181 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 8am; closes 9pm, closed Monday
Bircher $15.50; muesli $14.50; coconut puffs $13.50; Supreme coffee (incl filter), Tea Total tea
Loretta is a relatively new place that could be described as a café/restaurant and is known for its fine food. It is also spacious inside, so you don’t need to worry about it being crowded early in the morning.
The generous portion of muesli seemed about 50/50 oats and finely grated apple (Granny Smith I would guess). There weren’t any nuts or seeds, but it was topped with nicely cooked rhubarb – slightly acid, firm and with a hint of rose water(?) The fejoa topping of the menu was absent, but I would allow for substitutions like this according to season and availability. The menu says the oats are soaked in apple juice, but there may have been milk in there too.
I was back in April 2021 to give the granola a go. One of my dining companions had the bircher, so here is what it looks like now. It remains close to the original bircher concept, being mainly oats and apple, but we agreed that a sprinkling of nuts or seeds might usefully jizz it up.
Loretta serves filter coffee and mine came in a mug with its own wooden tray (to prevent heat stains on the nice new tables?) It was at a decent temperature and tasted good. You get a bottomless mug if you order filter coffee.
I had a cup of Irish Blend tea (English Breakfast not available) on another occasion with a cheese scone. The tea tasted really good. It was leaf tea and came in a large cast iron pot that had about 3 cups worth in it. Pouring was without spillage. The only negative is that the cup was a coffee cup, but thankfully not a coloured one. But then later I also wondered why there was no consistency with tableware. With everything else studio-made pottery why couldn’t the tea pot, milk jug and perhaps even tea cup also be?
The cheese scone was OK, but really needed more cheese in it. I’d rate it six out of ten. It came with what I think you could call whipped butter. It was almost whipped cream, but not quite and was very salty.
Speaking of nice tables above, I guess you would call the design contemporary Scandinavian. Clean lines, light-coloured wood, precise.
The earthy bowls, mugs and plates are made by Wairarapa potter Paul Melser.
I’ve included three shots to show you the main seating areas, from the most popular street-side (above), through the long hall with its single row of tables (further above), to a room at the back with coloured glass where people tend not to go, but which is definitely the nicest. Not sure if the latter is only for the cool people or something. But it can be booked for groups at times.
The tables are a bit high relative to the seats – your elbows have to bend upwards to get your hands on the table, as though you have suddenly become a child again.
Despite being large inside, the street frontage is small and not very obvious. However, just look out for the more distinct Cuba Street landmark Slow Boat Records next door.
Bircher muesli is OK but nothing too special. Coffee includes good single origin filter, the tea is good and kombucha is available. Environment is very pleasant.
Reviewed August 2019.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.