The Tea Cosy

DT@The Tea Cosy

I’ve been to The Tea Cosy in The Rocks many times, and if I weren’t in the habit of sniffing out new places to have scones, I would be visiting a lot more often. This time round, I take a gluten-free friend who is literally gagging for a scone fix to try The Teas Cosy’s gluten-free offering. It is important however to pre-order as there isn’t always a batch of gluten-free in the oven. The place is literally pumping out scones to a full house, and even though there are a couple of parties upstairs, we nab the last table for two downstairs. There are four flavours today including one savoury. I go with a currant and an apple crumble scone, which are not long out of the oven; crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. There are nine flavours of Hanks jam to choose from and have the blood plum, which is rich and fruity and goes perfectly with the fresh scones and double thick cream. My gluten-free buddy is lost for words, but manages a “the best scones I’ve ever had.” So as a gluten gal, I suppose she means that they don’t taste like cardboard and are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – just like mine but gluten-free. Nestled in beside the popular Mercantile Hotel in The Rocks, The Tea Cosy spills out onto the footpath and a blackboard sign announces the time when the last batch of scones were baked, or if you’re lucky, when they are coming out of the oven. On Thursdays and Fridays they have three flavours with an extra one (usually a savoury) available on weekends. It’s all about the scones and the tea cosies, and depending on how hungry you are, in addition to the Devonshire Tea, they offer a High Tea. As the namesake suggests, the place is littered with tea cosy covered teapots. All tea cosies are for sale, apart from the one on your pot, or you could always ask. Open Thursday to Sunday.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: 19 varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a tea cosy covered pot.

Price: $$

Overall: For tea, tradition and tea cosies – where else is there?

Location: 33 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9247 4955 www.theteacosy.com.au

Reviewed in November, 2014

The Coonanbarra Cafe

DT@The Coonabarra Cafe, Wahroonga#2

Oh Wahroonga! I’m impressed. You look so pretty on this perfect late spring day with all your leafy streets, green parks and colourful blossoms. It really does feel a world away from Sydney even though the suburb’s heartbeat is spitting distance from the hectic Pacific Highway. Located opposite Wahroonga Park, The Coonanbarra Cafe is nestled in a restored historic building from the late 1800s with diners sprawled out on the footpath to make the most of the warm weather. It feels slightly out of this world and I have to keep on reminding myself where I am. The service is chirpy and efficient but overall the quality of the Devonshire Tea spread is pretty average. My friend isn’t impressed with the scones saying they are too doughy, and to me they are on the dry side. The jam is a standard variety and the cream is sweet, airy and synthetic – straight out of an aerosol can. What a shame as the location is just so lovely!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: A combo of loose-leaf and tea bag teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A beautiful shady spot opposite a pretty park.

Location: 64 Coonanbarra Rd, Wahroonga NSW 2076 Ph: 02 9489 0980 www.coonanbarracafe.com.au

Reviewed in November, 2014

The Station

DT@The Station-Wahroonga#

Previously known as Cafe Laurella, the owners have revamped this popular bright corner cafe and relaunched it as The Station. The floor-to-ceiling windows make the small space bright and airy and really allow you to check out all the mouth-watering sweets in the cabinet. I ask the barista how he copes working all day with a fresh tray of divine looking cinnamon scrolls in arms reach. The scones are by far not the most appetising sweets in the house, but we are The Devonshire Tea Guide after all not the Lemon Meringue Patrol (you get my drift). The lovely teacup and saucer is a bonus but really should be a given in cafes in 2014. Drinking tea in a thick-rimmed coffee cup is like drinking an expensive red wine out of a plastic cup – it just doesn’t work. The scone looks a bit too much like a bread roll but surprisingly tastes okay, but has no other redeeming qualities. The jam is average and a bit syrupy and although the cream is fresh, it’s been aerated not whipped, and far too light for me.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

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

Price: $$

Overall: The wicked desserts, and those cinnamon scrolls will get you in!

