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National Library of New Zealand, 70 Molesworth St, Thorndon, Wellington
Opens 7am, closes 5pm, weekdays; 9am to 1pm Saturday
Muesli (granola) $10, porridge $11; Havana coffee, T-Leaf tea

Home is a great name for an eatery, suggesting a place to while away your time in comfort. And the Home café inside the National Library building certainly is somewhere you can relax. At least, that is, on a Saturday: it can be packed with office workers on weekday mornings. There is a whole variety of seating, from couches to regular tables to high tables and stools. Its the sort of place where people read and eat. You can’t take the National Library’s books into the café, but as of 2019 there is a temporary branch of the Wellington Public Library at the far end, so you have books and magazine right at hand.

I have been keen to visit this space for its comfort and the convenience of being able to do some research upstairs in the National Library during the weekend. But the listing of both the porridge and muesli have put me off. Poached fruit with muesli or porridge is not a good sign in my experience. Too bland.

And I was right. The dish listed as muesli was a granola, well toasted, consisting of clumped oats, one or two pumpkin seeds, and a fair bit of dried fruit such as dates, cranberries, raisins and apricot. It was very chewy with the dried fruit, but not sugary outside of all the added dried fruit. The poached pear wasn’t as bland as it could be, and had some subtle flavour added. The yoghurt was nicely tangy. There wasn’t enough to add liquid to the granola though so I had to ask for milk. I’m surprised it wasn’t served as standard.

The Americano coffee was good and served in a good, thick walled cup, but it nevertheless did loose heat more quickly than a mug would have. I bought a cheese scone to take home and I have to announce that it wasn’t anything special. On a 1 to 5 scale of Wellington café scones I’d rate it about 2.5. Not enough cheese in it.

People drifted in between 9 and 10 am, but there was no prospect of the place getting crowded on a Saturday morning. It is in the government end of town, so not so many people living nearby. I suspect a fair number of patrons were visiting the library for research or maybe lived in one of the few apartment buildings nearby. There is a small farmers market by the St Paul’s cathedral close by, so that and the large New World further up Molesworth St are about the only places open in the vicinity on Saturdays.

Conclusion

Granola pretty average, lacks nuts and has too much dried fruit. Yoghurt good. No fresh fruit. Environment is comfortable. During the week it is pretty lively and popular with people working nearby. On a Saturday it is quiet. Like, well, a library.

Reviewed December 2019.

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