River Cafe

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Considered the grandest house in Kempsey, Netherby House B&B is a 1922 heritage art deco house offering four guest rooms overlooking the Macleay River. I’d like to say it’s a peaceful location, but the traffic roaring across the bridge to and from the town centre is hard to ignore. What stands out is the alfresco dining in a shady garden overlooking the river and that noisy bridge, which, on a sunny day is glorious. Although I’m only passing through, I wish I had the time to spend several hours reading or writing, as its a lovely place. The scones aren’t your average and mine arrives looking flat, not pancake flat, but shaped more like a rock cake. It has an unusual flavour and is similar to a muffin in texture once pulled apart. Bonus points for being fresh, and the presentation is impressive – is that a ‘N’ for Netherby House on my plate? I still can’t understand why scones are served with such disproportionate amounts of jam and cream. This one has about four times the amount of cream – weird. The jam is a let down, a low quality and sickly sweet strawberry, although the cream is so thick I ask, “What’s the secret?” The cream reminds me of my childhood when I had a dollop of Nestle can cream on hot chocolate custard (you can still buy this cream, it’s near the sweetened condensed milk). I’m right; this is cream from a can and whipped for extra thickness. Touché! Closed Mondays.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good selection of black and herbal loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Although a diversion from the Pacific Highway, the riverside location is sublime.

Location: Netherby House B&B and River Cafe, 5 Little Rudder St, Kempsey NSW 2440
Ph: 02 6563 1777  netherbyhouse.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

Moorland Cottage


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Moorland Cottage in tiny Moorland, a kilometre off the Pacific Highway, claims that they have the best scones on the coast. That’s a big call, as it’s a long coastline, but after my recent visit, I might have to agree with them. You could say that Moorland Cottage is a bit of a destination, not in the Disneyland sense, but it’s a lovely place to fuel up on food while at the same time taking a break from the bitumen. Relax in the shady garden, where tables are topped with ‘tea potted plants,’ or take a table inside and pick up a memento from the goodies for sale. It’s warm and inviting with myriad teaware, soaps, relishes and jams to buy. Their scones are seriously sensational. The day I drop in, plain and date scones have just come out of the oven (I arrive mid morning). They are light and fluffy with a slightly crisp outer layer, and the date scones are rich and moist without being too overpowering with the dates. The rich mixed berry jam, that tastes more like raspberry jam is house made, and the cream is whipped as thick as possible. Moorland Cottage is a gem for road trippers, although shame about the ordinary tea bag. With some loose-leaf tea, this Devonshire Tea could be one of the attractions/highlights of any Pacific Highway road trip. I know where I’m stopping next time! Conveniently open seven days a week from 9am until 4pm.

Scones:

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of tea bags (mine was an ALDI Diplomat tea bag) served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A ‘not-to-be-missed’ Pacific Highway ‘must-do’.

Location: 34 Hannam Vale Rd, Moorland NSW 2443 Ph: 0413 230 831

Reviewed April, 2015

The Cottage Cafe

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The Taree Craft Centre Inc. and Cottage Cafe are humming the day I visit. It’s the eve of their Quilting Exhibition and crafters are busily moving furniture and hanging quilts. Not a fan of craft, but I do love the odd tea cosy, particularly from a functional point of view. An owner of 20 varieties of tea, I’m always nursing pots of tea throughout the day, so a tea cosy comes in handy during winter. The Craft Centre not only sells crafty wares and trinkets but is a hub for folks to learn skills in knitting, crocheting, patchwork and quilting, scrapbooking and jewellery making. The Cottage Cafe offers a simple menu including plain or date scones served with butter. The scones taste homemade with a lovely texture but are microwaved a bit too much. The jam is thick, reminiscent of canned varieties, which I like, and the cream is fresh and thickly whipped, as it should be. The café opens Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 2pm.

Scones:

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: A variety of tea bag teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: An extensive craft shop with a comfy café that craft lovers would love.

Location: Taree Craft Centre Inc., Cnr High & Pulteney Sts, Taree NSW 2430 Ph: 02 6551 5766
www.tareecraftcentre.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

The Coffee Emporium

DT@The Coffee Emporium - Westfield Burwood#2

No matter how stylish and appealing you try to make a franchise café or restaurant look or sound on their website, if you can’t deliver decent quality goods, even if it is just scones, jam and cream, then how can you expect repeat customers? It’s one of my pet hates of eating in shopping malls – almost every eatery is a franchise. Located on Level One at Westfield Shopping Mall in Burwood, The Coffee Emporium is one of a few choices I find for scones. I’m sorry to say but these are some of the worst scones I have ever had. Dry and basically stale, they arrive cut in half and spruced up with a sprinkle of icing sugar. The half of scone I manage to eat leaves a bad taste in my mouth, which is often associated with scones that are baked to sit for days on end in a cake cabinet and taste like it’s made from a packet mix. The jam is average and the sweet faux cream is from a can. The whole lot tastes sickly sweet and synthetic. If you insist on giving them a try yourself, other Coffee Emporium franchises are located in Westfield and other shopping malls in Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual variety of teas. Listed on the menu as plunger tea, but when it arrives it is actually loose-leaf tea in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A typical franchise serving up a lousy Devonshire Tea.

