The Cupping Room, Civic

12 Jan

The new breakfast (and lunch!) venue everyone’s been tweeting, Facebooking and talking about the last few weeks has been The Cupping Room in Civic. Figuring we had a chance of securing a table in the second week of January in Canberra, we arrive just past 10am to try it out.

As we approach, I’m convinced there’s no way we’re going to get a table. It might feel like everyone from Canberra isn’t in Canberra, everyone who is here seems to be at The Cupping Room. Inside seats about 50 people, but there’s a substantial area outside in the leafy green Arthur and Heather Shakespeare Square (Mr Shakespeare was the first editor of the Canberra Times). It’ll be interesting to see what The Cupping Room does with the space once the weather turns!

The Cupping Room - packed indoors and out at 10am on a Saturday morning in early January

The Cupping Room – packed indoors and out at 10am on a Saturday morning in early January

A table for two has just become free. Others who are seeking slightly larger tables are asked to wait five minutes, and the staff are true to their word: they’re seated five minutes later. Otherwise, it’s just as packed as it seems – no table is free for more than a few moments.


We take our seats along the wall facing London Circuit. In the busyness, we’ve been seated without water, or cutlery, or menus. We wait, and I start to get flashbacks from our experience at A Baker. After a five minute wait, one of the staff notices and the situation is resolved; as our menus are placed in front of us we’re asked what drinks we might like. Service flows smoothly from here on.

Breakfast menu items are about $15-17

Breakfast menu items are about $10-17

Other page of the breakfast menu

Other page of the breakfast menu

The menu items are cutely named, and a lot is tempting. Before our coffees arrive, we order: salmon tartare for me, and dragon’s eggs (avocado and poached eggs) for Boyfriend.

Organic skinny flat white (malt-flavoured)

Organic skinny flat white (malt-flavoured)

The coffees are excellent, but we finish them just before our food arrives. I always think the sign of a strategic restaurant is asking customers who’ve finished their first drink if they want another, and brandishing the menu. This doesn’t happen here, but it’s hardly a complaint.

Dragon's eggs

Dragon’s eggs

The dragon’s eggs are mashed avocado with a significant helping of red onion, lime and other spices, placed back in to the avocado shells. They lie on a bed of wilted spinach, and poached eggs are placed on stop. They’re served with very tasty and well-toasted sourdough. Boyfriend’s only complaint is there isn’t enough sourdough for all the filling available.

Plenty of filling; another slice of sourdough would assist in mopping it all up

Plenty of filling; another slice of sourdough would assist in mopping it all up

Another prominent Canberran also dines on dragon’s eggs this morning:

My salmon tartare is mixed with capers, tarragon, chives and chardonnay vinegar, with a rustic looking poached egg dropped on top. It’s met with half a lime, a citrus/dill creme fraiche, and the same sourdough that comes with the dragon’s eggs.

Salmon tartare with sourdough, lime, creme fraiche and a poached egg

Salmon tartare with sourdough, lime, creme fraiche and a poached egg

The sourdough is delicious. The knives aren’t serrated; I think I’ve given up on my 2013 campaign about the need for proper knives, and am going to go all out and – wait for it – use my hands. Spooning the combo of the egg yolk, tartare, lime and creme fraiche onto a bite of sourdough really is the way to eat this dish. My only complaint is that the flavours of the creme fraiche and lime with the texture of the poached egg white clash a little, but only a small tweak is required. The dish is still lovely, and I feel very healthy eating it.

Poached egg is cooked perfectly

Poached egg is cooked perfectly

The mood and look within the cafe is bright and fresh, and the food and coffees match this. I can see what the fuss is about!

Date: Saturday, 11 January 2014

Where: London Circuit/University Avenue in Civic, across the road from UniPub

Cost: $41 for two ($4 coffee, $5 chai, $15 dragon’s eggs and $17 salmon tartare)

Food creativity: 7 out of 10; it’s an out there menu, but it works – a strong contrast to what Altitude Cafe tries to but doesn’t achieve.

Waitstaff pretentiousness: There’s a real risk here, but it’s not realised. Low.

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? My lovely friend Rachi has tasted a lot of the menu at The Cupping Room, and has a great summary of the cafe’s concept and design (together with gorgeous pics!)
The Cupping Room on Urbanspoon


7 Responses to “The Cupping Room, Civic”

  1. Rachi January 12, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Both these dishes look great! I really like their breakfast menu; there’s everything from the healthy to good hangover food and prices are some of the best I’ve seen in Canberra. Must give the lunch menu a go soon. Giulia said the calamari salad is a winner!
    p.s. Have linked back to yours in my post 🙂

  2. Noni Doll (@NoniDoll) January 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Dragon eggs, huh? I feel like there’s potential for a Game of Thrones prank or gathering right there…

  3. LadyxBec January 13, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Those dragons eggs look & sound delicious! I’ll have to try the place out

  4. megan January 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    I am absolutely loving The Cupping Room and work right around the corner which is dangerous when the salted caramel pop corn milkshake is soooo good! I had the same issue with the lack of bread but asked for more and wasn’t charged so I was happy about that. Glad you enjoyed it!!


  1. #HumanBrochure – A Day of Food and Wine | In The Taratory - June 7, 2014

    […] 7.40am is an early start, and while there were many familiar if not very friendly faces, it did feel a little like arriving for a school excursion. We had an inkling about the first location, and we were right: The Cupping Room! […]

  2. The Cupping Review Restaurant Review - November 3, 2014

    […] […]

What do you reckon?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: