Coene’s

103 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay, Wellington
8am weekends, 11am weekdays; closes late every day
Porridge $20, granola $21; Halo coffee, T2 tea

Coene’s Bar & Eatery is in the wooden Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club building, and as you would expect from such a partnership, positioned overlooking a small boat harbour. Also reflected in such a privileged location is a somewhat expensive menu, but the food – well this porridge and a granola I’ve tried so far – is certainly worth it and I will be back for more options.

The porridge is listed on the menu as ‘Vanilla & thyme poached pear, rhubarb jam, fennel seed & coconut crumble, coconut yoghurt’. I didn’t detect any poached pear or rhubarb jam, but I’m not complaining. What I got was a milk-cooked porridge made of medium sized oat flakes poured over a bed of coconut cream and sprinkled with chia seeds and a crumble (I don’t think there was any fennel in it, but it was delicious).

Some out-of-season sliced strawberries and blueberries were also on top, along with two splodges of different fruit gels. One tasted like a lemon curd. The whole thing was delicious and I was really disappointed when I finished eating that there was no more. Nothing wrong with the serving size though. The placement of the coconut underneath instead of on top of the porridge was a brilliant concept. If I have any criticism it’s that the porridge wasn’t a little hotter, but then that might have put paid to the flowers.

I had tea this time instead of coffee and it was good, but the pot was a dribbler and the tea was served in a coffee cup. Usual Wellington café story – can manage coffee but no idea on how to serve tea.

The decor is not flashy. Indeed you could say it is rustic, with one wall of sanded-back multi-coloured louvre doors and some of the chairs straight from a school room, so though the prices are elevated it is not a snooty, white table cloth, fine dining atmosphere.

I turned up at opening time at 8am on a holiday weekend Saturday and was the only person there for a while, and even by 9am there were only three or four others. My porridge was certainly delivered far more quickly than I expected so the chef must got stuck into it immediately.

My only complaint about the place is the music being rather blah and a bit loud. You wouldn’t notice it with a lot of people in there, and I guess staff want to have something going to avoid the sense of emptiness, but I found it a distraction and I see I also grumbled about it on my last visit.

Conclusion

Top marks. Expensive but worth it. One of the few eatery porridges not treated as something to throw sugar at. Note that menu changes frequently.

Reviewed October 2019.

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