August

75 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 7am; closes 4pm, closed Monday
Granola $15, poached fruit extra; Supreme coffee, Libertine teas

August opened, appropriately enough, in August 2021. That wasn’t the reason for the name exactly though. It was chosen because that was the month the people behind it decided to go ahead with the concept a year earlier. The name does risk ambiguity: ‘I’ll see you at August’ (or worse, ‘in August’) needs explanation for those not in the know. But then ‘august’ also means venerable or inspiring reverence or admiration: a state the eatery may get to; and perhaps appropriate one housed in a building owned by the Wesley Methodist Church next door.

The granola is steeped in cacao, which is not something I particularly like as it overpowers all other flavours and makes you feel like you are eating chocolate cake rather than granola/muesli. Setting that aside, the actual mix is great: plenty of nuts such as brazil, almond and walnut, as well as pumpkin and sesame seeds. Plus oats, goji berries (which add a bit of colour) and sultanas and dried cranberries.

An unusual feature is that you pay extra to have poached fruit with it. That was $5 in my case for a single poached tamarillo, and as I write this a bit later it is $6 for ‘roasted strawberries’. I find this a bit off. Without the fruit, the dish is rather plain, so why wouldn’t you want the fruit? But I can see the logic: you are then paying $20 or more for a bowl of granola, which is well above the usual price in other eateries, so you get a price choice. However, to add insult to injury it is 50c extra for plant based milk. Such milks have become so mainstream that many places no longer ask extra for this. A choice of coconut yoghurt over Zany Zeus Greek dairy yoghurt isn’t charged for however.

Having said that, my tamarillo was nice – plainly poached whole with a bit of spice. And the coconut yoghurt had a pleasant, slight tang to it. So no sugar heaped on via these toppings.

The coffee was good, but no filter is offered, and it seems a pity that my Americano was served in a regular sort of coffee cup when it could have been in a pottery mug that matched the other serving ware. See Loretta for how it can be done.

August - tea

I have visited August several times. The first was to sample the tea and cheese scones. The Libertine tea is very nicely served in beautiful clear glass cups and from a tall ceramic pot. You do need to put your hand on the lid to prevent it falling off, but unlike smaller pots that can pop their lid unexpectedly, at least this necessity is obvious. The only thing missing with the tea serve is a pot of hot water, but I must concede that my tea was the right strength and ample quantity.

Two types of scone are served. The cheese ones have watercress and, I think, mint and dill, though I couldn’t really taste any of these plant additions. They are close to perfection. They are reheated in a proper oven, so you get a crispy outside, there is plenty of cheese in them, they are light and fluffy, and the butter is served at room temperature (i.e. is spreadable). In a city known for its cheese scones, these could be the best.

August - date scone

The sweet scones are fine. Sorry, I didn’t take notes, but I have eaten one. I think they had dates, but not in an overwhelming, sticky, sweet way. And there is definitely orange in them. They are somewhat crumbly.

August - salad

And I had a farro salad another time. It was pretty nice, very Middle-Eastern.

I love the steep pitch of the space and big wall of glass at front. It feels semi-ecclesiastical. There is also a Scandinavian minimalist aesthetic akin to Loretta in Cuba St. This is especially evident at the counter, where there is no cluttered wall of bottles, tea tins and what-have-you behind the servers. Just a small selection of sweet counter food at front. Almost everything else is hidden from view.

But I feel minimalism, much as I love it, may have been taken too far with the colour scheme. It looks like someone got a spray gun full of chocolate brown paint and fired it in all directions on all surfaces. It does create a distinctive look, a brand if you like, but it is so unrelieved that it doesn’t feel comfortable or even that welcoming. You certainly wouldn’t want to live in a space painted like that.

Conclusion

Good granola, somewhat ruined by swamping it with cacao. I feel the same about the architecture: nice space but its natural qualities are overwhelmed by a totalising use of brown paint. Funny that there is this coincidence between food and décor. I am drawn to go here often on account of the good tea and excellent scones, but equally put off from making it my favourite by the oppressive brown.

Reviewed October 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.

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