28 Cornwall St, Lower Hutt
Opens 7.30am weekdays, 8.30am Sat; closes 3.30pm weekdays, 2.30pm Sat
Granola (= muesli) $15; Peoples Coffee, Winston’s tea
Twenty Eight opened around February 2022. That’s probably not a good time to open an eatery in New Zealand, with Omicron about to wash through the country. Maybe the planning was in train before Omicron had made an appearance and the country seemed to have beaten Covid-19? Good luck to them, and do give them some support, especially since there are so few good eateries in the Valley north of Petone.
Twenty Eight is named after it’s address – number 28 Cornwall St, which is about 2 and a half blocks north of north of Queensgate Shopping Centre on a street that runs from Knights Rd to Pretoria St in that confusing area of street layouts. Its an area of mostly newish office buildings, and the eatery has taken a bold step to stand out by constructing two wonky playhouses at front.
They call their oat dish granola, but I’m claiming it a muesli. It consists of whole oat flakes, almonds, sunflower, chia and sesame seeds, toasted coconut flakes and dried cranberries and dates. Quite a lot of chopped dates in fact. I think it may have been dry roasted – that is, not combined with a sweet binder. So nothing crunchy and clumping like a granola.
On top there are plain poached peach slices, chopped banana and coconut yoghurt. You get a choice of milk, from cow to soy or coconut, and possibly others. Everything comes in a heavy pottery bowl and is accompanied by a very heavy stainless steel ACME spoon. The cup is a new model from ACME as well, and its straight sided conical design is a welcome relief from the standard rounded variety that are so ubiquitous in our cafés.
The cheese scones looked really good, so I took one home to try it. While I can’t comment on how it is served at Twenty Eight (whether reheated in the oven, microwave or sandwich press, and with butter or margarine) as a scone it holds its own amongst the best.
The fit-out is very Scandi – light-coloured wooden tables and chairs, minimal bench seats and sparse, but precisely considered décor items like plants and artworks. And it is big, with all manner of seating options: from stools along a window bench, to padded seats, regular tables and chairs, and outside seating.
The polished concrete floor, large glass windows and concrete walls make the café pretty noisy on a busy day. But during my visit not long after the launch of Twenty Eight, at about 8:30am on a Saturday morning when rising Covid-19 numbers were dampening eating out, there were few people present.
One bit (above) in an alcove near the toilets is somewhat different from the rest, with a wooden floor and black table. It feels so spare and perfect that it looks like a design statement rather than a place people might actually sit and mess up with their food.
The playhouse (it’s just one playhouse from the inside) cleverly extends into the interior so kids can hang out there by themselves. There’s not an awful lot for them to do in one though – just a few desultory toys on the floor. Maybe it could have some chairs and a bookcase? And some bean bags or cushions. Things that would make kids want to spend time in there.
There was a selection of magazines to read and a newspaper two days old. I asked about today’s paper and got what seems to be an increasingly common answer in cafés these days – it hasn’t arrived yet. Still hadn’t arrived at 9am. I’m glad I’m not a newspaper subscriber, with service like that. However, I have to say that the staff service itself was very good and extra friendly.
I think this is a stylish muesli that’s up there with the better ones. Personally, I could do with fewer dates to lower the sugar load, but that might make it a bit plain. The nice interior is a pleasure in its own right. A few more people would help activate it, but maybe that happens during the week with all the offices nearby.
Reviewed February 2022
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.