TimeOut Love London Awards winner in both 2015 and 2016, Highness Café & Tea Room is a charming family-run cake shop located on the short stretch of high street between Highbury, Islington and Arsenal that has come to be known Highbury Barn. Unassuming as it may be, walk past Highness Café’s brimming window display of tempting home made cakes and I defy you not to be lured inside.
The selection of cakes changes daily. It includes classic bakes such as carrot cake, Victoria sponge busting with strawberry jam, and coffee and walnut cake, as well as pastry chef Nes’ own creations, such as a dark and indulgent chocolate and coffee sponge with a mirror-shine chocolate ganache (the coffee really enhanced the bitter-sweet chocolate flavour), an intriguing banana and avocado cake (fresh and fruity) and a twist on a juicy lemon drizzle: a lemon and pistachio pound cake topped with a thick layer of smooth and zingy icing.
The ginger sponge cake is one of my favourites. You get a burst of ginger flavour when you bite into the nuggets of candied ginger, concealed inside the fluffy, spiced sponge, and I would happily eat mouthfuls of the luscious ginger buttercream straight from the bowl! The lovely Jerry’s latest recipe is for an apple and almond cake. It’s not too sweet, has chunks of soft, fruity apple and has a warming hum of cinnamon spice. The vintage china plates, decorated with floral designs, and dainty silver forks make the cakes all the prettier.
There are also savoury options for breakfast, brunch, lunch or an early dinner. Breakfast classics include eggs Benedict with a luscious thick hollandaise sauce, runny egg and crispy bacon served on hearty wholegrain toast. For lunch, there’s baked jacket potatoes with simple and classic toppings including melty cheese, comforting baked beans and tuna mayo, as well as sandwiches, salads, soups and pies.
The salads are an extremely generous portion and great value – its not just a giant bowl of leaves; they feature an array of Mediterranean ingredients, including olives, roast peppers, sun-blushed tomatoes and capers, to accompany your choice of smoked salmon, succulent chargrilled chicken breast (fresh off the grill, none of the packet stuff!), prosciutto or cheeses.
This is a café for all, frequented by everyone from young families with lively children, students engrossed in the screen of their laptop, groups of friends catching up and couples out for a cosy brunch. It’s everything a local, family-run café should be.
Highness Café & Tea Room
21A Highbury Park,
T: 020 7998 8595
Open 8:00-18:30 (Tues – Fri), 9:00-18:00 (Sat – Mon)