Location: Level 1 Westfield Burwood, 100 Burwood Rd, Burwood NSW 2134 Ph: 02 8084 0946
www.thecoffeeemporium.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

Cowtown Diner & Burger Bar

DT@Cowtown Diner, Margaret River#2

It’s raining the day I visit Cowtown and I don’t have an umbrella. A real shame as there are black and white fibreglass cows all over the place. There’s even a gold one on top of a pole in the park that looks as though it’s about to do a spectacular swan dive into an imaginary pool. This is Cowaramup, more commonly known as Cowtown, and boy don’t the locals play on its cow-theme. In 2012 the town installed 42 of these life size cow sculptures to attract tourists and in July 2014 the town set a Guinness World Record for the largest group of people – 1,352 – dressed as cows! I visit the first café I see advertising scones, and it’s Cowtown Diner & Burger Bar’s ‘Devonshire Tea for 1 or 2′, that grabs me. I love the black and white polka dot cup and saucer that instantly reminds me of a Friesian cow, how apt. The scone is a bit crumbly, but surprisingly good for a burger bar, and the lovely thick cream makes up for the average jam.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual variety of teas available at cafes, all loose-leaf served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A surprisingly good spread in a quirky town that deserves a visit for the ‘fun’ factor.

Location: 1/64 Bussell Hwy, Cowaramup WA 6284 Ph: 08 9755 9270

Reviewed March, 2015

 

 

The Nookery Cafe

DT@The Nookery Cafe, Margaret River#

There are more wineries in the Margaret River Region then you’ll have time to poke a stick at, and a few with restaurants and cafes. If you can tear yourself away from the pristine beaches that look more tropical and spectacular than most I have seen in south-east Asia (and I have seen probably 75 per cent of them), then you are in for a treat with some mouth-watering menus and amazing wines. Short on time, I scour Trip Advisor and find a review on the scones at The Nookery Cafe at Woody Nook Wines, a slightly out-of-the-way and unknown to me winery. The review describes large scones but nothing could prepare me for how big they actually are. Scones on steroids is how I would describe them, and large is not always best because they are far too large for morning or afternoon tea, even if you are sharing. To me, the scones have a strange flavour that I can’t put my finger on – maybe it’s the icing sugar on top. The cream is sweet and light, and the fresh strawberry is a nice touch. I’m not a fan of chunky preserved fruit in a bit of sweet syrup masquerading as jam. It’s like eating a fruit sandwich, and I stopped eating those when I left primary school (think banana sandwiches). Wineries are often associated with inflated prices and gourmet food but it’s a bit ridiculous. Not only are the two scones accompanied with only enough jam and cream for half of one, but also the price is a bit high. The tea is a run-of-the-mill Twining tea bag and I have to actually go up and order my meal at the bar. With prices like this it’s absurd! ‘It is WA after all’ comes to mind yet again!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual variety of teas found at most cafes. Twining tea bags served in a pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: An intimate winery experience.

Location: Woody Nook Wines, 506 Metricup Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280 Ph: 08 9755 7030
www.woodynook.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

Emu Point Cafe

DT@Emu Point Cafe#2

It’s a shame there aren’t more cafes in the south-western corner of Australia like Emu Point Cafe. I notice a definite deficit in venues with world-class water views and a decent menu (note non kiosk style of food). After the breakfast rush is over I have a choice of outdoor tables with sublime views over Oyster Harbour and the neck of water that separates it from King George Sound. The menu is varied with some interesting seafood dishes (local seafood at that) and I wish I were around for lunch. At first sight I am impressed with the Devonshire Tea. This is my sixth in a few days on the west coast, and so far the best. The blackberry jam is exquisite and the double cream a blessing with the combination of both really adding flavour to scones that are a bit tasteless. The staff is friendly and the buzz reminds be of a beachside café in Sydney.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A prime position overlooking Oyster Harbour.

Location: 1 Mermaid Ave, Emu Point, Albany WA 6330 Ph: 08 9844 7207 www.emupointcafe.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015