As our time is mostly spent in the suburbs rather than in the city, keeping track of new openings in the city is hard. We hadn’t heard about ChanGe Cafe before we were invited to visit, but our interest was piqued when we heard about their coffee pictures (a shot of yourself with your shot?) and high tea.
It is located in the Myer Centre, in a nook of a shop space at one end of the food court. While not a large area, they have made it quite cosy. A lighted white on black sign with their name, ChanGe, sits on one side of the entrance, and a poster advertising the coffee printing sits on the other side. “Coffee and Gemstones” is written in smaller print on the sign, going some way to explaining the unusual capitalisation of “g” in the middle of the cafe name (we deduced that it is a mashup with the beginning of “gemstones”).
The service counter and area extends across one side of the space, and one of the things that will catch the eye as you approach the cafe from outside it is the lighted glass cabinet on the counter filled with rows of single-serve cakes. Behind the counter is a board listing their available coffees, divided into roasts, going from light to dark, and given section titles with names of gems, going from Opal and Emerald to Imperial Topaz and Agate. In that sequence, Emerald is the one that makes least sense, given that it is typically green, rather than a shade of brown.. There is also a flatscreen television that displays slides of information about gemstones, although, regrettably, it veers into pseudoscientific woo.
The shiny white-tiled wall behind the service counter is a contrast to the black-painted wall on the other side. Where the service area is all light and bright, the seating side is plush, and a touch decadent, with matte gold-padded booth seats along the wall and sequined throw pillows. Clustered pendant lights hang from the ceiling to provide warm lighting. Wooden panelling on the far wall and in a rafter pattern on the ceiling above add a warm tone, as do the sections of artificial greenery.
Many of the tables have glass tops, and double as display cases for gemstones and jewellery. It is certainly something different, and gives you something to look at while you are waiting for your meal. At least some of the pieces are for sale, so if anything particularly takes your fancy, you could leave with more than coffee and cake. There are also other pieces of jewellery on the wall, framed in place of pictures for decoration.
Music played in the background at a non-intrusive volume, laidback pop ballads like Ed Sheeran making for a relaxed atmosphere.
We placed our order at the counter, requesting the High tea for two, which came with two coffees or teas. Their menu also offers light meals, largely comprising a selection of sandwiches. Besides the cakes in the glass cabinet, they also offer shaved ice desserts and Shibuya honey toast and waffles.
For one of our coffees, we decided to use their coffee picture printing service (how could we not?). As we are a little reluctant to display our faces (we try to retain some anonymity), we opted to have our logo printed on it instead. It wasn’t quite as much of a challenge as working out the gradients for converting a colour photograph to coffee hues, but it was the best alternative we could come up with at the time. It was quite a straightforward process, that just involved sending the picture to the phone of one of the staff members by text. Minutes later, the coffee was brought to the table, with the logo cleanly printed on it.
Picture aside though, the flat white underneath it was found to be not quite strong enough, with mostly a hot cooked milk taste coming through.
The other coffee we had was a soy iced latte (as there is no milk foam, the printing probably can’t be done on cold drinks). This was served in a tall glass, with a bright blue curly straw. It had good gradation of colour before being mixed, and was indeed stronger when we drank it. It had slightly nutty notes, and was well chilled. We forgot to ask which blends the coffees had been done on.
When the two-tiered tray of high tea was brought out, it was certainly caught one’s attention, with an array of colourful sweets on the top tier, and somewhat more substantial components on the bottom tier. These were accompanied by heart-shaped side plates with gold edges, and matching gold cutlery. High tea is generally an indulgent affair, and they had look right.
We began with the bottom layer, as this held the savoury elements. It had two mini quiches, one a ham and cheese one, and one a spinach one. It also had two stacks of little sandwiches, two cupcake cases with what seemed to be seeded slices, and a pair of brownie cubes.
The quiches had light pastry bases with a bit of crunch to them. They weren’t heavy or very buttery, which, taking into account all else that was on the trays, turned out to be fortunate. There was plenty of spinach in the spinach quiche, and a good amount of ham in the ham and cheese one. The custard of the quiches was not too eggy, and was seasoned the right amount, so that it had flavour, without being overly salty.
