181 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 8am; closes 9pm (10pm Sat, 8.30 Sun), closed Monday
Muesli $14.50, bircher $15.50, coconut puffs $13.50; Supreme coffee (incl filter), Tea Total tea
Loretta has a fairly modest street presence, but once inside you find it stretches a long way back, which means you don’t need to worry about it being crowded early in the morning. Its design aesthetic is Scandinavian modern, with light-toned wooden tables and chairs and minimal decoration. Its tableware is mostly earthenware pottery by Wairarapa potter Paul Melser.
The muesli (called granola on the menu) seems to fit this pared-back design philosophy. It verges on the spartan. There is no fresh fruit or yoghurt, and no nuts. Just puffed grains and dried goji berries and blueberries. That’s it. Dried cranberries were mentioned on the menu but I didn’t see them. You do get a good choice of plant plus cow’s milk though. This is all very healthy, gluten-free and low sugar. And puffing the grains makes you feel you are eating more than you actually are, so good for the waistline on that score too. But for me it was just a bit too bland and lacking substance.
For the record, the puffed grains are buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth and brown rice. There is also another breakfast dish of coconut puffs. Here you get puffed rice and buckwheat with coconut (in what form?) and banana, plus chocolate coconut milk.
Loretta serves bottomless 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. I had a cup of tea on another occasion with a cheese scone. The tea tasted great and the scone was not bad. You can read more detail in my bircher review of Loretta.
I’ve included three shots to show you the main seating areas, from the most popular street-side (immediately 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.
Two of us had some difficultly in sitting in the back space. The waitress was strongly against it. Being so far from the counter would make it difficult for her to serve, she said, and I could see her point. As it was early in the morning she was the only wait person and all the customers were seated in the front window area. But then we were not there for a three course meal. One table visit to take orders, one to deliver them, and one to clear up, so not too demanding. She eventually relented.
As mentioned, the street frontage is small and not very obvious. However, just look out for the more distinctive Cuba Street landmark Slow Boat Records next door.
The muesli is unusual and very spartan, but good for you. It would not be everyone’s taste by a long shot, and falls entirely outside the usual formula of toasted oats with nuts, seeds and dried fruit topped by yoghurt and fresh fruit. So its nice, in theory, to have something different, and this is radically different, but it didn’t satisfy me. Coffee includes excellent single-origin filter, the tea is good, and kombucha is available. Plus the environment is very pleasant.
Reviewed April 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.