The Cupping Room in Civic is probably one of Canberra’s most popular cafes. Whenever I drive past, tables are always full and sometimes there’s even a line out the door. I had family in town last weekend and decided to take them here for breakfast.
We arrived quite early, about 7.50am. I thought the cafe had opened at 7.30am and given the doors were wide open we started to approach. We were met by an employee who told us the cafe doesn’t open for another 10 minutes and proceeded to close the double doors in our faces. Unnecessary, I thought. We weren’t going to storm the place, there was no need for protective measures against four breakfast-goers. No dramas though, we decided we’d go for a stroll around the block to pass time. As we looped back around it was about 7.58am (literally two minutes to opening time) when we saw two ladies approach the cafe, open the door and walk in. About 15 seconds later they were escorted out and the doors were LOCKED behind them. Locked! Really?! The cafe opens in 2 minutes. I used to work in retail so I know how annoying it is when people would want to come in early, or come in late, but seriously, two minutes to opening is a ridiculous amount of time to be kicking people out and locking the door to only have to unlock it pretty well straight away.
Anyway, we tried to see the funny side in it and we all had a giggle amongst ourselves. The doors opened again and I was so excited because I know what an awesome breakfast The Cupping Room does. We were first through the door and selected a corner table because it was a chilly morning and this table had amazing sunlight. It was two single tables very close to each other so we pulled them 20cm closer and started pondering the menus. The same employee who had closed the doors in our faces came over and told us we had to move because the tables were for two groups of two and not one group of four. We were extremely puzzled by this request because well, we were there first and the restaurant wasn’t even half full yet. We said we would prefer to stay seated where we were and copped a bit of attitude from the employee. We ended up being able to stay there but it really did make us feel extremely unwelcome and had my guests not had a flight to catch, I would have hauled us out of there and gone to another cafe. I thought maybe we were the ones being unreasonable but we even had two separate groups of diners lean over to us and say they thought his behaviour was completely unacceptable.
Pushing on for breakfast though, my partner and I ordered the smashed avo which came with goats cheese, poached eggs, and pomegranate, one guest ordered the huevos bollo which was kind of like a fancy bacon and egg roll, and my second guest ordered the French toast with citrus textures, chocolate sauce and whipped marscapone. The meals came out quickly and beautifully presented. I was immediately overcome with food envy looking at the french toast – it looked amazing! Such a pretty dish, almost too good to eat.
I wasn’t a fan of the pomegranate on my dish. I think it was just too sweet for me paired with the savoury eggs and salty goats cheese. My partner liked it though – he hoovered down his meal in what seemed like about 30 seconds. There was a really generous serving of avo which is always nice, some cafes are a bit stingy given how expensive avocados are but my serving was so big I thought they must have an avocado tree out the back! My first guest really enjoyed the huevos bollo – it was packed with ingredients and the eggs had the perfect runniness. The French toast was a dream too. I was lucky enough to sample a tiny bit of it and it tasted like cinnamon donuts which might seem like an unusual choice for breakfast but hey, a treat is good every now and again right?
As we left, two of the people in my group said to the employee that we honestly weren’t happy with the entire experience. He apologised but it was more of a ‘sorry you got upset’ rather than ‘sorry I acted inappropriately’. Kind of a ‘sorry not sorry’ moment I suppose.
Our meals were great, they really were. Service was prompt and the food was fantastic. However, the customer service and the way we and the other set of diners were treated was atrocious. I understand that working in the hospitality and service industries can be stressful, however it’s unnecessary to behave the way that employee behaved. As amazing as the food is, I’m not going back. I don’t want to be treated like that again.