166 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 7am weekdays, 8:30am weekends; breakfast finishes 12pm weekdays, 3pm Sat, 2pm Sun but stays open until late Mon to Sat
Muesli $14.50; Revive coffee, Noble & Savage tea
The Arborist is close to Neo, Mulberry Garden, Hangar, Goldmine and the Mercure Wellington Abel Tasman hotel. It seems to function more as an evening bar/restaurant than a café and is characterised by stool-height chairs, as well as soft bench seats set up on a sort of platform on the other side of the main row of tables. The eatery is below the Trinity Hotel and serves as the hotel’s dining space but operates equally as a walk-in venue.
If you want a good feed this is the place for you. The serving size is very generous, though the technique of wiping yoghurt around the plate before adding the muesli results in a scant amount of usable yoghurt. The fresh fruit is welcome, but also not exactly plentiful.
As for the quality of the muesli, it is pretty ho-hum and feels like it came out of a packet or a bulk bin (dried banana chips are a give-away), though there is the less conventional addition of black (and white) sesame seeds. The dominant component is whole grain oats. Other ingredients are dried cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. A generous jug of milk accompanies the muesli, and you will need this.
On weekdays you can get a cooked breakfast for just $7. Two eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. The vegetarian option, pictured above, has mushrooms instead of bacon. It’s a pretty good deal, but the toast is a bit blah. It’s a think chunk of wholemeal bread. The Noble & Savage leaf tea is good. The pot pours OK and the cup is nice. With an extra pot of hot water I would have been happy.
The atmosphere is warm, cosy and rustic. On the first time I visited there was reggae music playing softly in the background. My highest praise is reserved for the waitress. There was no Saturday newspaper when I arrived. There may have been a delivery issue that day across town. When I asked if there was a paper the waitress simply said, ‘I’ll get you one’. A few minutes later she went over the road to a convenience store and purchased a copy. I hadn’t complained or anything, just asked if there was a paper.
On my second visit almost two years later on a Sunday again there was no paper but the very helpful and friendly waitress went and got a paper from the hotel. So top of the class for consistently good service.
Arborist has an outdoor seating area facing Willis St, as befits its evening function as a bar. Ashtrays are on each table and several are bar stool height.
Muesli nothing special but its generous serving would set you up well for a day on the town or a walk in the hills. I’d like more nuts (there aren’t any), fresh fruit and yoghurt. The dish was almost identical on my two visits 23 months apart. Service was excellent both times.
Reviewed June 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.