Wellington’s Best Breakfast Granola Bowls

Whenever people ask me what my favourite meal of the day is – they’re always a little taken aback when I confidently reply breakfast. Sure, dinner is great, but how good is a greasy bacon Eggs Benedict, or a sky-high stack of buttermilk pancakes – or the big English breakfast featuring all of your fried friends. All these options are terrific – especially to a breakfast lover like me – but there is one dish that, in my opinion, ranks above them all – and that is the humble granola.

Why you ask? Well, the beauty of granola, is it can be anything it wants to be. It can be chocolate-y, it can be nutty, it can be fruity, and it can be served with other tasty ingredients like yoghurt, milk, honey, stewed fruit – the list is endless. So, now you know why it’s such a crowd-pleaser, I’m here to shine some light on the cafes in Wellington that are acing this simple but delicious dish.

1. Comes and Goes.

If you’ve had the granola from here before, I’m hoping you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement when I say that the granola from Comes and Goes has to come number 1. Not only did this beautiful breakfast bowl have the most gorgeous nutty granola I’ve ever tasted – it was topped with a vanilla panna cotta that Mary Berry would’ve been proud of. Along with the tangy berry compote, bittersweet cacao powder and colourful combination of fresh fruit – this granola bowl isn’t just the top of the list for granola, its hand-down got to be the best brunch I’ve tasted to date, ever.

2. Coenes

If you love sweets, chocolate and caramel – you’re going to love this daytime delight. I brunched at Coenes for the first time a few weeks ago, and of course to do a little more research for you guys for this write-up, I simply had to order their granola (although their eggs bene did look divine). Well. All thoughts of food envy & ordering-anxiety left my brain once that stunning plate of granola was place in front of me. Underneath the caramelized granola sat a layer of tart berry yoghurt, which offset the rich flavours of the extra cacao, caramel sauce, butterscotch sauce, and whipped coconut cream. This bowl was a mix between breakfast and an indulgent after-dinner dessert – and I was totally there for it. 

3. The Oatery

Going to a café to get your granola fix is good and all – but what if you want the goodness of granola outside? Well, that’s where the gals at The Oatery have your back – as their fresh, fruit and wholesome granola and porridge bowls come in at third on my list. I had my first Oatery Granola Bowl after a 10km run – and I tell you, it was exactly what I needed to refuel. Every bite of the lusciously fatty Fix & Fogg peanut butter, mixed with tart berry coulis, rich bananas, and nutty granola was to die for – and even though this bowl was massive, I reached the bottom in no time because I couldn’t stop myself digging in for more.

4. Goldmine

Now this one here was a dark horse I never imagined would make my top 5 – but here it is, the granola bowl from Goldmine. I came to this place expecting a nice brunch, nothing out of the ordinary – but instead I was surprised with a bowl of granola that had everything I loved going for it. Crunchy, candied, nutty granola pieces? Check. Soft and sweet poached fruit? Check. Two dairy options (or non-dairy in my case) to make the granola as soft or crunchy you want? Check. Even though this bowl didn’t push the flavour boundaries like the previous two, it executed every single element that a granola bowl should consist of perfectly – which is why it has come number 3 on my list.

5. Beach Babylon

Last – but definitely not least – is the granola bowls from our Oriental bay-side friends, Beach Babylon. Their granola is in fact so good, that they released their recipe to the public after an overload of requests. Of course, no matter how hard we try – our homemade version will never be as good as their beautiful bowl of nutty, oaty, buckwheat bliss. And did I mention it’s all vegan? Oh yeah. They go the extra mile here – serving it up with some good old coconut yoghurt, berry puree & fresh seasonal fruit (with a dash of your favourite milk substitute on the side) – which means everybody can go ahead and enjoy what they’ve got to offer!

Temperance Society: A Truly Tempting Brunch

My trip to Melbourne was a blur of trains, walking, and sightseeing – but what I can definitely remember as being my highlight was the food and drink. They say Melbourne is a melting pot of people, and this means that Melbourne is also a melting pot of cuisines all just waiting for you to taste. That being said, the people of Melbourne don’t shy away from making a homage to classic western/Australian food – oh no. With its huge café culture, you can find a fabulous western brunch or lunch anywhere – pancakes, waffles, egg benedict – you name it and they’ll have it. I say you can go anywhere, but the one place I had my eye on months before I jumped the ditch was a little hidden gem that is now city-famous in the heart of Hughesdale – Temperance Society.

So imagine this – you’ve woken up at 4am, gone to the airport, taken a 4 hour flight, waited an hour for the bus, rode on the bus for 40 minutes to your Airbnb – and realize t’s been 8 hours since that half a scone in the departure lounge. You’d be hungry right? Correct. So, where better than to satiate our hunger than at one of the best brunch spots in town, Temperance Society. It’s located out in Hughesdale, which is about a 20 minute train ride from the city central, but believe me, once we got there, sipped on the much-needed coffee and took the first bite out of our lunch, any travel time and distance was worth it.

