90 Aro St, Aro Valley, Wellington
Opens 7.30am weekdays, 9am weekends; closes 4pm everyday; reopens 5.30pm–10pm Wed to Sat
Muesli $15.50; Aro Coffee (owners brand), t-Leaf-T tea
Aro Café is a bit of an institution in the secluded Aro Valley, which is not far from the Te Aro area of Wellington city. It is in the village and roughly opposite Arobake, which would give them a run for their money in the bakery department but are limited by minimal seating.
This muesli was toasted. It contained a large quantity of dried fruit and was topped by bland, thick and creamy yoghurt, and stewed pears (also a bland form of fruit in my view). I was served soy milk to accompany the muesli when I asked for it, but it was in a tiny jug of the sort you use for adding milk to tea or coffee.
According to the menu the yoghurt was Zany Zeus. Quite a few Wellington cafés seem to use this brand. I don’t know why. It does have a heavy, smooth and creamy texture, so I suppose there is a sort of luxuriance about it. But it has no taste. And on top of all this I found the muesli rather salty – maybe they were compensating for lack of taste with the yoghurt and fruit?
The coffee was average: Americano served in a cup. In late December two of us went for a scone and English Breakfast tea. The spinach(?) and cheese scone looked nice, but the only options for heating it were microwave and toasting. Oh dear! I asked about oven heating but was told it would make the crust crunchy (yeah, correct, that would be nice), and too long. Yes, it would take longer than a microwave, but other cafés manage. It didn’t seem worth getting into a discussion about how long, so we gave up on having a scone.
The tea was in plastic pyramid tea bags and was quite strong. Luckily we asked for extra hot water, which we got in a spare teapot with a lid missing its knob. Why is it OK to serve customers in broken tableware?
The café is a pretty relaxed place, as befits its situation in the heart of the bohemian Aro Valley, and popular with locals. But personally I find the dark wooden décor makes the place gloomy. This isn’t helped by the front windows being under a veranda and never exposed to sun.
A large mirror wall has been added since I first visited I think, and this helps a bit. Maybe they read the original version of this review in which I complained more strongly about the gloom?
I had high expectations of a café situated right in the heart of Wellington’s muesli eating suburb. But sorry Aro Café, though you are the nearest eatery to my home, and I have enjoyed cake at your tables, there is nothing that makes me want to return for your muesli (never mind coffee, tea or scones).
Reviewed muesli May 2019, tea in 2020.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.