I've been trying to get out and about in the suburbs more now that I've got a car in Wellington. High on the to-visit list was Pranah, one of my favourite unfrequently-visited cafes in colourful Newtown. It's a quirky little vegetarian joint with plenty of vegan and gluten free options - but don't let the lack of meat put you off, as there's enough variety and freshness on the menu that you'll probably forget about the bacon.
I don't normally go for the "big breakfast" options at cafes (mostly because they're expensive and too big for me to finish anyway), but the hoe down ($18) reeled me in with its adorable name and a slew of foods I couldn't resist the sound of: poached eggs, sourdough, spinach, hollandaise, roasted tomatoes, rosemary potatoes, chilli beans, chutney.
The potatoes were a bit dry, but I loved the mountain of fresh baby spinach piled on top, gradually wilting with the heat of the food underneath. The sourdough managed to stay wonderfully chewy even as it soaked up the egg yolks and hollandaise. With so many components all on one plate, most fun of all was coming up with different combinations - my favourite was tomatoes, potatoes, and chilli beans with a dab of chutney.
E's banana and almond pancakes ($12, vegan) came in a stack of three adorably lopsided pancakes, loaded with banana slices, plum, yoghurt and maple syrup and topped with a crunchy sprinkle of sliced almonds. These were a treat, though they did get a bit soggy towards the end (perhaps not in a bad way; the plum juices & maple syrup were delicious).
The sticky date & ginger slice ($3, vegan) was moist and chewy, laden with chopped dates and candied ginger, and served with yoghurt. It was zingy and sweet and not as sinfully rich as the words "sticky date" sometimes suggest. I'd go back for more.
Pranah's banana smoothie ($5), a lightly spiced concoction made with bananas and milk, tasted clean and simple, sweet and milky. Not too thick, with a frothy, bubbly surface, I might go so far as to call it delicate. A smoothie-as-beverage rather than smoothie-as-meal, and all the better for it.
One of my favourite things from Pranah (and probably the thing that keeps me going back) is their ginger hot milk ($3.30) (closely followed by their tumeric hot milk). Smooth, foamy steamed milk, sweet and spicy, with a gingery warming sensation that lingers in your mouth long after the heat of the drink is gone, it was slightly reminiscent of the hot, sweet, milky ginger teas I had in Singapore and Malaysia.
E's flat white ($3.80) was of a generally high standard, with an elegantly smooth layer of froth. Pranah uses Newtown's own Peoples Coffee beans, which are fair trade and organic.
This place is refreshing. Light and airy, popular but not chaotically busy (not anytime I've been, anyway), it's a perfect place for a coffee or bite to eat. And you won't even miss the bacon.
120 Riddiford St
(04) 389 8100
Open Mon-Sat 9-4:30 and Sun 10-4:30, kitchen closes at 2:30 (this is what it said on their door - their website says 9-5 daily).
View Gusty Gourmet in a larger map