The Oatery

Oatery - seasonal porridge header image

14 Left Bank, Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
7.30am–2pm Wed–Fri; 8.30am–2.30pm Sat
Porridge $12.50–$14, bircher $12.50, granola $15; Supreme coffee, Winston’s tea

The Oatery is an eatery after my heart – and the spirit of this site – for it sells oat based food. It opened in the Left Bank, off Cuba Mall in December 2021. Before then it operated as a caravan at the Harbourside fruit and vegetable market, but now seems to have ended its presence there. Many of the photos you see below were taken on the lawn there.

The Oatery serves quite a few varieties of porridge, and to date I’ve had five of them. They were all good. I’ll start with the most recent, the ‘seasonal porridge’, eaten at the Left Bank. That’s the one in the photo at top. It has stewed rhubarb and strawberries, lemon curd, yoghurt (Greek or coconut) and granola layered over the oat milk porridge. I’ve long been sprinkling granola over porridge. You get the best of both worlds then and the crunch and variety of tastes of the granola contrast nicely with the soft and bland nature of porridge.

Oatery - apple porridge Oct 2019

It rarely gets better than the seasonal porridge. Or does it? My first sampling of The Oatery’s offerings was apple porridge at the Sunday market in October 2019. It necessarily came in a paper bowl, which meant a smallish serving – more of a snack than a hearty breakfast. You can see I’ve had to stand it on the grass to take a photo.

Again you have a bottom layer of porridge cooked in oat milk. This was topped with a generous layer of whole and broken roasted hazelnuts combined with butter and coconut sugar. There was a bit of salt in there too, so you had a sort of salted caramel taste. Then there was a dense covering of thinly sliced raw apple. The hazelnut mix was just delicious, and a great complement to porridge.

The coffee was a bit on the lukewarm side. It was poured from a coffee jug into a paper cup and had been sitting in the jug for a little too long. It was the same temperature the second time I visited the caravan. Maybe the coffee pot needs a warmer.

The Oatery compote porridge

In June 2020 the selection of porridge on offer had expanded to include banana porridge and compote porridge. That’s the compote one above. It had a wonderful persimmon and tamarillo compote, Greek-style yoghurt and spiced granola over the top of the porridge. It was pretty tasty.

Oatery - carrot porridge 2020

I went back to the waterfront market a week after trying the persimmon and tamarillo compote porridge, thinking I’d have the banana so I could say I’d sampled all The Oatery’s offerings. But lo and behold there was a more enticing option that now replaced the compote: a carrot porridge with walnuts, coconut slivers, sliced fresh pear, ginger, maple syrup and Greek yoghurt.

You can’t see it in the above photo, but the porridge was tinged yellow by being cooked in carrot juice and oat milk. And there was an amazing medley of tastes and textures, from the ginger flavouring that pops up here and there to the puffed grain, walnuts, toasted coconut and thick yoghurt. Oh, and those are amaranth sprouts on the top. I’ve never encountered them before but they sure look pretty. Maybe other cafés should forget about decorative flowers and have something like this with more nutritional value?

And, just to round things off, I finally got to the banana porridge on another Sunday, and it is a case of last but not least. Here we have porridge topped with sliced banana, crunchy peanut butter, coconut yoghurt and ‘cacao crunch’.

The peanut butter was salted, which I would normally avoid, but here the salt enhanced the more neutral porridge. The choice of coconut yoghurt was a great idea, as it avoided the sort of double fat addition from both peanut butter and, say, a Greek yoghurt. The use of cacao nibs was also inspired, as it avoided the problem of adding chocolate to porridge and getting a sticky, gluggy result. And finally, as with the Maranui porridge, the buckwheat contributed a satisfying crunch to an otherwise softly textured combination of ingredients. This porridge was by far the most filling of The Oatery offerings because of the peanut butter.

Oatery - exterior

And the menu at the Left Bank. You can see it includes some of the varieties I’ve covered above.

Oatery - menu at Left Bank, Dec 2021

The Oatery sells its own brands of granola, which are pretty good. You can get them at the café, Moore Wilsons (in the ‘fresh’ department), Farro Fresh in Auckland or The Oatery online. And their website has some interesting recipes (under ‘journal’) for oat dishes, including delicious sounding fried banana and tahini porridge as well as a ‘porridge bread’.

Here is a shot of the caravan, but I haven’t seen it since the beginning of 2022.

Oatery caravan at market

A great idea to have a specialist oats-based food outlet. Which porridge is best? Hard to say. The apple porridge is still memorable after eating it over two years ago. You can’t say that about many dishes. But I might have the carrot porridge again, just because it is a bit different from your usual and has a medley of tastes and textures.

The Oatery gets a place at the top of my porridge page rankings for its porridge alone, but the caravan didn’t score so well on things like eating from a real bowl, café ambience, etc. True, the Wellington waterfront was potentially as good an eating environment as you could get, but it depended on the weather… On the other hand, the Left Bank premises does serve porridge in a bowl, but the ambience is, well, a matter of taste.

Reviewed October 2019; June and July 2020; December 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.

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