The sandwiches were made on white bread cut into quarters, with the crusts removed, giving them the requisite daintiness to be part of high tea. The bread was lightly toasted, so that it had a little crispness on its surface, but was still pale for a brighter appearance. The sandwiches were filled with ham, cheese, lettuce, and a slightly sweet mayonnaise. They were light, but still staved off hunger.
Also in little pastry cases were what seemed to be rounds of slices. They were filled with seeds and grains and had a honey note. They were compact and moist, but not too dense, soft and almost crumbling to the bite.
On the top layer were an assortment of macarons, and four different cake bites. There were different again from what was available in the cabinet at the counter.
We began with an orangey coloured rectangular slice. Given its colour, we had thought that it would be something with orange or citrus flavours. Instead, it was a soft apple and cinnamon set puree on a thin cake base. The puree was smooth and had good spice notes. It was not too sweet. Eating it brought to mind a reimagined apple pie.
The next thing we tried was a red and white-layered slice. This had strawberry compote, cream, strawberry jelly, and a joconde base. Again, the fruit flavour was strong, and it had a hint of tartness that balanced the sweetness well. Each layer had a different softness, and it was interesting to compare the similar yet different textures as we ate.
We then had the little chocolate cake. This too was layered and had different textures to it. The base had a praline crunch. The middle part was a smooth, rich chocolate ganache. The piped topping was a lighter ganache, less dense than the middle layer, and a little sweeter. Eaten all together, it would make any chocoholic happy.
The last little non-macaron cake, we could well have eaten in just one bite (but didn’t). It was a lemon cake with a coarse crumb. The citrus cream on top was faintly sweet, but also carried a little zing. It wasn’t too sharp though.
Macarons have had their time in the sun as a fad food, and they certainly still have their fans, with exacting standards. We of course visited Zumbo when we were in Sydney close to the peak of the hype, and had some of their much-lauded macarons, but still didn’t get caught up in it. We have had more since then, but have not pursued them with enough dedication to be experts. Still, the ones on ChanGe Cafe’s high tea tray looked pretty good.
We began with the brightest coloured and most eye-catching one. The pink macaron turned out to be strawberry flavoured. It had a light crispness on the outside of the shell, which gave way to a soft, slightly chewy interior. The strawberry filling was slightly tart. Right in the centre of that was a strawberry jam, which provided contrasting sweetness.
The white macaron, swiped with tan lines, had vanilla flavours. It was filled with a vanilla cream, which had visible vanilla bean bits in it, and further in had a sticky vanilla filling. This had plenty of floral vanilla notes, but avoided being too cloying.
The orange coloured macaron turned out to be jaffa, the chocolate-coloured filling perhaps a visual cue that should have clued us in.
Perhaps least surprisingly, the macaron that looked like it was chocolate turned out to be chocolate. It had a chocolate filling, and a richer sticky chocolate centre in the middle of that.
We had left the chocolate brownies on the lower tier for last, as we thought that they might be too rich, and overpower the items we subsequently ate. They were not as dense or heavy as we anticipated, but still chocolatey. There were biscuit bits in it that were slightly salty, adding a different texture and flavour note. The chocolate ganache layer on top and the chocolate shavings increased the chocolate levels further.
All up, we had an enjoyable high tea at ChanGe Cafe. It stands up well to other high teas available around, and at $55 for two people, is also well priced compared to most. There was a good variety of treats on the tiers, although there being just one of each type of most of the goodies on the trays does mean that you will either have to go with someone who doesn’t mind sharing, or you may have to be prepared to fight over the division of who gets what. The coffee printing is also a novelty, and you can have a go at giving their machine a challenge with a more intricate image.
Price point: $55 for high tea for two.
Value: Not bad.
Address: Level E, Shop 054, The Myer Centre, 91 Queen St, Brisbane CBD. (at one end of the food court, near the Beach House.)
Phone: 0402 483 918
Website: ChanGe Cafe