135-137 Featherston St, central Wellington
Opens 7am weekdays, 9am weekends; closes late
Porridge $12.50; muesli $12.50; house brand coffee
Leuven brands itself as a ‘Belgian beer café’, so I’d always thought of it as a pub until I discovered it also serves Belgian themed breakfast. I was curious to know what its Havermoutpap /Bouillie de Gruau (Belgian porridge) was like so I popped in on a weekday morning.
The menu described the porridge as served steaming, and it certainly was that. Too hot to eat straight away. And curiously it came without milk to cool it down (isn’t Belgium known for its dairy products?), but perhaps that was because it was cooked with milk. It certainly tasted like that – very rich. Also contained within the mix was cooked apple and a hint of cinnamon. Altogether it seemed a bit fatty and sweet. Somehow the thought of hotel breakfasts came to mind (sugar and fat).
Served separately in a small container were some apple slices and grapes and a lot of raisins. I wasn’t sure what to do with the raisins, so I sprinkled some on top of the porridge. I used to make my porridge by boiling it with sultanas, so maybe I wasn’t the first person to think of mixing porridge and dried fruit. As for the coffee, the Americano coffee was fine, if a somewhat small serving.
The interior of the eatery is quite spectacular, with a very high ceiling, ornate frosted glass, wood panelling, mirrors and clusters of hanging lamps. The building was erected in 1907 for rural merchants Murray, Roberts & Co. The offices were at street level and they stored wool on the upper floors.
I’m not sure why, but there is one section of tables up half a flight of stairs (maybe this is where the managers were seated) and below that, another set down half a flight from ground level. There are plenty of other cosy spots to sit as well. With only a handful of people at the tables on the early weekday morning I was there it felt like the sort of place you could stay awhile in comfort.
A pleasant and unstressed environment where you can hide away from the city bustle. Porridge quite rich and certainly steaming hot.
Reviewed September 2019.