Sideways Deli Cafe

DT@Sideways Deli Cafe - Dulwich Hill

It’s always nice to come across feeding holes popular with the locals. I promise I’m not eavesdropping but it seems as though Dulwich Hill folk have no qualms about sharing, which makes me feel as though Sideways Deli Cafe is a meeting spot to catch up on the gossip. There’s lots of seating in the cafe’s airy and bright interior, but I choose one of the many outdoor tables on the footpath. Perched on a roundabout, it feels like it offers easy access as proven by today’s buzzy atmosphere. There are lots of tasty looking treats on the counter, including a plate full of freshly baked scones. I will be so bold as to say that they are fresh, because they taste sensational. So light and fluffy with a creamy taste, I wish I ordered two and not just one. The strawberry jam is tart and not sickly sweet and reminds me of a homemade variety rather than a commercially bought one, but I could be wrong. Nonetheless, it gets my tick of approval. The cream however, although fresh, is too light for me. This spread would really shine with a thicker whipped cream – but that’s just me.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good variety of Tea Craft loose-leaf teas served in a decent sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A popular hidden gem in the quiet streets of suburban Dulwich Hill.

Location: 37 Constitution Rd, Dulwich Hill NSW 2203 Ph: 02 9560 1425 www.sidewaysdelicafe.com.au

Reviewed January, 2015

 

Ciao Thyme

DT@Ciao Thyme-Balmain

I’m no baker, but this doesn’t look like a lemonade scone – well, not one that I have had before. And actually, it doesn’t really taste like a scone either, tasting more like a square muffin or loaf. But this is what a lemonade scone served with jam and cream looks like at Ciao Thyme in Balmain. A cute corner cafe situated a few blocks towards the eastern end of Darling Street and far enough away from the busy-ness of Balmain, it feels positively relaxing. In this part of town, it’s hard not to notice the heritage that’s evident in the plethora of sandstone buildings and cute terraces and cottages dating back to Sydney’s early years. I am having such a pleasant experience that I don’t mind that my scone is a little weird, as my strawberry jam is better than your average and the Chantilly cream is just about right.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good selection of loose-leaf teas served in handle free plunger pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A cute, chilled out and airy cafe in the quiet part of town.

Location: 212 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2041 Ph: 02 9555 5455

Reviewed January, 2015

Bianco Nero Expresso

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You wouldn’t expect to find freshly baked homemade scones in Randwick. The Spot, a popular restaurant hub in Randwick, doesn’t scream ‘scone eating territory,’ but what do you know? Here they are, literally a mountain of homebaked scones on the counter. The cafe is pretty breezy and you can sit out the back on the enclosed deck or out the front where some of the seating spills out on to the footpath. The scones are indeed homemade, and are fresh with a creamy taste. The housemade raspberry jam is exquisite. Loaded with fruit, the jam offers the perfect balance between sweet and tart. The chef tells us they also make their own blueberry jam. The only gripe, apart from the weak tea, is the cream. It’s whipped but melts very quickly. It’s not THAT hot, but perhaps a chilled dish would help, or something that’s not straight out of the dishwasher.

Scones: 

Jam:

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot, although a bit on the weak side.

Price: $$

Overall: Surprisingly good scones in a handy Eastern Suburb eatery hub.

Location: 36 St Pauls St, Randwick NSW 2031 Ph: 02 9399 7879

Reviewed January, 2015

Katoomba Falls Kiosk

DT@Katoomba Falls Kiosk#

I know visiting anywhere that requires customer service on New Years’ Day is probably not the best idea. It’s 11am and we are the only customers at the Katoomba Falls Kiosk, and still the service is a little lax. Not slow or bad, just a tad blasé. From it’s historic exterior, the Kiosk has always intrigued me, but now, with doors thrown open to the warm summer’s day, the cafe is rather sterile and nothing more than an ordinary takeaway joint to lure tourists. It’s in the right spot as everyone driving to Scenic World or walking back from the Skyway, because they refuse to queue again for the return ride, will pass by it. The place has a lovely garden but not many shady tables when it’s hot, however maybe the umbrellas weren’t put out yet? Overall the whole spread is rather average, the scone is passable and fresh enough – not bad, the jam, good enough, but the cream too airy. Considering there are so many great Devonshire Tea options in the area, this spread, one scone and a mug of tea, is way overpriced for both quality and quantity.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A motley selection of tea bags served in a small coffee cup or mug.

Price: $$

Overall: Despite the location this cafe is soulless much like the tourist mecca up the road.

