106 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay, Wellington
Opens 7am daily; closes 6pm Sun to Thurs, 10pm Fri, Sat
Granola $15; Havana coffee, Harney & Sons tea
The curiously named Lola Stays used to be known as the long-running Vista eatery, favoured by the well-heeled boat shoe set (Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club is opposite and Wellington’s mini-Riviera further down the road). It still feels posh, if a tad less starchy than Vista.
So how flash is the granola? It’s a crunchy and dry mix that must have been baked with a liquid (water or fruit juice) rather than oil or a sugar-based binder to make the oat grains clump. It certainly has a baked rather than raw oats taste, but I must say there was also a slightly rancid taste present too. Maybe this mix had been sitting around too long? Oats were the dominant component. In addition were walnuts, pumpkin seeds and black sesame seeds. No dried fruit, which I count as a plus.
The granola was topped with a creamy yoghurt (Zany Zeus Greek?), sliced banana and kiwifruit, toasted coconut flakes and a berry compote that was somewhat sweet. There was a bit of sweetness in the granola mix, but overall I would rate this fairly low in sugar. As you can see, the milk comes in an enamel container in the granola bowl. I’m not sure if this enhances or detracts from the appearance, but I can say that there wasn’t enough milk to wet the dry mix of the granola and I had to ask for more.
Above is what I had at Lola in August 2019. As you can see, it was a more oily mix and had dried fruit. The sugar level was fine then too, but I hated the poached pears being coated in chocolate. I like chocolate, but I find it tiresome the way it is added to nearly everything these days. But what really annoyed me was that the Lola Stays website showed a picture of a fantastic-looking granola that bore no resemblance to what was served. I accept some variation, but this was grossly different. The image has gone now, so I probably shouldn’t mention it. It’s just that the misrepresentation made me feel grumpy about Lola for a long time.
The Americano coffee was fine and served in a cup. On another occasion my companion had toasted cinnamon bread and English Breakfast tea, and felt the bread was under toasted. However, our the tea was good (Harney & Sons tea bag), though served in coffee cups. And at a recent lunch there I had butternut spinach salad with fried chick peas and black rice. I thought it was blah. The lunch menu is meat heavy, and this was pretty much the only option besides side-salad items and calamari (can be dodgy environmentally, depending how it’s caught) and one fish dish.
Lola Stays does provide a nice environment, with light wood tables and chairs, French doors opening out on the pavement (just don’t sit near the door on a breezy day), and a light-filled interior. It is near the waterfront, and you get a sense of that even though you can’t actually see the sea. The adjacent road is busy, so sitting outside is not necessarily a great experience.
Lola Stays is popular around brunch time in the weekends and lunch during the week. I was surprised to find it packed on a Friday morning at about 9.30am too. This is usually a slack time between the coffee-before-work crowd and the morning tea folks for cafés. But I guess that’s in areas where people have jobs to go to. Undoubtedly a fine day helps a lot with a waterfront eatery too. My disappointment at finding the place full was compounded by the fact that newspapers to read are not offered.
As for the name Lola Stays, David Burton’s restaurant review nails it when he says it is risible [laughable, ludicrous] and grammatically ugly, but that it does at least stick in the mind.
Granola OK but the mixture might have been a bit old. Less nuts and seeds than the previous version, and thankfully without chocolate, but not as attractive to look at. Great environment, but it can be crowded on a sunny day.
Reviewed March 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.