After our uber has woven its way through the maze of houses in Hughesdale, it finally found it way outside the modern-looking daytime establishment. Once inside, we were warmly greeted by the staff who lead us to a sunlit table in their small open courtyard, drinks were offered and we answered with an ice cold coffee and milkshake – the weather was pristine and hotter than any day Wellington had seen! Me being me, I was months deep into stalking this place and their beautiful brunches, so I already knew what I was going to order – one of their famous and very insta-worthy brunch panna cottas. My partner ordered their veggie burgers with polenta chips, and then all we had to do was wait with rumbling tummies for the food to come. 

Soon our prayers were answered, and before me sat a tower of panna cotta perfection – a crumb of nutty granola with pops of freeze-dried fruits and flowers surrounded a mound of perfectly-wobbly chocolate panna cotta, topped with a tempered white chocolate sphere filled with fresh fruits and caramelized banana. It’s a lot to describe but believe me when you get a mouthful of all these elements together, you’re sent to sweet-brunch heaven. It was exactly what I needed to get my blood sugars pumping, but not too much sweet that it turned sickly. The nutty granola and tart fruit combatted the creamy richness of the panna cotta to create a balanced dish that even chocolate-haters would go in for a second spoonful of. The burger was also deliciously fresh and filled with a thick patty made from the best hearty veg – and was definitely what my partner needed to fill that hungry tummy of his!  But that being said, those polenta chips were the star of the show – super crispy and brown on the outside, and soft and almost creamy on the inside – they were a taste and texture masterpiece!

This place was everything it promised to be and more. Months of stalking on Instagram had me in anticipation of what Temperance Society was going to bring to the plate, but I am more than happy to say that they went above and beyond my expectations. Whether it’s a first date, girls’ brunch, business meeting, or even a tradie lunch – its’s a place where everybody is welcome to come and enjoy fabulous food and copious amounts of coffee. This deserves a well-appointed 9/10 on the Café Crawler Scale – everything was near perfect; except I wish it was closer to the city so more people can come and enjoy what will always promise to be an outstanding brunch experience.

Check out their moreish menu here!

Botanical-Based Bliss at The Botanist

Okay, so, I’ve been a vegetarian/pescatarian for about a year now, and I can confidently say that I’ve tasted about 80% of Wellington’s best vegan and vegetarian spots and written a decent review on. HOWEVER. There is one place, which I consider to be Wellington’s most-famous vault of vegan food, that I haven’t actually done a write up on. This is the establishment where plant-based food is literally their namesake and BOY do they live up to that! Who, you ask? If you’re a Wellingtonian, you’ve probably already guessed it – but for you outsiders: it’s the bold, it’s the beautiful – it’s The Botanist.

I know. I’m a disgrace of a vegetarian! I’ve been here 4 times, yet I’ve never once done a full blog post about just how bloomin’ incredible their veggie-focused food really is. Well, todays the day. So, keep a-readin’ for a whole lotta vegan!

So, I’ve come here for dinner a few times, and of course for their show-stopping Brisk-Taker Burger (which I think should’ve won WOAP), but yesterday I finally took a bite out of their brunch menu – and let’s just say, I’m still shook. As I said earlier, The Botanist is famous for their plant-based takes on brunch, lunch and dinner dishes – so it’s usually heaving with hungry diners. Luckily, we got there before the morning rush, and even had our choice of 5-person tables (which on a Sunday, is definitely unheard of)! After sitting down in one of their plush velvet booths, our caffeine addiction and hunger pangs were all instantly taken care of by one of their eclectic and accommodating staff members. I opted for my go-to spring/summer drink (an iced coffee or cold brew (no cream) with an added shot of vanilla), and for my meal? Well, after obsessively following these plant-based guru’s for at least a year – I already knew their apple and caramel crème buckwheat pancakes was the meal for me.

The coffee, as always, tasted absolutely fabulous – if you haven’t ever tried the cold coffee and vanilla combo: it’s the perfect balance of refreshing, sweet, bitter, and it also gives you that caffeine kick that every Wellingtonian has a thirst for. Shortly after taking a sip on my drink were my pile of pancakes placed in front of me. I’m a tall girl, so I’m used to towering over everything – but heck, this mighty stack of pancakes was enough to make even the likes of my 6” stature feel small! Am I complaining? Absolutely not. Aside from the sheer size of the meal, the plate was absolutely beautiful. Playing off an amber and yellow aesthetic, there were slithers of fresh bananas, slices of saffron infused apple and pear, scoops of salted caramel cream cheese, and a sprinkle of pecan and walnuts. If you think that sounds good, just wait until you actually take a bite.

Holy smokes.

This was the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, savoury, nutty, and salty flavours – with enough of each component to have balanced bites of every ingredient throughout the whole eating experience. I was already knocked out by the sheer sensational tastes of this dish, but the thing that shook me to the core was the fact that this dish is ALL vegan and gluten free. All I can say is if every café made vegan food taste this bloody delicious, then convincing the human race to migrate from meat is going to be as easy as pudding – or should I say pancakes!

