Clyde Quay Wharf, Oriental Bay, Wellington
Opens: 7:30am Mon, Wed-Fri, 8am weekend; closes 2:30pm weekdays, 4:30pm weekend
Muesli $15; Ripe coffee, Indonesian, English and green teas
Seroja has replaced Mojo Pōneke, which closed in early 2020. That was quite a classy version of the Mojo chain’s formula, with a wine list and evening meals, but somehow it can’t have made a go of the site. Rent too high? Too out of the way? Too much a departure from the Mojo brand? Can the Indonesian-themed Seroja do any better?
I was impressed by the dense amount and variety of fruit packed on the top of the muesli bowl. There were even out-of-season strawberries and blueberries. There was a small amount of berry compote too, and chia seeds were sprinkled over everything.
I was less keen on the yoghurt. It is the sort of highly emulsified and sweetened sort made by Yoplait, Fresh ‘n Fruity and Meadow Fresh that you buy in supermarkets. And it wasn’t just added as the usual dollop but mixed in with the muesli itself too, as is also done at Centennial Coffee House in Lyall Bay.
It was a bit difficult to see what was in the muesli mix as a consequence of the combination with yoghurt, but there were quite a lot of dried cranberries. The rest seemed to be whole-grain oats and pecan nuts. I guess it was OK, if rather undistinguished, and definitely spoiled by the type of yoghurt used.
On the other hand, the Indonesian tea was a revelation to me. It comes with a very small cup and sugar crystals, but you don’t need the latter. And there is plenty in the tea pot to allow you down many of those cups. I can’t exactly describe the taste except to say that it was somewhere between regular and oolong tea, with a spicy, herbal addition. This comes from the addition of a single, fresh kaffir lime leaf. I’ll have to look into this some more. Maybe you can buy packets of the stuff at Seroja. The Ripe Coffee Roasters coffee is also interesting, with a Mocha Java blend and a single-origin high-grown Sulawesi variety.
On the subject of extras, I had a delicious coconut and rice slice. Not too sweet and very moist. And I had a cheese scone on a later occasion. These are perfectly good, but mine did come re-heated in a sandwich press, so it was squashed. I guess some people like it like this, but it transforms a scone into something else.
Last time I was here I had the muesli as a sort of parfait, or desert, in a glass, with layers of custard and yoghurt. The muesli had quite a lot of cornflakes in it, so quite a different mix from what we now have. The owner tells me that they are experimenting with the menu so things change fairly often. I’ve given my feedback on the yoghurt, so that might be one thing that changes. And getting a balance of Indonesian breakfast dishes (nasi goreng, lontong sayur and soto ayam) with the Kiwi standards of eggs on toast, avocado on toast and… muesli, is an interesting challenge.
The space is done out with Indonesian decorations and furnishings, but not in an overwhelming way. This could be intentional but it may also be a necessity, with the glass, steel and concrete architecture hindering a complete ethnic make-over.
One thing I like is that the barrier between the two spaces has been partly opened up, as you can see in the above photo. Previously the back seating area was a dark space, with light only coming from the windows at one end. Now it spills over from the main area.
This venue has always had one problem: it is right by the water and looks onto the adjacent boat harbour. But, except in the very late afternoon, it lies in shade. It looks to expansive environments but is cut off from them. It’s like being in an expensive apartment that faces entirely south. Here are contrasting shots from morning and late afternoon:
The muesli has heaps of varied fresh fruit as a topping. The muesli layer below is rather unusually mixed through with yoghurt. Unfortunately the yoghurt is the bland and sweetened family variety you buy in supermarkets. And, except for the pecan nuts, muesli is fairly ordinary as well. However, the Indonesian tea is amazing and Indonesian coffees are offered. I’d love it if the space were sunny in the morning, but you have to wait for the afternoon to really enjoy it.
Reviewed June 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.