Spruce Goose

Spruce Goose muesli close-up

Corner Moa Pt Rd and Cochrane St, Lyall Bay, Wellington
Opens 7am daily; closes midnight Sun to Thurs, 2am Fri, Sat
Granola (muesli) $14, bircher $14; Supreme coffee, t-Leaf-T tea

Spruce Goose is named after Howard Hughes’ gigantic wooden flying boat of the 1940s – a hugely ambitious achievement but which only ever made one short flight. It is an extensively refurbished former aero club building and is a great place for watching planes taking off at Wellington’s airport, or surfers in Lyall Bay.

Spruce Goose looking out windows to south

Besides ‘granola’, Spruce Goose serves ‘chia seed and coconut milk bircher’ with ancient grains. I wasn’t sure if that was simply a sort of chia pudding, so opted for the granola. I am calling muesli here: its oats are highly toasted but are not crunchy or clump together like granola and the sugar content is low.

Spruce Goose muesli and coffee

The muesli is described as home-made on the menu, and no doubt that is the case, but aside from the bronzed colour of the oat flakes its composition pretty much follows the pattern of supermarket bulk-bin mueslis: large size oat flakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes and shred, almond slices, dried cranberries, pawpaw, papaya, pineapple and banana. The dried fruit made the mix fairly chewy.

The best part of the dish was the topping: a very generous serve of Zany Zeus yoghurt with an attractive addition of berries, chia seeds and a flower. Underneath this was a smallish quantity of fresh fruit: sliced grapes, pineapple and orange.

The Americano coffee was fine. I noticed others being served tea in coffee cups, so I don’t think I will bother with tea if I ever come again.

Spruce Goose looking out windows to airport

I popped into Spruce Goose at around 7.40am on a Saturday morning. There were up to ten people there, but within half an hour the place started to fill. The main section is probably noisy when completely full, with its polished concrete floors, large glass windows and fairly low, flat ceiling, but at half capacity sound wasn’t an issue. The audience seemed to be family groups (it’s near the Lyall Bay megastores and there is plenty of car parking) and people out for an early morning walk. The outdoor seating means you can bring your dog along. Good marks for decent bike stands right outside.

Spruce Goose interior near door

The eatery has a lot of space but staff seem to carefully parcel it out. When I was there the section in the photo below was roped off. And surely the best pace for watching planes and surfers, the upstairs section, was also closed. I was told that it opened up when the place got really busy – around midday on weekends, and/or was used for functions. Pity.

The decor is definitely not my taste. Think middle-brow New Zealand. I don’t know what else to call it. Pieces of furniture rusticated by being roughly stripped or sanded back. Wall murals (a sea scene in the above photo). Welded steel mirror frames made out of old drums. Store-bought knick-knacks. Faked character.

The most curious thing is that despite the eatery’s name, the building’s former use, and the plane-spotting location, the theming of the decor is nautical. Not a propeller, flying jacket or model aircraft in sight.

Spruce Goose exterior seating with gulls

The wall behind Spruce Goose, and the building itself, do provide some shelter from Wellington’s prevailing northerly winds, but there may not be any shade unless staff open the umbrellas, so bring a sunhat. And you may have to endure hungry-looking gulls eyeing you carefully, waiting for that moment when you depart to snatch a morsel.

Spruce Goose exterior
Conclusion

A family place that is very popular in weekends and with food to match. That is, adequate on a variety of scores, but nothing really distinctive.

Reviewed January 2020.

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