132 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 7am weekdays, 8am weekends; closes 4pm weekdays, 3pm weekends
Granola $15; porridge $14; Supreme filter coffee & black espresso $4, bottomless filter $6; Ritual Tea Co tea
Neo Café and Eatery has been going for at least 20 years and is always full when I walk past to work in the mornings. Even on Saturday mornings it is substantially filling up by 9am. It is quite a small space, so best to pick your time.
Wow, what can I say about the presentation? This has to be one of the most attractive bowls of cereal I’ve had anywhere, anytime. A bed of tasty ‘ancient grains’ granola thankfully devoid of dried fruit was covered in coconut yoghurt and, according to the menu, cashew and coconut butter, though I’m not sure I detected that. Fresh fruit, consisting of apple, grapes, orange and kiwi fruit, completed the dish.
The whole was drizzled in something like thin jam and sprinkled with flowers, coconut flakes and chia seeds. The yoghurt did taste a bit like whipped cream I have to say, so not yoghurt as I would expect it (or maybe this was the cashew and coconut butter?) The jam stuff was attractive, but I might have preferred to do without its sugar. I did have to ask for milk for the granola but that was freely given.
And, hooray, there was filter coffee at no more than the price of an espresso and it came in a mug. Standard teas are Ritual Tea Co and there are flavored ones by Noble & Savage and t-leaf-T. They also serve porridge and I have a separate review on that.
I tried the tea on another occasion too. Plus ordered granola again to see if it would be the same. It wasn’t. It did have the same basic granola base (good), but the selection of fresh fruit (orange, pineapple, banana) was not as interesting (not so good), and the presentation was below the bar set by my earlier experience. On the plus side I could taste the nut butter this time (now described as coffee and maple peanut butter on the menu), and there was a sprinkling of freeze-dried raspberries. There was also a not very exciting rhubarb and strawberry compote that wasn’t part of the ingredients list the first time round.
As for the tea, that was fine. There was a good quantity of it in a pot that was large enough that it didn’t dribble, and the coffee cup it was served in was the narrower, teacup shape variety, so no real issue there.
Newspapers are available but the tables were a bit small to spread one out on. It’s a common issue. I was the first to be seated at about 8.10am on a Saturday and by 8.40 there were about six or seven people, and noise level was low. At 9.30 on another Saturday you can see above that it is getting pretty full.
The granola base is perfect– plenty of seeds and nuts, no dried fruit, low sugar. Good amount of fresh fruit too. Presentation can be excellent, but is not guaranteed. A variety of options for filter coffee exist (single cup, bottomless and barista’s choice) and the tea is pretty well done. A deservedly popular café, so get in early.
Reviewed June & December 2019