A mum who uses adventures and outings around town as an excuse to avoid the housework.
Published July 21st 2013
Brisbane's favourite place to dine since 1936
One of Brisbane's great icons, the Shingle Inn, has returned to the city. If you're a little puzzled as to why I refer to it as returned, it's because I'm not talking about the Shingle Inn cafes that can be found dotted around the CBD and suburbs, but the flagship restaurant that once resided on Edward Street. The original Shingle Inn has reopened in its new home on the ground floor of the recently refurbished Brisbane City Hall. Steeped in tradition and offering an exceptional dining experience, a visit to the original restored Shingle Inn is the new must-do for visitors to Brisbane as well as returning diners.
Inside Shingle Inn Brisbane City Hall, image courtesy of Shingle Inn
The original Shingle Inn opened in 1936 as a café bakery renowned for its decadent sweet treats, exquisite surrounds and outstanding customer service. When it closed a little over 10 years ago to make way for the Queens Plaza shopping development many people thought that Brisbane would never again see a true English teahouse. Thanks to some careful storage, diligent restoration work, and the generosity of the Bellchambers family who have gifted the café to the city of Brisbane, the original Shingle Inn is once again open for business.
Many of the classic Shingle Inn heritage fixtures have been faithfully restored in the new premises. Original light fittings, the ornate chandelier that once hung in the front window display area, polished brass table footings and warm wood panelling are all on display once again. However it is the beautifully restored wood booths and iconic shingled roof awning that visitors will instantly recognise and remember. Apart from the fixtures and furniture there are more subtle traditions that have endured the test of time. The shiny silver sugar bowls that are turned to represent whether a table has been served, the mouth-watering display of decadent treats in the front window, and the friendly hospitality of the waitresses dressed in distinctive black and white outfits have all continued.
Waitresses serving afternoon tea in traditional Shingle Inn attire, image courtesy of Shingle Inn
Not only is it the heritage factor that makes this restaurant a huge drawcard, the food will also have you coming back for more. Breakfast and a traditional afternoon tea are available daily with lunch available Monday to Friday. Seasonal specials are something unique to the City Hall lunchtime menu and are designed to preserve the origins of the Shingle Inn. Remnants of popular dishes from generations past can be found here including empire curry (1940s), meatloaf (1970s), and bread and butter pudding (1940s) this winter.
A snapshot of the delicious treats displayed in the front window
It is the traditional afternoon tea that many patrons are flocking to sample. This is the ultimate indulgent high tea experience and has been a long-standing tradition of the Shingle Inn. During our visit we were presented with a beautiful tiered high tea stand containing gourmet ribbon sandwiches, fresh baked scones with clotted cream and preserves, and delicate sweet treats. Beverages available are tea, coffee, or a selection of wines and champagnes, depending upon the type of afternoon tea selected. Afternoon tea prices start from $40 per person. Bookings are essential.
Visitors enjoying a Shingle Inn high tea, image courtesy of Shingle Inn
One of the most heart-warming sights is when a new generation is introduced to the Shingle Inn. To help create magical memories across the generation divide Shingle Inn offers a special children's Teddy Bear afternoon tea. This is lovely because it encourages parents and grandparents to create special traditions with their children, which is one of the things the original Edward Street Shingle Inn is best remembered for.
Teddy Bear afternoon tea, image courtesy of Shingle Inn
Special events are regularly held at the Shingle Inn to celebrate special occasions such as mother's day or to cater for special interest groups such as book club. Join their mailing list or check their website for upcoming event details.
Due to the popularity of the City Hall Shingle Inn bookings are essential for afternoon tea and events, and are highly recommended for breakfast and lunch. Reservations and pre-payments can be arranged online or by phoning 3210 2904 at least 24 hours prior to your intended visit. Bookings for large groups and private functions can also be arranged.
Generations of Brisbane diners will already have fond memories of the Edward Street Shingle Inn. The new City Hall location does not disappoint in terms of nostalgic, culinary and service value. The former grace of the original Shingle Inn has been faithfully continued within the new dining establishment. Why not spoil yourself with an indulgent dining experience just as patrons of the past have done, or start a new tradition today, because nothing quite beats the original.
I went there recently on a Sunday afternoon, the main inside of the restaurant was shut so we ventured to a table on the tiled area just outside, there were no clean tables so we sat at an uncleared one, the waitress came over and ordered us to get up and 'stand over there' till she'd cleared the table, we got up and kept going and instead had afternoon tea at our usual spot with great scones and impeccable service.