1 Upland Rd, Kelburn, Wellington
Opens 9am daily; closes 3pm Sun–Thurs, 8pm Fri & Sat
Porridge $13; Emporio coffee, t-leaf-T tea
The Cable Top Eatery occupies an enviable site at the top of Wellington’s Cable Car. It was originally the location of the Kelburn Kiosk tea rooms, opened in 1905 in a magnificent Edwardian building. The tea rooms became the Skyline Restaurant, a pretty swanky venue in the 1960s and 70s. But two fires in 1982 destroyed the building. It was rebuilt, but was no longer as grand. The Skyline continued for three years before folding. Now it is the Cable Top, offering counter food and fairly standard cooked dishes, as well as selling gelato.
There seems to be a rule that a tourist clientele and great location make for overpriced, mediocre food and surly service. Cable Top definitely has tourists and a location with panoramic views, but the porridge I sampled was neither overpriced nor mediocre and the staff were very friendly and genuine.
The porridge was made from regular rolled oats and was nicely creamy, with just the right consistency. It was billed as spiced chai with winter fruit compote. Yes, it was mildly spiced, and it was topped with a stripe of berry compote, though the only way I can imagine berries as a winter fruit is to think of them coming from the chilled conditions of a freezer! The compote had a few sprigs of mint on it. Served in a nice large bowl, the whole dish was very well presented.
The Americano coffee (no filter available) was huge and only cost $3.50. It is rare that I eat my muesli or porridge with coffee and still have coffee left at the end of it, but this was such an occasion. I think the eatery usually has newspapers to read, but it sounded like these had been cancelled due to low expected patronage during Covid-19 restrictions.
There were few people eating at about 9.30 on a Sunday morning, but it was only a few days after the Covid level 3 lock-down had been lifted, and tourists were very thin on the ground – non-existent actually.
Wonderfully presented porridge, huge coffee, very nice staff, great views, sunny seating (including outdoors). Nothing super special about the porridge, but on some days that’s quite OK. Muesli or granola was on the menu last summer, so I must come back when it appears again.
Reviewed May 2020.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.