Phewie! – for somebody so speechless at the quality of food that I had at The Botanist; I sure have a lot to say. If you’re reading this and you’ve also dined at The Botanist, I’m sure you can nod your head in agreement when I say this is hands-down the best vegan food in Wellington, and possibly even the best café/restaurant I’ve ever been to. Every single dish I’ve had here has been tip-top tasting, served by the most wonderful people AND in a beautiful beach front location – what’s NOT to love?? I don’t think I can give this place any less than a 10/10 on the CCL scale. They’ve absolutely nailed every aspect that makes a bloody-good café/restaurant, and even with serving plant-based only cuisine, they’re still running circles around about 80% of other cafes in the Wellington region.  

Comes & Goes: Come and GET it!

It’s been a while since I’ve gone out for a decent brunch that was worthy of a full review, but luckily the opportunity to go to a brunch place I’ve been told has bangin’ grub revealed itself. 2 weeks ago, the morning after a 2am Danger-Danger Graduation night, my partner and I woke up groggy and in need of a cold brew and a feed FAST. So, we hopped in the car and drove out to one of Wellington’s absolute tip-top fave food spots. Don’t know where I’m talking about yet? Comes & Goes of course (I mean the title does say, but for those who don’t know, there you go!). I finally got to see what every foodie lover and local has been talking about, and holy mama do I have some praise to shower.

So, we got there after about 10 minutes of driving up and down Petone’s high street trying to find the damn place – I knew it was somewhere, but their lack of signage really got the best of my sense of direction. Anyways, after finally finding it, we sat down and got ready to eat! Except, once we looked at the menu, we really didn’t know what to eat. Drink – a cold brew of course: caffeine for the energy boost, and a little chill for some refreshment. But seriously, we had to send the poor waitress away like 4 times because we were so stuck on what to eat. If you’ve ever eaten there, you’ll know what I mean! After spying around at other people’s orders, I reached my decision. I felt kinda’ boring ordering their granola bowl and wondered whether I should’ve been a little more adventurous, but when I saw the beautiful bowl placed in front of me, my granola guilt vanished INSTANTLY.

I mean look at it (scroll to the bottom to find it). LOOK AT IT! I’ve never seen a more picturesque bowl of food. The Panna cotta (that had the perfect wobble, might I say), was bejewelled with a collection of all types of fresh, sour, tart, and sweet fruits, that sat atop a hefty mound of the best crunchy and nutty granola I’ve ever tried. It stayed that pretty for about 10 seconds before I mixed it all together and dove right in. All of the flavours in one spoonful were enough to bring a tear to my eye, and I knew at that moment I had found the best granola bowl in Wellington. As a cereal addict, this bowl was my cocaine – and I need another fix ASAP! My partner had their Bibimbap, which was a beautiful rainbow of fruits, vegetables, and tofu, all brought together with a sweet and spicy sriracha sauce and a perfectly poached egg. The Comes & Goes take on a traditional Korean Bibimbap is definitely something worth noting, and it made for an awesome and punchy lunch.

All I can say is wow. Petone, you have an ace up your sleeve with this little brunch-beauty. I can’t believe it took me this long to finally visit Comes & Goes, and now that I’ve tasted what they have to offer, it’s only a matter of time before I’m back for more. I have to award them a near perfect 9.5/10. Why not 10/10? Well, I’m a little stank that they’re so far out (PLEASE open a branch in CBD or Lyall bay), and also they NEED to have a bigger sign outside their café, otherwise more girls like me with trash senses of direction are going to drive or walk right past you! But apart from those niggly points, it really is a heck of a café to go to, whether lunch, brunch, coffee, or a sweet treat – the guys at Comes & Goes have you covered.

The Grape Escape!

Last week, the poor Tasman region got absolutely hammered by a cyclone that joined forces with a king tide to wreak havoc. It was a few days after the cyclone had hit, and my guests and I traipsed down to Mapua wharf to have a spot of lunch; where we were met with debris, power outages and cranes lifting destroyed boats from the waters. Nowhere was open due to the wreckage, so we sadly ambled back to our cars with our tummies rumbling. This was then when one of us had a brainwave and announced that we should, instead of going home hungry, hit up the popular café; Grape Escape. I had never been there, but had heard brilliant reviews, so we all agreed to regroup and refuel our appetites there. Continue reading The Grape Escape!

Olive This Place a Lot!

If you’ve been to Wellington, you know that Cuba Street is one of the best places to go if you are searching for somewhere to eat. This eclectic sand vibrant street is packed full of restaurants and cafes that cater for any diet, and fit any appetite. Along this street, tucked away in between a fruit market and alternative clothes shop is the beautiful café-come-restaurant, Olive. This restaurant is so special because it transitions so effortlessly between a relaxing daytime brunching spot to an elegant and refined, upscale restaurant. Continue reading Olive This Place a Lot!