It was a Friday night; my partner and I were out for dinner in the West End before a board games engagement at a friend’s. As usual, I had forgotten the obligatory “thanks for having us!” bag of chips at my apartment, so we stood outside of The Rose and Crown, wondering where we could pick up a quick treat. Steve pointed to a sign that said “Fardella’s Classic Bakery and Internet Café.” Internet café? Blacked out windows, and a sign that read “24 hours”? This place was the very definition of unassuming.
The moment I walked into Fardella’s, I realized just how much I had underestimated it. Barely able to keep the words “Holy Guacamole!” from exploding out of my mouth, I was greeted by a table piled high and deep with deep-fried, filled, iced, and glazed baked goods. It was better than being like a kid in a candy store: unlike those kids, I could buy as many goodies as my heart desired! And I did. The bakery’s policy? Pick a box, whatever size you’d like, and fill it up!
The problem, I soon found, was that my pastry of choice could only fit two in the largest box. What is this manna I speak of? Two words: GIANT FRITTERS. For the next three days (which included a second visit to this miraculously inexpensive bakery), I would describe these fritters to every friend I saw, reaching my hands out and miming hugeness as I declared, “Fritters AS BIG AS YOUR FACE!” Classic apple, or filled with ooey-gooey blueberry sauce, these fritters (and their just-as-awesome cousins, the Danish) are super flakey, which brings out the deep-friend goodness. They’re so huge that we tend to cut them up before eating them, but their most fun incarnation are the middle-finger fritters that are sold on weekdays only! They’re a huge hit amongst the office-working crowd, which is proven by the fact that if you don’t snatch ‘em up early, they’re gone!
Beyond desserts, Fardella’s serves food until 9 pm. They offer a steal of a $13 meal deal, which includes a generously portioned entrée, a side (fries, coleslaw, and the like: you’d best not try to order salad here), pop or coffee, and a dessert of your choice. If you’re looking some fish and chips to cure your hangover? This is the place for you. Even better yet: it’s licensed! For me, though, if I were to walk into Fardella’s with $13, I’d end up walking out with $13 worth of fritters!
After several visits to grab supper, pick up treats for friends, or even spend the whole evening playing board games at Fardella’s, I’ve come to learn that this place is so much more than an internet café. In my mind, Fardella’s is a West End refuge where I could see my fellow grad students working late into the night, balancing yellowing book, black coffee, and sweet, sweet fritter, three delicious things in two hands. This bakery-café is forever occupied by happy people, those who share a smug smile because they know that they have found the West End’s best kept secret.