Location: 23 Coonanbarra Rd, Wahroonga NSW 2076 Ph: 02 9487 7233 www.thestationwahroonga.com.au

Reviewed in November, 2014

Prato Cafe & Diner

DT@Prato cafe & Diner#

As soon as we see Prato Cafe & Diner my friend and I ‘ooh and ah’ as we walk across the lawn and through the luscious garden. The old historic building started out as an ornamental Pavilion on a waterfront estate back in the early 1900s, then became a weekend recreational playground used by Grace Bros employees (think bowling greens, tennis courts, cricket pitches and a small golf course). In 1917 until 1991, the Swiss chocolate giant, Nestle, built a chocolate factory adjacent to the building and used it as offices then a recreational clubhouse for factory employees. Since then, the building has been brought back to its former glory but unfortunately is hemmed in on two sides by residential apartments, a tennis court and swimming pool. Nonetheless, it’s a great find in – if you aren’t from the area – a secret Sydney suburb. There’s lot to keep you occupied as you wait for your meal. Ovvio organic teas and Princess Pantry jams/relishes to browse through plus a general sticky beak around the high ceiling open plan property. My scones arrive times three – nice – and are homemade, fresh and creamy. The waitress tells me the jam is Granny Smith apple and strawberry but I would never have picked it. The cream is freshly whipped, and thick enough but melts in the morning heat and girlie conversation.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: A small selection of organic loose-leaf teas by Ovvio served in a small pot

Price: $$

Overall: A tucked away secret slice of history.

Location: 378 Great North Rd, Abbotsford NSW 2046 Ph: 02 9712 5638 www.pratocafediner.com.au

Reviewed in November, 2014

The Art House

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Essentially, The Art House is a cafe in a shopping mall. It’s airy and bright and looks out on to a quiet street, so if you are allergic to shopping malls, you’re far enough away not to notice where you are. The impressive tea menu is by Tea Drop teas, but I’m surprised with the use of tea bags rather than loose-leaf tea. Nonetheless, my honeydew green tea is so divine that I want another pot. I do like a good presentation, and The Art House doesn’t disappoint with my Devonshire Tea arriving on a breadboard and the tea arriving on its own separate tray. The scones are fluffy, although quite flat, but notably good. The jam on the other hand is rather average and the fresh cream is too light. Surprising is the 10 per cent Sunday/Public Holiday surcharge. Seriously, it’s a 24/7 society these days, surely these wage costs can be absorbed in other areas of the business, like in the $4 plus tea bag tea?

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 20 plus varieties of Tea Drop tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: The perfect place to rest on a shopping trip or when catching a movie.

Location: 100/326 Camden Valley Way, Narellan NSW 2567 Ph: 02 4648 1511

Reviewed in November, 2014

Village Coffee Shop & Restaurant

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It’s nice to visit a cafe that retains a homely vibe rather than try to be like all the other cafes – hip and trendy. While most cafes are renovating and revamping, will those that remain as they have done when they first opened their doors decades before, become ‘the’ place to go? Village Coffee Shop & Restaurant is that sort of place. Without having a local’s knowledge, would I be wrong in saying that the whole family works in this cafe? It’s very popular, and as it fills I start to feel guilty for taking up a table for four. The scones look homemade, although when I take my first bite are a bit chewy, no doubt from the heating process, but if fresh, have lots of potential. The jam is, how can I say this – unusual. Sickly sweet and thick, reminding me of the jam consistency of my childhood when XL jam arrived in cans. The cream is my favourite; fresh and thickly whipped. So simple, yet so effective.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Eight classic varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Homely and simple.

Location: 168 Argyle St, Camden NSW 2570 Ph: 02 4655 6285
Reviewed in November, 2014

The Cafe at David Jones

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There’s something special about having a Devonshire Tea in a cafe nestled within a department store. It reminds me of the old days when department stores were decadent, long before the advent of online shopping. Although small compared to Sydney’s David Jones store, the smaller Wollongong store has The Cafe at David Jones which is situated on the overhead pedestrian walkway linking the department store to a shopping mall across the Crown Street Mall. The cafe is in a prime position, affording a pleasant view down the Mall towards the Tasman Sea that looks awfully inviting this day. The scones have potential, if they were fresh, and are the perfect size for a snack. The fresh cream is way too light (aerosol rather than whipped) and the jam, well, are in sachets.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A basic choice of loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Relaxing spot with a view.

Location: David Jones Wollongong, 169 Crown Street Mall, Wollongong NSW 2500 Ph: 02 4252 5555

Reviewed in November, 2014