142 The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington
Opens: 7.30am weekdays, 8am weekends; closes 4.30pm, Fri to Sun 5pm
Muesli $14; Flight coffee, t-Leaf-T teas
There are five or so cafés in Island Bay. Betsy would have to be the pick of the bunch for quality of food. The Grocer’s Shed, near the beach, is said to be good but concentrates on coffee, counter food and ice cream – no muesli. The Empire Cinema and Eatery, opposite Betsy, does do muesli and it has its good and bad points. And then there are Floyd’s and Blue Belle in the main shopping village. Both serve muesli, but Floyd’s looks a bit grim, so let’s try the more inviting Blue Belle.
The menu lists ‘house toasted muesli’ with ‘sliced fruit, coconut yoghurt and your choice of milk’. I was indeed asked what sort of milk I wanted without making a special request myself. Soy milk was at no extra cost. So good marks on both counts. The fruit, as you can see was sliced banana, orange and whole grapes.
The muesli itself was quite a dry, raw mix based on small-flake rolled oats. I was surprised by the toasted description. It could well have been, but not in a mix of oil or syrup/honey, though there were one or two clumps that looked like they might have been. So quite plain tasting. There were sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds in the mix, plus cashews and maybe a few other nuts, but it remained oat dominated. There were quite a few sultanas. Overall, I found it a bland, high carb, dry mixture that needed plenty of milk to down.
The interior of Blue Belle is a bit curious. It feels like a fish and chip joint that has been opened out. At the front, in potentially the best spot for tables, are two very worn couches. Fine for sitting on while you await your takeaway coffee, but this seems a bit of a waste. Then there is one large table with stools. Also not a place where you want to spend much time eating a meal. Further back are bench seat booths and two person tables.
The whole thing is presided over by the food photographer’s nightmare: fluorescent tubes mounted directly on the ceiling. And throughout my stay sparrows flitted about in the space. With auto opening sliding doors I guess there is no point trying to shoo the them out as the birds will just fly in again next time they open.
Actually, those doors are interesting. The whole glass and steel frontage that encompasses all the shops in the block looks quite flash until you look more closely and notice the rusting metal and fading paint – and peer indoors to see even more aged interiors. Interesting in a different way is the unusual feature of hessian coffee sacks lining the back walls. Makes for a rustic kind of touch but the fluoros kill it and there is nothing to really match on the opposite wall – except some mostly bad art.
On the plus side, there are toys for children at the back, and magazines to read. Daily newspapers are also provided. Potted flowers decorate the big table and Billy Holiday and Nina Simone played quietly in the background while I was there. Outdoor seating looks quite nice.
Rather plain, dry and dull muesli, though healthy enough, with a low sugar level. Coffee was fine. There are newspapers, pleasant music, kids toys and not too many people early on a Saturday morning.
Reviewed July 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.