Reviewed by FiFi, November 2019
This is a cafe, Post Shop and General store all in one. The interior and furnishings are old, dated and smelt a bit musty, and the cafe section feels like an afterthought. There is only indoor seating here. The website boasts that this is a one of the best kept secrets of Lower Hutt and Wellington. Personally I thought it was an exaggeration or perhaps a bit of a pipe dream. There was ample seating inside and a few tables outside. There was quite a lot of cabinet food to choose from including a kids menu, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and a large blackboard menu. There are five Bene options to chose from. The Benedict (with ham or bacon); the Montreal (with salmon); the Florentine (with wilted spinach), the Hash Brown Stack (with bacon, tomatoes and spinach) or the Salmon Stack (with salmon, tomatoes and spinach) . Sides range from $.60 to $5 (or $14 for a steak). I felt that this place lacked any kind of atmosphere and it felt kind of odd sitting amongst the Post Shop.
The staff were not very friendly. Perhaps they had had a rough day but I thought there was no excuse for their behaviour. The blackboard menu finished at 2.30pm and we got there at 1.57pm so I felt there was still plenty of time to order. The girl who served me stated ‘the kitchen closes at 2.30.’ I responded and said that is over t 30 minutes away so can I order off the blackboard menu or not. The answer was ‘I suppose’. The chef who served our meals let me know that the sauce separated and if I had a problem with that to let him know if I had a problem with it rather than make a fuss. From there we ate our meals (I left about half of mine) and left. So, I certainly would not recommend this place if you are after friendly customer service.
There was an obvious attempt of plating the food to showcase the ingredients in an appealing manner. The earthen pottery plate was a great foundation to build the meal upon. The sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley demonstrated that food preparation was top of mind. What let this dish down was the separated sauce (literally and also not drizzled over the eggs). The swirling of the hollandaise was a bit over the top and perhaps they were compensating for it not being home made. Overall, it looked just okay.
- The Salmon Hash Stack – the meal was just disappointing.
- The Eggs – were very overdone and were not runny in texture.
- The Salmon – there was a generous portion of smoky, salty delightfulness.
- The tomato – the lightly seasoned, fried tomato was lovely.
- The Hash browns – were crispy and crunchy.
- The Spinach – the raw spinach added a subtle flavour and pairs well with salmon.
- The Hollandaise – was simply awful. The sauce had separated in the cooking process hence why the chef didn’t pour it over the eggs (which is part of the signature of a bene). It tasted like a weird, overdone, burnt butter concoction.
Would We Go Again?
No, the food was pretty bland, overpriced and the interior is in desperate need of a really good clean and updating.
Style: 4/10 – Classic.
Taste: 3/10 – the meal was okay but nothing special.
Originality: 4/10 – The hash stacks were nice options but basically they just substituted the muffins for hash browns.
Value: 4/10 – the Benes were on the higher side. The Benedict (with ham or bacon) was $18.50; the Florentine (with spinach) was $18.50; the Hash Brown Stack (with bacon, tomatoes and spinach) was $19.00; the Montreal was $19.50; or the Salmon Stack (salmon, tomatoes and spinach) was $19.50. Sides range from $.60 to $5 (or $14 for a steak).
Overall score: 2/10
141 Dowse Drive, Manugaraki, Lower Hutt