High time for cakes and tea in Highgate
PUBLISHED: 17:31 11 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:13 07 September 2010
High Tea of Highgate only opened in April, but it s already a popular local venue, with weekend queues and customers keen to book in. Owner and baker Georgina Worthington (pictured) told me that she s delighted.
High Tea of Highgate only opened in April, but it's already a popular local venue, with weekend queues and customers keen to book in.
Owner and baker Georgina Worthington (pictured) told me that she's delighted.
"We've a wide mix of customers", she says. "From mothers and daughters to groups of teenage boys."
It's no surprise that the very feminine, pale pink-fronted tearoom on Highgate's High Street draws in women of all ages. It's popular for hen parties who book ahead for a set-menu tea.
More surprising are the teenage boys who meet there. "They plonk the rugby ball on the floor and sit drinking their tea properly," she says.
Apparently, the younger man isn't fussy, but older male customers tend to stick to Georgina's bara brith and carrot cake. "Nine times out of 10 a man will order one of those".
She bakes from 8am most days, but on weekends, when she also has orders for birthday cakes and cup cakes, can start as early as 5.30am.
She often leaves the shop door open, so the enticing baking smells waft onto the street. "Our postman has a guess at what he can smell cooking," she says. "He's remarkably accurate, even down to the spices."
Her bestsellers are the bara brith - traditional Welsh tea bread packed with spices and raisins and made to Georgina's grandmother's original recipe - carrot cake and lemon drizzle cake.
Glamorous Worthington had baked for friends and family for years. She studied history of art and then did a foundation year in textiles before starting her career as a designer. She worked for Paul Smith and then Burberry before her yearning to open her own business got the better of her.
"I feel immensely lucky to have combined all my interests - interior design, art, new designers, baking and buying," she says.
The shop's decor, which is tea-themed and generally kitsch-retro reflects this. Chandeliers made from glass teacups hang from the ceilings and a selection of tea-themed art graces the walls.
Worthington delights in promoting new artists. The current exhibition is Becky Oldfield's Lost and Found, art created from pieces of vintage London.
She lives nearby, and is a keen supporter of things local and British. Tea comes from Martins in Muswell Hill and the eggs and milk from a Devon farm Worthington has visited. The retro-looking Burleigh china, which forms part of the tearoom's feel, is a long-established family-owned brand produced in Staffordshire.
It's no surprise High Tea has been a hit with the locals. An independent business run by someone with passion is just what Highgate needs - and it looks like she'll be here for the long term.