24 Lady Elizabeth Lane, 10 Waterloo Quay, Wellington waterfront
Opens 7am, closes 4pm; closed weekends
Muesli $15; Supreme coffee, Dilmah tea
Black Doris is a recent addition to the Wellington eatery scene, opening in late 2019. It is on the waterfront in the PWC building, opposite the NZ Post building and near Wellington Railway Station. It specialises in Vietnamese food, but also offers standard New Zealand café fare for breakfast such as eggs or mushrooms on toast as well as muesli.
The toasted muesli is called granola in the menu, but I will refer to it as muesli. As you can see, it is served completely covered in fresh fruit plus a small amount of cheap yoghurt and a bare dollop of rather sweet compote that has an intriguing licorice taste.
The toasted muesli underneath is a pretty standard kind of mix, with whole grain oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, almond flakes and walnuts, plus dried cranberries, apricot, sultanas and dates. It has WAY too much dried fruit in it. There is less muesli than it looks at first as it is spread in a shallow layer under the fresh fruit. But the amount is actually still OK.
I got my milk in a tea pot! And it wasn’t as if there were so many customers that all the milk jugs were in use. Strange or cute, depending how you look at it.
The muesli I had in March 2020 was quite different from the above, and in fact different from anything else available in Wellington. The oats were quite dry and had been lightly roasted in black-strap molasses, which lent a pretty interesting taste and a darkish colouring. This type of molasses has relatively little sugar, borne out by how little dissolved into the residual milk from the muesli. The oats were mixed with limited quantities of raisins, dried cranberries, coconut shred and pumpkin seeds.
My companion on this occasion had scrambled eggs on toast with the optional kranskys. She reported that the eggs were done just as she likes them.
I had an Americano coffee and it was served in a cappuccino cup. It seemed fine.
On a later visit (Nov 2021) I had a cheese scone. I’m afraid I didn’t write anything down about this, which suggests it must have been pretty ordinary. The tea was fairly ordinary as well, and I was surprised when I asked to find out that the T-leaf-t tins (with masking tape labels across the fronts admittedly) actually contained Dilmah tea.
The decor is contemporary industrial – polished concrete floor, big metal-frame glass windows, metal stools (plus some black webbing chairs and bench seats), and a high ceiling with exposed utilities. Noise doesn’t seem to be a problem, though there haven’t been many people whenever I’ve visited. Easy-to-ignore music plays away in the background.
The décor is Scandinavian minimal and definitely does not crowd the space. In fact, there is a whole section of unused real estate behind the line of central tables that serves little purpose. I can see the designer’s problem however. There is a barely-used door in the glass wall into the interior of the building and a couple of pillars. So you could theoretically fit a whole row of tables in if you closed off that door, and pushed the main block back to the glass wall, but it would be ugly.
There are no newspapers to read but maybe that’s because it is more of a lunch place, or maybe they like to keep it slick and clean looking and such things would look too messy. And I must add that there wasn’t much interest in my vaccine pass when I asked if the server wanted to view it.
This is a muesli that most people would be happy with. But for me there was just too much dried fruit when there was already plenty of the fresh stuff. Plus the yoghurt was disappointingly blah and the compote a bit sweet.
Black Doris has a sharp, carefully tuned design aesthetic more suited to the business end of town where customers are there for a short span of time and not planning to take their shoes off and blob out for an hour or two. That it is not open in weekends reflects this.
Reviewed January 2022.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.