Archive for the ‘Cafes’ Category

It has been a wee while since I have food blogged. Got kinda buried writing about non food stuff in other areas and then felt all worded-out.

I have a wee set of backed up photos and recipes including how to make gnocchi from scratch which was a bit of a revelation.

Anyways, in April I blogged about a rather spectacularly bad experience at the Mojo cafe at Wellington Zoo. Despite the vow never to darken the doorstep again I have gone back several times to meet friends with kids who find the convenience outweighs the inconsistency. I have generally restricted myself to coffees and steered clear of food from the menu. The counter food is prepared off-site and is fairly consistent with 0ther Mojos.

The service has remained inconsistent and unsophisticated – if cheerful.

So last Friday I met my friend Chris there and Had a Crisis. What I found interesting was not so much what happened but how they handled it.

It was a sunny day and we chose an outside table. I walked towards Chris, and promptly skidded on the tiles via a spilled drink that hadn’t been wiped up. This wouldn’t have been so bad but I was stepping forward at the time and my ankle buckled as I slipped. And carried my full weight forward for a metre while buckled, as I virtually did the splits and ended up on the ground.

It was one of those: holy crap I must have broken something moments.

It happened so fast I was left prone on the ground trying to work out how I could be so clumsy. Chris was most impressed that I dropped neither my glass nor the drink. Probably shows my priorities.

In too much pain to move I chose to stay where I was to see if it would settle down. He went inside to grab some ice. And came out looking totally floored. There was no ice apparently. In a cafe. WTF. He was followed by a somewhat surly wait person who silently handed over a banana popsicle (one!) to pack on the ankle, and went back inside. Leaving me on the ground, white-lipped with pain.

So, in the US I would have been tenderly scraped off the ground and the entire supply of all flavours of popsicles sacrificed to my ankle in the interests of avoiding a lawsuit. A spilled drink. Not cleared up…. On the cafe’s premises…

I sat on the ground for over 20 minutes until the pain subsided enough that I felt I could try and move. Other customers who saw the accident came out and offered advice and assistance. And commented on the expression on the wait person’s face when Chris asked for ice. I would liken it to asking a Lufthansa flight attendant for a second packet of peanuts.

So… maybe I am being unreasonable here. But THIS WAS THE ZOO CAFE! At the Zoo! With an information desk. And a reception. And I am assuming first aid centre. At the very least I am sure they keep ice packs for the giraffes. I would have taken a vet.

Surely Mojo trains its staff on basic first aid. Or even etiquette. “Customer brakes ankle on our premises, offer band-aid.”


(Went to hospital the next day as it was too bunged to walk on at all. It is a massively bad sprain. Left with crutches and two panadol).


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I didn’t think it was possible but last Saturday before I left for the UK  Sue and I experienced bad Mojo.

The cafe at the Wellington Zoo has had a chequered career with a baseline of the expectedly-disappointing fare commonly served at public attractions where customers are as nearly as limited for choice as the inhabitants. Elderly sausage rolls, stale sandwiches, beige coffee.

Some years ago, in an inspired move, the powers that be leased the space to Eva Dixons for a period. For the first time the zoo cafe became a place for locals to hang out as well as an attraction for visitors. It did well. The the contract expired and the zoo (or council?) awarded the contract to Spotless Catering with the aim of securing higher margins. Spotless handles catering for workplace cafetarias. And the stadium. Say no more. The locals stopped coming.

Imagine the excitement when the contract was up for renewal. Again. And this time it was awarded to a Mojo franchise. At this point I don’t know where to start. All I can say is that Mr Mojo should check out the clauses in the franchise agreement relating to quality and consistency of experience. It was the worst cafe meal I have had in Wellington for years. In an astonishing feat they managed to couple abysmally bad food with gobsmackingly bad service.

We should have taken its near emptiness at 10:30am on a Saturday morning as a Bad Sign.

I don’t know where to start so here is a list:

  • The food: We both ordered scrambled eggs and bacon (with toast on the side). As a nice touch we were offered the choice of five grain sourdough toast or toasted bagel with it. Sue chose the bagel, I had the five grain. The eggs and toast were delivered to us minus the bacon. Sue’s appeared with what appeared to be white toast. She enquired about her bagel and got a blank look. “We don’t serve bagel here.” Meanwhile I had been given what appeared to be half a loaf of five grain bread in enormous lukewarmed slabs. Peeking out from behind this was a modest tablespoon of fairly revolting, unsalted scrambled eggs. Overcooked to dry curdles leaching a bed of liquid. Sue commented it was just like hospital food.  We asked for the bacon we had ordered and already paid for. “Of course”. No sign. Repeatedly asked everyone who came past. No sign. Eventually, well after we had finished our eggs, we each received a plate with three slightly moist strips of bacon.
  • The drinks: Sue ordered a long black. When it was eventually delivered she asked for some hot water as it was so strong. “Of course”, came the cheerful response. No sign of it. We then flagged no less than three other perky yet unefficient wait staff who without exception all said. “Of course”. And failed to bring it. Eventually I got up and went direct to the barista who was standing with several giggling colleagues and appeared to be groping the original person we asked. Or maybe it is just a friendly environment. They looked surprised but in due course delivered the water.
  • The drinks – addendum – Sue ordered a fruit smoothie, I ordered an orange juice. I was given a plastic bottle of processed juice without being offered a glass. Sue’s smoothie was eventually delivered and she described it as mixed fruit juice on ice. Certainly not a smoothie.
  • The service – I think we have covered this and I can feel myself steaming again just thinking about it. There was a very efficient young English woman there. She wiped tables. Delivered water without asking. And was the person who eventually (and on her first go) got us the missing parts of our meal. She should find a job somewhere else before she decends into depressed mediocrity. I can suggest the Mojo in the Meridien Energy building on Queens Wharf. Now that is a cafe that can teach a thing or two about service and efficiency.

I won’t be going back to Mojo at the Zoo and very strongly recommend no-one else bothers either. If you are trapped there with small children viewing wild animals. Bring them snacks in snaplock containers and head into Newtown after for brunch or coffee at Pranah.

A final note. Ambience and location. There were cute animals viewable through floor to ceiling glass from the cafe. I don’t think Mojo can take credit for that though.

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