Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fresh and refreshing high tea at Soffee Café

Click to add a blog post for Soffee Cafe on Zomato Soffee Café has a lot going for it that makes it such an ace place:
  • Location: Being away from heavy pedestrian traffic is actually a plus here. It's not so far from Granville and Broadway to be in an obscure location (not like BETA5, for instance). But it's on a quiet street that helps with the have-a-quiet-afternoon-tea ambiance, which is harder to do if you are, say, Neverland, right on busy West Broadway. The chances of, for example, nosy pedestrians staring at your food are about zilch. Plus they can have small tables on the sidewalk for outdoor dining.
  • Décor: Clean space that is gorgeously appointed. Even on your way to the romantically lit washroom (yeah -- go into the washroom and you'll know what I mean) there are beautiful paintings to give it an almost home-like feel. Plus comfy couches for slightly larger parties. Also a really nice touch with the golden plates.
  • Seating: Not that much seating, so you can't get the crowded feeling that you might get at some already popular afternoon tea places struggling to keep up with demand.
  • Food: Ace of course. And literally "mom's cooking" -- front of house Andy's mother is slaving in the back producing the fresh food.
They have cleverly distinguished themselves from other afternoon tea places in various subtle ways, not just in the composition of their afternoon tea sets. Gluten-free demi-tea set available.

VERY keen on not wasting food so if you ask them to prepare a certain number of tea sets, you will be nudged to honour that order. If in doubt, quote conservatively and allow your party more dining time: They can whip up another set if you give them approximately a half hour.

Ham & Cheese French Toast ($11.75) rosemary ham & swiss served with organic greens
  • As soon as I saw this on the menu, I knew I had to have it because, "how can French toast possibly cost $11.75). Turns out, this is actually an OK deal.
  • You get a fairly large ham-and-cheese sandwich, with a goodly amount of cheese. No skimping here.
  • Decently sized salad!
  • Look carefully for "Soffee" scribbled on your plate in sweet sauce.
  • This is a lightly filling meal for $11.75, making the price not bad if you consider net portion alone.
Afternoon Tea / High Tea ($39 full set)
  • No macaron! They are doing their own thing here rather than following the crowd.
  • Starts with fresh seafood and refreshing citrus!
    • Shrimp ceviche.
    • Scallop with refreshing citrus slices (lemon and orange)
    • Slab of lobster (volume about 1 Bic cigarette lighter) served similarly as the scallop
  • The rest of the tea set is all small bites -- even the scone, which is smaller than a ping pong ball.
  • Weakest item was probably a small yellow muffin -- dry and boring.
  • Nice items include a not-too-tart lemon tart, small chocolate tart, and mini crème brûlée.
  • Overall there was a strong sense of the items being freshly prepared and very well made.
They have been open for only just 5 months, so go now before price creeps up when demand increases. (The ham and cheese toast used to be $10.75 about a month ago and is now already $1 more.)

The small dining room means there is just the one server running both the take-out counter and the dining room. Service is attentive but larger parties (4+) should expect that preparing everyone's tea and plating everyone orders can take longer with just one person plus one chef in the back.

Ambiance + food + fair value + service = top marks.

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