Location: Katoomba Falls, 102b Cliff Drv, Katoomba NSW 2780 Ph: 02 4782 4868

Reviewed January, 2015

 

 

Stonestead

DT@Stonestead-Upper Hutt#2

As soon as I pull up outside the white cottage and leafy garden of Stonestead, I know the Devonshire Tea is going to be a winner. Owner, baker and host, Kevin Bold has been pumping out top quality DTs from the converted garage at the 150 plus year-old property since 2007. We arrive just as he’s popping a tray of date scones in to the oven, to add to the cheese (there they are again New Zealand), plain and sultana he already has available today. There’s nothing flash about his workspace in the garage, and you only want to sit in here if the weather is bad. Instead, head around the back of the house and take tea in the wonderfully lush garden. Huge scones resembling mini dampers seem to be the norm in NZ, and I opt for a plain one. Although it’s slightly salty, it is superb: crispy on the outside and all warm and fluffy on the inside. Kevin makes the blackberry, apricot and strawberry jams on site. Can you get any more housemade than this? And the thickly whipped cream complements the spread perfectly. I am so excited that I only read the notice regarding the clotted cream when I look back at my photos after I had left. We weren’t given that option so I’m not sure whether clotted cream is always available, so check. Before you leave stock up on t-leaf T and Stonestead housemade jams, and add a vintage teacup or two to your shopping basket. Open Thursday to Sunday or by arrangement for groups.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good choice of New Zealand’s own loose-leaf t-leaf T served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A sensational Devonshire Tea at a bargain price!

Location: 3 Plateau Rd, Te Marua, Upper Hutt 5018

Reviewed in December, 2014

Interislander Cook Strait Ferry

DY@Interislander Ferry-NZ

Booking the Premium Plus Lounge in addition to your fare on the Interislander Ferry adds a certain business class vibe if that’s what you’re after. I’m on the Kaitaki, one of the ferries that ply the waters of the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The last time I did this crossing, 14 years ago, I spent much of the three-hourish journey holed up in the cinema watching a latest release. Refurbished in 2013, the cinema is still there, alongside several eateries, as well as a wonderful glass atrium that doubles as a viewing area, but be warned, the few seats go quickly. This time I am booked in to the Kaitaki Plus Lounge that offers respite from the crowds, meals (breakfast and morning tea) and drinks etc. It’s a few days before Christmas and Kiwis and tourists are on the move, so I’m glad I have the option to cocoon myself in the relative quiet of the Lounge. It’s here as we start cruising through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds that I hear the announcement, “scones are now being served.” Not expecting much from the scones in the Lounge as they are cut in half and sitting in the warmth of a bain marie, I give them a shot anyway. The plain scones are better than average and if not having to sit; undignified and rather unappealingly, aren’t half bad. The cream is fresh and thickly whipped and you can help yourself to as much as you like. Even the portion-controlled jam isn’t that bad, but still, I’d prefer it served in a dish. Scones are also served in the cafes on the ferry, just so the folk in cattle class can partake in this lovely British tradition.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: In the Kaitaki Plus Lounge there are a selection of tea bags and self-serve tea.

Price: $$

Overall: Upgrade to the Kaitaki Plus lounge if you want to steer clear of the madding crowds.

Location: Wellington Ferry Terminal, 1 Aotea Quay, Wellington 6011 Ph: +64 800 802 802
www.interislander.co.nz

Reviewed in December, 2014

Smith The Grocer

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Wandering around downtown Wellington I stumble upon The Old Bank Arcade just off Lambton Quay. I’m drawn to its historic grandeur and the promise of scones. Smith The Grocer spills out into the arcade, and I don’t realise how much room the cafe takes up until I leave. Even inside, the split-level cafe it’s roomy with walls covered in vintage wares and an impressive butcher’s block sits near the front counter. There’s a stack of fresh date and cheese scones, which is the usual scenario as far as scones go in New Zealand. Normally served with butter, I request cream and jam and have low expectations. When my date scone arrives it is big, fresh and rich with dates, but the jam is lousy as it’s just your average portion controlled variety. The cream tastes like a combination of whipped cream and mock cream and goes well with the ensemble making it a worthwhile diversion.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good variety of interesting loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A great option if you’re out shopping in central Wellington.

Location: The Old Bank Arcade, 233-237 Lambton Quay, Wellington 6011 Ph: +64 4 473 8591
www.smiththegrocer.co.nz

Reviewed in December, 2014