Buvette Masthead

The Sweet Spot: The Terrace Café at MOADOPH

Javier Steel

There are few places in Canberra as significant as Old Parliament House, home to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MOADOPH). It is where our nation was shaped – so naturally the building holds a warm sentimentality for us. But it is not just a place for Canberrans; it’s a place for all Australians, and now what we once thought of as a national landmark is also a place to enjoy for a whole new reason.

Javier at Terrace Cafe

I’ve always enjoyed visiting Old Parliament House for the history and exhibitions; though as a visual person, it is the building itself that I am most drawn to. Often when I’m in the area, I’ll take a quick detour past, just to admire its charm. Each visit, I like to reimagine the place, wondering what it could be and planning what I would do if it were mine.

Stepping into the Terrace Café last week, I was given a glimpse of what I’d always imagined that this place could be. The original foundations give way to a modern aesthetic – the perfect mixture of old and new – and it looks stunning. What were once cream walls are now white and a split-level has been installed providing guests with a stunning view looking out towards the War Memorial.


Room with a view…

The original decorative mouldings, cornices and lighting remain – it is essentially the furnishings that have changed. The revamped café houses sleek furniture and comfortable, modern black leather chairs from Designcraft (uncomfortable chairs are an absolute deal breaker for me).


The space now feels contemporary and bright but we’re reminded of the buildings heritage through the striking large-scale black and white imagery that adorns the Café walls. These images are by photographer Andrew Merry who has managed to beautifully capture the building’s intricate details, which are so often overlooked.


The menu is short and sweet, quite literally. The Terrace Cafe has been referred to as Canberra’s newest sweet spot, offering a range of delicious sweet treats, including elderflower cupcakes, pastries, muffins and macaroons – all of which have been made in-house.


My personal favourite was the friand, soft and light with a toffee aftertaste. There are also a range of savoury options and light meals available. The pulled pork and slaw was really enjoyable on a soft bread roll and the quinoa, beetroot and fetta salad was another hero dish – a winning combination of flavours presented beautifully in a petite glass bowl.


Parmesan Pastry Twist


The Pulled Pork and slaw slider…


A healthy alternative for your sweet tooth: Quinoa, beetroot and fetta salad

The Café also offers a curated wine list, including a number of local wines and they intend on adding a cheese platter to the menu, which I’m excited to try. To me, the strength of the menu is that it’s fresh and simple whilst catering to a range of tastes.

I love coffee and I’m fussy – bad coffee is another deal breaker to me. So, I was really hoping to enjoy my latte, and I absolutely did. I knew it would be great the moment I saw the Instagram worthy panda bear picture in my foam. I’ve never seen anything like it. I came to learn that I was lucky enough to enjoy a coffee courtesy of award-winning barista, Chelley Penn.


Instagram-worthy coffee art with doughnut balls.

In addition to providing adorable coffee art, Penn also offers guests a unique range of beverages, such as: Cocoa and maple milkshakes, matcha green tea lattes and espresso. I strongly recommend trying a beverage at the Terrace Café – it is the ultimate place to sit back, sip on a coffee and take in the beauty of this iconic heritage building.


If you decide to visit the Terrace Café on a weekend, make sure that you try their high tea, comprising of a three-tiered platter of hand made sweets accompanied by Darjeeling tea and sparkling wine (bookings only).

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The Terrace Café provides another reason to visit Old Parliament House – it really is nice to see it reimagined. Next time I stop by, I’d like to sit outside in the sun with a glass of Canberra wine, a cheese platter and good company. New places to eat and good food are not so hard to come by in Canberra. But you’ll rarely behold a building so inspiring or a view so captivating as you will at the Terrace Café at Old Parliament house.

The essentials

The Place: Terrace Café
Where: 18 King George Terrace, Parkes
When: 9am-5pm, Monday to Sunday
Food: Sumptuous breakfast, pastry and savoury treats and light meals
Drinks: Coffee, tea, shakes and wine
Contact: For bookings 1300 870 433 or visit moadoph.gov.au/visiting/cafe

This is a sponsored post but opinions are the author’s own. It complies with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s guidelines on Online ReviewsRead our Sponsored Post Policy if you would like more information. The authors dined courtesy of Restaurant Associates. 

Photos by Jessica Schumann.


Javier Steel

At 18, Javier left her home in the country in search of greater opportunity, leading her to Canberra's creative industry. A visual person and problem solver, Javier has been working as a Graphic Designer in the marketing industry for over eight years. In her time in Canberra, Javier has worked on countless local brands and projects including Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s identity, Brand Canberra (CBR), The Future Sessions, YWCA Canberra, CBR Innovation Network and HerCanberra. Javier is now the Creative Director of HerCanberra. More about the Author

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