345 The Terrace, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 6.30am weekdays, 7am weekends; closes for breakfast 10:30am
Granola $19; Bottomless coffee $5
The Mövenpick Hotel (formerly Grand Mercure) is near where I live so I thought I’d better try it. Especially as they make a thing about their restaurant, the Forage Kitchen & Bar, claiming that they ‘harvest elements from New Zealand’s unique terrior and bring back stories from the farm’. No, it didn’t make much sense to me either, but I looked up ‘terrior’, and it is a word: meaning the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced. French from Latin in origin – from which we derive ‘territory’.
There is an à la carte menu as well as a continental or cooked breakfast buffet. I chose the granola off the menu. Which seemed just as well, as the buffet was the usual dire hotel spread with cereals out of a box and fruit out of a can. Although I have to say that the bowl at left in the above photograph seemed to have the same granola I received in my specially prepared version. The difference was that I got some syrup lightly drizzled over mine, plus the artfully applied dollops of yoghurt and a sliced peach. Given that I had to pay $5 just to get coffee out of the buffet coffee machine I think that the $28 buffet might actually have been better value, and I could have had stewed plums as well as other fruit.
But as to what I actually ate: it was extremely toasted. To a crisp in fact, including the dried apple, dried banana, coconut flakes, sultanas, pawpaw and almonds. I would not toast sultanas like this. You end up either with very hard lumps (risking a broken tooth) or crunchy charcoal shells with a burnt taste. And both the apple and banana broke into powder in my mouth.
The berry compote was mostly boring strawberries, though with a nice hint of mint. I forgot to record what sort of yoghurt it was, but obviously it wasn’t memorable. No milk was served with the granola, but I helped myself to some soy milk at the buffet. I’d like to think that was included in the price.
The dining room is very nice, and I deliberately went on a sunny morning. The sun was in fact overly intense just after sunrise as it streamed horizontally into the room and some people resorted to pulling the curtains across.
Part of the reason I visited was to see what the view was like. You get a panorama from the bottom of Aro Valley across to Mt Victoria and then to the harbour, but you are not quite high enough to see over the top of many high rise buildings in Willis St to actually see the sea. But at 7.30 am it was hard to see anything much as the sun was so strongly shining into my eyes and the windows were a little bit dirty.
I think the view would be much more interesting later in the day, especially for dinner in the evening. On the other hand, I enjoyed the sun streaming into the dining room.
And the sun plays delightfully on the curtains in the bar seating area early in the morning. You would lose that in the evening too. Where can I get gauze curtains like that for my place?
I wouldn’t call this granola bad. Indeed it is better than that served in some other hotels. But I did think it was over toasted. The grains could handle this amount of toasting, but you should add the other ingredients in halfway through cooking, or even not toast them at all and add at the end. And I think you would get better value for money by paying the buffet price and just making up your own topping, as well as having a few other things to eat (thought the range was neither extensive nor exciting).
By the way, a Mövenpick hotel but no Mövenpick ice cream served at breakfast, though that would be nice.
Reviewed October 2022.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.