At about the age of 11, I decided that birthday parties were too stressful. Back then I thought it was too hard to balance your cousins from both sides, school friends and home friends – boy, if only I knew how much more complicated life could get.
Fastforward to the present – I was about to have a landmark birthday and I decided I wanted to do something nice. Not being used to organising parties and being extremely busy at work, I roped my husband and family into planning a party about two weeks before the big day. I knew it was late at that point but tried to throw something together anyway. I couldn’t decide how many people I should invite and I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do. The idea of a high tea appealed to me. Sometimes at a restaurant you are packed in so tightly that you can’t really walk around and mingle. I thought a high tea would be a fun alternative.
After reading an article we phoned the One & Only about their high tea. The man we spoke to said they had availability for 300 people and we can even phone the day before the big day as he claimed they were not that busy. The price was also quite reasonable compared to other places. We wanted to make a booking on the spot but he advised us to call in the morning and pay the deposit etc. I love my friends but sometimes they can be hard to get into one room. I made the mistake of contacting people and finding out who was available. Given that the price was reasonable, I contacted about 35 people to find out whether they were available on the date and time.
I was so excited that night imagining the One & Only high tea. We called first thing in the morning and to our horror, we found that the place was practically booked out! There was some sort of a mistake and they only had space for 16 people. Inviting only half of the people I contacted was not an option. I didn’t want to change the time either as I had already asked for the Saturday afternoon. I started to panic.
We went back to every article that says “10 best high teas in Cape Town”. Can I just say that there only seems to be about 12 places that does high tea so I don’t quite see the point of the “10 best” (it might be something I’ll explore in future as it is clear that all these articles takes bits and pieces of other articles). Anyway, we called every place on the list and all of them were either booked out or simply could not accommodate such a large party. Any place you can mention, I promise you we frantically called.
All of my husband’s colleagues helped out with giving suggestions. One suggested a place called the Casa Labia in Muizenberg. I checked out their website and it looked nice but I was wary about the damn-near-permanent roadworks in Muizenberg. According to their website, the place was built in 1929 and was the residence of Count and Countess Natale Labia.
My husband contacted them and they were the only place that could accomodate such a large group at the last minute. There was just one small problem – their high tea is only until 4pm and I knew that it would be such a rush. If anyone shows up late, the party would be over before they’ve even arrived. We inquired about keeping the place until 5.30pm and they accommodated us (at an extra cost of course). I was also wary that they charged a 10% service fee on top of the price per person per head.
Not having many options left, we debated it (briefly) and went for it!
The big day
Did I mention I was out of town that week due to work and only arrived back in Cape Town close to midnight the Friday and the party was Saturday? Point being is that I did not have time to do anything!
I woke up to breakfast in bed (and stayed in bed until about 11am) – heaven. Then I quickly got dressed and we made our way to Casa Labia. The roadworks happened to be right in-front of the venue so it was a bit of a walk to get there. I warned most of the guests.
When I got there I was pleasantly surprised with the venue. We were given a private room with a piano (and a man to play it!).
The tables were set quite nicely too. We were told that we were free to walk about in the garden, the other rooms and check out the gallery upstairs. Unexpectedly, guests actually arrived on time so I was caught a bit off-guard. Once most of the guests arrived, the staff brought out three-tiered stands with savouries and sandwiches (all vegetarian and seafood as they did not cater halaal). I was not that impressed with the sandwiches as they looked a bit like the normal ones you find in children’s lunchboxes (i.e. not cut in triangles). After that they brought out mini-tarts which were quite yummy. We had to pay a bit extra for some juice and guests were only allowed to have one cup of coffee or tea, which I thought was a little stingy but anyway.
I was glad that we took the place for a bit longer as to my surprise, most of the guests were mingling and chatting with one another. We also did some whale watching as two whales decided to visit for my special day.
All in all, I was pleased with the venue and the service I received. In a way I was glad that the One & Only did not work out and that I celebrated my birthday at this gem of a place. Most of the guests said that the venue was beautiful and that they enjoyed the snacks. It was a special place for a special day!
You can read a bit more about my party’s theme (smart with a touch of vintage) here.
FYI – the cafe is open daily and you can pop in without making a booking
192 Main Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: 021-788 6062