IT’S England in the late 1770s and the Duchess of Bedford is famished and fatigued. Too impatient to wait for dinner, she invites high-society friends to join her for a cuppa and assorted breads and small, sweet cakes. “How too terribly lovely,” the ladies thought. And so “high tea” was born.
High tea still has its place in society. In Canberra, many think Hyatt Hotel, but now we can enjoy the occasion in a more relaxed, quaint venue.
At Café Societea, Griffith shops, you’ll find a delicious selection of house-made ribbon sandwiches, fresh scones, mini patisserie cakes, tiny quiches and petite-four truffles served with as much coffee and tea as you like.
Café Societea is a small, family business, run by Phil and Jeanette Kim and supported, part-time, by son Aaron, whose idea it was to buy a cafe. You may recognise Phil and Jeanette’s smiling faces from the 10 years they owned a florist shop in Kingston, and many will be pleased that a selection of flowers are on sale at the café.
High tea is $40 a person and you get your own three-tiered stand (half sweet, half savoury), with what you can’t squeeze in neatly packaged to enjoy at home. Booking in advance is a must given the prep time required.
All food at Café Societea is “feel good” because it’s house made. The café’s mix of furniture includes a large, stunning antique wooden table. Pressed white tablecloths and pretty flowers in pretty vases add a special touch, as do the glam black-and-white photos of Audrey Hepburn and others who were expert at enjoying high tea. You can also – when the weather allows – eat on the outside deck and enjoy lots of sun in warmer weather.
Café Societea is open for breakfast and lunch, which includes fresh sandwiches, soups, salads and a few heartier dishes such as risotto ($15) and an organic, premium-meat pasta bolognese ($15 for a main). For the littlies, there’s a ham and cheese toastie with a babycino for $6.
A friend and I recently visited for breakfast. The French toast with fresh strawberries, bananas, pure Canadian maple syrup and cream was great value for $10. My friend loved her creamy scrambled eggs with pumpkin gluten-free bread – also great value at $8.50.
Café Societea offers loads of gluten-free food, including specialty breads with quality jams, marmalades and organic fruit. It’s a great spot to grab a quick coffee and a Florentine ($1.50) or a cupcake with icing ($3.50). The Griffith shops, despite its large number of eateries, doesn’t offer many places to have a coffee in the mornings.
Café Societea, Barker Street, Griffith Shops. Call 6239 5477.