154 Featherston St, central Wellington
Opens: 7am Mon–Fri, 9am Sat, Sun; closes 4pm except 2pm Sat, Sun and 8pm Fri
Muesli $13.50; Supreme coffee, t-Leaf T teas
Thunderbird’s website previously said it serves a southern US and south-of-the-border menu with a ‘sprinkle of Kiwi bogan standards’. Certainly you can have tacos, burritos or huevos rancheros as well as toast and spreads, and bacon and eggs on toast. I’m not sure if the muesli is considered a bogan dish, but kind of hope it isn’t.
The muesli comes in one of those deep bowls I dislike, where you have to eat through the top layer before getting to the muesli. It makes it hard to combine the ingredients on your spoon. As you can see, the topping of fresh fruit is entirely sliced banana, and there is a plum and berry compote under that. Unusual to have plums in this sort of mix, and I appreciated that. Not too sweet either. The yoghurt seemed a fairly average type.
Beneath this upper layer is where things get interesting…sort of. The muesli is highly spiced. Not in the hot spice sense but with something like mixed spice that you would put in a sweet dish. Some cafés claim their porridge or muesli is spiced, but usually you can barely taste it. Here the spice dominates and is strong enough to colour the oat grains. The muesli mix is otherwise pretty plain – whole-grain oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dates, sultanas and dried cranberries and pawpaw. There is too much dried fruit for my liking and, spice aside, its a fairly boring mix. There is a lot to get through too and I couldn’t finish my bowl.
I had tea on another occasion. It was reasonable, but I guess that really means average. But I did have a keto cheesecake with it. This seemed to have a base made largely of nut flour and apparently it had stevia sweetener rather than sugar in the topping. It was barely sweet at all actually, which is fine by me. Interesting rather than a taste sensation.
The décor at Thunderbird is definitely Mexican and bears some resemblance to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen in Courtenay Place. Which has the best food? I don’t know, but Thunderbird doesn’t have the hipster and all-sorts clientele of SMK, but then it is in the heart of the CBD. On the Saturday I visited, it became about a third full by 10am with families and others who looked like they might be staying in a hotel nearby.
I was pleased to find there was a newspaper to read, but I think there was only one because another patron came over to ask for half. Filter coffee was on the menu but I was disappointed to discover the machine they use to make it here wasn’t working. I think, from memory, the Americano I had was OK.
I popped in mid-week at lunchtime to see how things were going. It was pretty busy at about a third full, though not with suits, as you might expect from its location, but more everyday people. There were definitely two newspapers this time.
Fairly boring muesli whose only distinguishing feature is the strongly spiced oats. As for the environment, good on the owners for making a colourful incursion into the more sober eating places of Wellington’s business district. But I think the high ceiling makes the space less comfortable and relaxing than Sweet Mother’s Kitchen.
Reviewed May 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.