue walls and vintage pendants give this cafe aesthetic appeal, though your eye will be drawn to the large cabinets brimming with freshly baked treats. We joined the long queue in the courtyard and were added to a list of people waiting for tables. Be prepared to wait at least half an hour to be seated.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
There is plenty to choose from on this menu, and the names of the dishes appear to mirror the cafe's quirky style. Our coffees arrived promptly, but tasted far too strong. I chose the Magical Mushrooms and my friends ordered the Green Breakfast Bowl, Beet Street and the Big Breakfast Plate. Nobody went for The Ladyboy unfortunately (a prawn Benedict). The 45-minute wait in the rain for a table felt like an eternity, and the plates of French toast piled high with meringue and berries whizzing past did nothing to ease our hunger. Our meals eventually arrived though, and my Magical Mushrooms were indeed magical; a mushroom medley in a light cream and herb sauce with a herb crepe and green salad. The Big Breakfast Plate was fairly standard, according to my partner, and my friend confirmed that the Beet Street - beetroot-cured salmon and beetroot puree with creme fraiche on kumara sourdough - was divine, both in taste and presentation. Unfortunately, the Green Breakfast Bowl arrived topped with nuts and seeds we had asked to be left off because of an allergy, and we decided another 15-minute wait for a replacement was not worth it.
Service was efficient, though robotic, and Winona Forever still has teething problems after being open for eight weeks. You get the feeling you are being rushed so your table is freed up for the next group on the waiting list. I must credit the wait staff for leaving the Green Breakfast Bowl off the bill after the nut debacle. Perhaps the biggest drawcard would be the glorious cabinet food, which you can buy to take away. I hope Winona Forever finds its mojo for our next visit, as it has plenty of potential.