A couple of months ago I wrote an article on Weekendnotes titled 10 Cafes, Pubs & Wineries with Fireplaces. It was an article I enjoyed writing, after getting my hands and feet toasty by fireplaces around the city. I then received a comment from Hackett local Anton, who told me of a particularly inviting fireplace at Wilbur's Café Bar at Hackett shops, 10 minutes north of the city (thanks Anton for the tip!). So I waited for a particularly cold morning in May to put on my gloves, wrap up my young daughter in her warmest jacket and get to Wilbur's to enjoy some hot drinks and cake by the fireplace.
It is fair to say that my daughter didn't need much convincing.
Wilbur's is a local secret, tucked away at Hackett shops with an outside seating area enjoyed by local cyclists and people out walking their dogs. Wilbur's is particularly dog friendly, with the café and bar named after Wilbur, the owners dog. When you go inside, there is even a small statuette of Wilbur himself. There are water bowls provided so people walking their dogs can sit outside and enjoy the relaxed Wilbur's vibe with their canine companion. With a huge mural on the wall with a dog theme, it is clear that Wilbur's is the place to visit if you have a dog - or two.
Two of Wilbur's locals. Source: Wilbur's Cafe Bar Facebook
As you step inside the doors, there is the bar area with floor to ceiling windows to let in the natural light. This is an ideal place to come for a drink and watch the State of Origin or weekend footy in this sports-themed bar. There is AFL memorabilia on the walls, a bike mounted vertically and a pinball machine conveniently located in the "Bulls$@! Corner", down the end of a hallway.
It is in this hallway that my daughter found her personal jackpot - a shelf full of coloured pencils, sharpeners and sketch pads to keep her entertained for awhile...well, at least until the cake is finished. As we walked into the large café area, we found the much-anticipated fireplace and it lived up to expectations. It had the whole room cosy and warm. Thankfully there was a table for two just near it, so we could sit and take in the waves of heat radiating from it. Although not a real fire, this gas version is even better as it is safe, warm and will never go out - just what we needed on a chilly May morn.
With such a large area to heat, there is plenty of room for a number of groups to dine here without being too close to each other. If you are dining with kids, the kids menu is reasonably priced with delicious fare that they will enjoy. With pancakes on the children's Breakfast Menu for less than $10, there will be some happy children in Hackett when they are served.
It is easy to see that this area would be popular in the evenings for cosy dinners, between Wednesday and Sunday. The menu at Wilbur's is extensive, with a good range to choose from with popular favourites chicken schnitzel, pizzas and burgers on the list. They also have a Specials board with fresh Australian cuisine to choose from ranging between $20 - $28. If you are heading there for dinner later in the week, check their Facebook page for the latest deal (eg. 2 4 1 Burger Nights) and a sneak peak at the Specials Board. If you pick the right night, you may also stumble upon Trivia Night or live music played inside.
On my visit with my daughter, nothing was going to surpass the range of sweet treats that were on display in the cake cabinet. With muffins, slices, jellies, brownies, cakes, puddings and cheesecakes to choose from, it took us awhile to decide. The delectable-looking Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake had us both glued to the window from the start, so we ordered a slice to be enjoyed with two spoons by the fireplace.
When visiting Wilbur's ensure you allow plenty of time. This is a local café and bar where you just take your time and enjoy good food and good company. It is a café and bar that I wish was my own local, to be able to pop down for a pizza or meal by the fireplace and catch up with friends whilst I was there. This family-friendly, dog-friendly café and bar is a local treasure. Thanks to local reader Anton for sharing it with us - the fireplace is definitely worth going back for (and of course the cheesecake).
Whilst there, ensure you play tribute to Wilbur - however you may find him in some unusual places each time you visit...
Cheeky Wilbur by day - on the range of home-made pickles also sold at the café bar...
Happy you made it to Hackett! And it is Antonia - not Anton but thanks for remembering :) Have a nice day ! Thanks for all your reviews .. I find it very detailed and helpful especially when you are new to Canberra and with kids..