44 Onepu Rd, Lyall Bay, Wellington
Opens 8am Tues to Sun; closes 3pm; closed Mon
Muesli $15; Allpress coffee, Harney & Sons tea
Elements is in a 1920s butcher’s shop on the main road down from Kilbirnie to the Lyall Bay beach. It’s not too far from The Botanist, Maranui and Queen Sally’s Diamond Deli, so there’s fairly strong competition in the area, but I think you can say that Elements largely holds its own. More on this in the Conclusion.
Let’s get the usual issue of nomenclature out of the way first. I’m calling the dish muesli though it is on the menu as granola. It is muesli because it isn’t highly toasted and there is none of the crunchy clumping of granola. It is comprised of fairly small grains or flakes of oats. These are roasted in oil I would guess. There is certainly not a lot of sweetening in the oats. They are mixed with a decent serve of barely roasted (or unroasted) nuts, including almonds, peanuts with skins on and cashews, as well as one or two hazelnuts and walnuts and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Chopped dried apricots are the other contribution.
So, overall a pretty healthy mix, with the dried fruit not overdone. This was accompanied by a nice coconut yoghurt, a raw sliced pear, and a light sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberries (more for appearance than taste). The menu described the dish as ‘orange and maple granola’, but I can’t say I detected the orange or maple syrup.
There are two entrances to the café. You can come in at the side on Wha St, where the counter and a smallish space (pictured above) with three or so tables is. It’s pleasantly sunny here. Or there is the Onepu St frontage with a more formal sort of door but with no wait staff to greet you. This leads into a large, still very pleasant space, that connects to the front room.
The back room also joins to a shopping section where you can buy some deli items and all sorts of nicely presented foodie-type gifts and the like: fancy chocolate, teas, sauces, vinegars, jams, beauty products, homewares, etc, etc. It is all online too. And there is a fridge in the back room with reasonably priced heat-and-eat meals to purchase (also listed on the website).
Elements doesn’t seem to get too busy at first on a Saturday morning – unlike Maranui down the road – so its a relaxed place to hang out. I was disappointed there was no Saturday paper to read though. But I did find some old week-day copies and magazines, so it wasn’t a total write-off in that department.
I like the feel of Elements. The large windows make it a light and sunny space, and this is complemented by the light coloured natural wood tables. As for the muesli, it’s a perfectly fine and healthy choice, with relatively low sugar and not over toasted. It is also an original: the pear is presented as though it’s cooked but it is raw and the muesli doesn’t match anything you would get in a packet. How does Elements compare to Maranui, The Botanist, etc? Not as crowded. Better environment than The Botanist and, arguably, the impersonal Spruce Goose. And a lot more spacious than the tiny Queen Sally’s. But I still consider that Maranui does the best muesli (or porridge) in town, and so long as it isn’t heaving with people, offers a very pleasant environment with a sea view to boast (and newspapers!)
Reviewed May 2022.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.