128 Wakefield St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 7am Wed-Fri, 8am weekends; closes 3pm; re-opens at 5pm Wed-Mon
Bircher muesli $14; Supreme coffee, t-Leaf-T tea
Cin Cin was formerly Eat, and before that the very popular Felix eatery during the 1990s and 2000s. I had granola at Eat and it was fairly undistinguished, but I was nevertheless disappointed when Cin Cin first took over they didn’t do breakfasts. Well, as of January 2022 that has changed, though the online menu doesn’t cover this yet and advertised hours still state an opening time of 11am, some three or four hours after actual opening.
If you are as ignorant as I am you may not know ‘cin cin’ is pronounced ‘chin chin’ and is used in Italy and some other European countries to mean the drinking salutation ‘cheers’. Interestingly, is that it is derived from Chinese (either Mandarin or Cantonese – sources vary) in the nineteenth century as a greeting amongst sailors but is rarely used in the original language today.
The bircher is described as orange and berry bircher muesli on the menu, with chia, fresh fruit and toasted seeds. Yep, there was plenty of seasonal fresh fruit, even including cherries. The seeds were pumpkin, sunflower and sesame, and were sprinkled over the fruit. Hiding under everything was a purple bircher muesli thick with whole blueberries and a number of goji berries. Sesame and I think sunflower seeds were within it too.
Most noticeable was the volume of chia seeds. These had swollen from soaking and made quite a gelatinous mix. One section attached itself to my spoon like a dense raft of jellyfish. I asked if there were oats in the mix, as I couldn’t see any and the owner (I think that’s who we were served by) seemed a bit unsure for a moment and then said yes. Personally, I didn’t see any evidence of them, but they may have been present.
The nett effect was a bit tasteless and jelly-like. I have nothing against chia seeds, and they provide great soluble fibre, but you can have too much of a good thing as well. I’d cut back on the chia and increase the oats.
As Eat, and perhaps Felix, this eatery has long had clear plastic blinds on the street side that can be rolled up on fine days to provide a second, semi-outdoors space under the verandah. These days the trademark Cin Cin Fiat Bambina is parked here and artificial grass lines the floor. Inside, another nod to Italian heritage is the hand painted copy on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel fresco depicting the creation of Adam.
I always remember Felix as a hideously noisy place to go for a coffee or lunch. That was when there were far fewer good eateries in Wellington and people really packed in here. As Eat you didn’t have to worry about crowds at breakfast time though, and this seems the same as Cin Cin at present, though this may pick up as their breakfast dining gets established (Covid willing).
I have to say that there was pretty horrible music playing when we were there, though it wasn’t annoyingly loud. And I didn’t check whether newspapers were offered. Perhaps not.
A soaked chia form of bircher muesli with a gelatinous texture and little taste. Nicely presented however, and generously served with a variety of fresh fruit. The coffee was good (no filter served), the seats comfortable and the patronage nicely sparse.
Reviewed January 2022
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.