149 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 7am weekdays, 8am weekend; closes 4pm Mon to Fri, 3pm weekend; open evening 5pm–9.30pm Thurs to Sat
Granola $14; Karamu coffee, t-Leaf-T tea
Mulberry Garden is a narrow café with an attractive wooden frontage and outdoor seating on a decking at the rear.
My granola came with the largest helping of fruit I’ve experienced in any café. It was apple, pear, banana, orange and a berry compote. The granola buried under this was quite nice and nutty. A smallish amount of good tasting yoghurt was added and ample milk was served in a jug. The Americano coffee was fine the first time I was here, but the second it was shockingly luke-warm. Maybe they added cold instead of hot water by mistake. I should have sent it back but I was already running late.
I had tea on another occasion. I was given a (plastic) tea bag to put in the teapot myself. I’m not sure why some places do this. Its the getting it out and having somewhere to put it when the tea is too strong that is more the issue. Anyway, the English Breakfast tea tasted fine without being anything remarkable, the pot held a good two or more cups and poured well, and best of all, that rarity or rarities, the cup was a tea cup, not one repurposed from serving coffee.
I’ve been to Mulberry Garden just after 8am on both a Saturday morning and in the week, and in neither case were there many patrons present. So even though the number of tables is limited you don’t have to worry about finding one. However, people do tend to quickly grab the best seat, the one by the front window (above), and it is a bit dark at the back (below). There is also the garden part beyond, though I didn’t check if there was a mulberry tree.
The seats themselves are comfy. And chances are you can find a large enough table to spread a newspaper out, or work your way through the generous shelves of magazines.
I said the front is attractive, but that’s only half true. The owners have put a whole clutter of stuff outside to attract patrons to what would otherwise be an easily missed frontage. Next door is the jewellery gallery Quoil, which once also used to share the nice varnished woodwork of Mulberry Garden, but this has been painted black now and the two places no longer work together visually.
After complaining about the lack of fresh fruit at other cafés I’ve met my match here. The only downside is that the bowl is a bit small to contain the fruit and granola. And, based on having two coffees, one OK, one sub-standard, Mulberry Garden only gets a half score on the coffee front.
Reviewed July 2019