Smith the Grocer – CBD, Wellington

1.5 of 5 stars

Reviewed by FiFi, December 2019

The Place:

There is lot of indoor seating.  There is a huge array of cabinet food to chose from, vegetarian, Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and a large blackboard menu.  There are four Bene options to chose from.  The Benedict (with streaky bacon); build a Florentine (with spinach) or the Montreal (with salmon) and the Smiths Vege Breakfast (with grilled halloumi, herbed roasted potato, sauteed spinach, roasted tomato).  There was also a hash stack option that included avocado, tomato and mushrooms.  Sides range from $2 to $6.  The atmosphere has an inner city, busy vibe to it.

The Service:

We had booked a table in advance as our party was over 10 of us.  The waitress was reluctant to take our coffee order and suggested we all line up at the counter.  After we suggested one of us would write all the orders down and go up to the counter she then decided to take our coffee orders.  Our drinks came out reasonably fast.  Then the whole ordering debacle started again.  After repeating our orders back to the waitress  several times we felt she actually understood our orders.  Two of our party turned up and ordered their brekkies about 5 minutes after everybody else’s.  One of their orders came out about 5 minutes later.  After a polite wait of about 10 minutes for others orders to arrive we suggested she tuck in.   A further 15-20 minutes all of our breakfasts turned up, except one person.  We beckoned the waitress over to find out where it was.  Everyone else ate their breakfasts.  I asked a further 4 times where the last breakfast was.  At least a dozen other patrons who had entered the cafe and ordered after us had received their meals ahead of our last person.  When I queried his order with the waitress she had in fact not written his order down and instead treated it like a new order, hence had put his order at the back of the line.   A further coffee later and long after everyone had finished their meals did his order come out.  Some of our party had already left and made their way back to work (this was a Christmas team breakfast). I argued with the cashier and flatly refused to pay for the late meal.  It took some convincing, and absolutely no apology later for them to accept that I was not paying for the breakfast.  By far the worst service out of the over 200 places we have reviewed.

The Presentation:

It was refreshing to see that not all the crockery was not the same.  There was an obvious attempt at beautifying the dishes.  The layering was done to showcase the various textures and colours of the ingredients.  The creamy lemony colour of the sauce made a stark contract to the bacon.  The  sprig of  greenery that garnished the top of the eggs completed the overall look.   Our meals looked appealing. 

  • The Benedict and Montreal – the meals were hot and tasty but on the small side.
  • The Eggs – the free-range eggs were perfectly poached, runny and warm.  
  • The Bacon – the streaky bacon was smoky, salty and delicious
  • The Salmon – the rich coral coloured fish was smoky and slightly oily, just how I like it.
  • The Hash browns – were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
  • The Hollandaise – the golden rich sauce was the highlight of the dish. It was creamy and buttery.  Its a shame there wasn’t slightly more though.
  • The bread – the sourdough was toasted and it had a slight crunch to it.

 Would We Go Again?

Nope, not if you paid me.


Style: 6/10 – Classic.

Taste: 6/10 – the meals tasted quite nice.

Originality: 6/10 – The Vege option was nice to see on the menu.

Value: 7/10 – the Benes were $19 each which is average for a Montreal (salmon), slightly dear for a Benedict (bacon), but quite steep for a Florentine (spinach).  The Vege Breakfast at $20 seemed quite reasonable.  Sides ranged from $2 to $6. 

Eggs: 7/10

Overall score: 3/10 – the terrible customer service influenced this low score.

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