Le Pain Quotidien

DT@Le Pain Quotidien-The Rocks#

Located in the former Rocks Police Station, the Belgium Bakery franchise, Le Pain Quotidien meaning ‘daily bread’, serves daily baked goodies and light café fare in what can only be described as an extraordinary setting. The front sandstone façade looks the same as it did when it was built in the early 1880s and throughout its operation as a police station until 1974. In 2009 the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority with help from some architects, swankified it to 2014 hipster standards thus transforming the premises into a prime restaurant location. What’s cool is that many of the prison’s original features have been preserved, such as the cells, which still have the metal cell doors and window grilles. It’s all glass, exposed brick and metal, and I love what they’ve done to the building. Le Pain Quotidien suits the property perfectly, although not rustic interiors like the business model’s philosophy dictates, nonetheless its a fitting combination of heritage and quirkiness that helps break through the sometimes sterile cardboard cut out franchise mould. I know this is not what you would call a ‘proper’ Devonshire Tea, but I can’t resist the property. This Guide is also a contemporary look at the collective that comprises a Devonshire Tea; scones, jam, cream and tea (any way you like it). However, in this Belgium knock up, there isn’t any cream, but ricotta cheese instead – sorry purists. There are wholemeal and fruit scones to choose from and I’d like to remind you that they are big. I order the fruit scone, and it is indeed fruity but heavy and dry; a typical rustic scone. I mention this to the waiter and he suggests that next time I ask it to be toasted, I’m sure the French, or maybe Belgium waiter, meant warmed! The jam is rich and fruity, and the ricotta cheese is light and smooth. It’s a delicate combination atop a hefty scone, but it works. Franchises are located in Sydney and globally in at least 16 other countries.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Tea: Le Pain Quotidien silk pyramid tea bags served with a pot of hot water and a drinking bowl.

Price: $$

Overall: A quirky space for a café, make sure you eat in one of the gaol cells.

Location: 127 George St, The Rocks, NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9252 3840
www.lepainquotidien.com

Reviewed May, 2015

Bluebottles Brasserie

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It’s a warm and sunny autumnal day in Woolgoolga, an easy 10-minute drive north of Coffs Harbour. I’m told by friends who have just moved to town, that apparently the Coffs Harbour region have the best overall weather in Australia; not too hot, not too cold, but just right! Today it feels perfect, glorious even. This is my first time in the town proper. My only past recollections of Woolgoolga are a roundabout, a statue of an elephant and an exotic looking temple. I am told they are still here, but you don’t see them since the recently opened section of the Pacific Highway, which bypasses that very roundabout. When I venture to the beach and a look around town I am surprised at how populated and bustling it is. A Woolworths is about to open and cafes are doing a roaring trade, and Bluebottles Brasserie is one of them. My scone arrives on a breadboard, which is very sophisticated. The scone is on the dry side so I am appreciative of the generous amount of jam and cream to mask its averageness. The thick jam and whipped cream, that could be a bit thicker, isn’t bad and it’s a fine option just to soak up the climate. Woolgoolga is definitely worth a stop if you need a break from the Pacific Highway and to get away from the madness of Coffs.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant café in a chilled out mid-coast town.

Location: 1/53 Beach St, Woolgoolga NSW 2456 Ph: 02 6654 1962
www.bluebottlesbrasserie.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

Tedder & Woodroffe Lounge & Dining

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Main Beach, near Surfers Paradise, has come a long way since I briefly lived in the area in 1990. The high-rise interspersed with a dwindling number of shacks that stubbornly refuse to sell the land from underneath them to developers, is the same. However, the bustling strip of restaurants and bars has definitely grown 10 fold and then some. Tedder & Woodroffe Lounge & Dining named for its location on the corner of the two cross streets bearing the same names is not the kind of place you expect to find a Devonshire Tea on the menu. But there it is in black and white, “Fresh scones with jam and fluffy cream.” Fluffy cream? That’s certainly a novel way of describing cream. The cream is anything but fluffy, more akin to double thick, which is mighty fine by me. There’s nothing fancy about the jam, but I do like the way the Devonshire Tea is presented; the sprig of mint and the fresh strawberry with a dusting of icing sugar makes for a pretty afternoon tea. The scones however, both of markedly variable sizes, are dry and rather unappealing as far as scones go.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few choices of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A lovely open and airy venue for afternoon tea.

Location: 1/19-21 Tedder Ave, Main Beach QLD 4217 Ph: 07 5532 4539
www.tedderandwoodroffe.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

City Extra

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Franchise and 24/7 café/restaurants in highly trafficked tourist areas in major cities are not the kind of places I have scored decent scones. So it is with very low expectations that I slide in to a seat at City Extra, Circular Quay. Fortunately it’s not overly busy this particular Saturday afternoon and we nab an outdoor table overlooking the busy Circular Quay thoroughfare filled with ferry commuters, and locals and visitors ambling along enjoying the winter sun and all that the busy hub offers. The inside booths and array of pancakes on the menu makes City Extra feel very American, and back when it opened in 1986, it did feel just that. I don’t expect to find scones on the menu, so I have never bothered to stop by, which is a shame as the scones are crispy and fresh out of the oven, no soggy microwaved scones here. They taste a bit salty to me, but my partner doesn’t pick it up. I do notice on the busy menu, it’s designed to look like a folded newspaper, that all items are made on the premises. Call me cynical, but I don’t always believe what I read. However, in the scone case, I think they are right! The jam is average, and the fresh cream is from a whipping siphon and is particularly light. But with scones this good, the jam and cream don’t spoil the spread. The Circular Quay venue has extended trading hours but City Extra Parramatta is open 24/7.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of Twining tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A handy location with extended trading hours right at Circular Quay.

Location: E4 East Podium Circular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9241 1422 www.cityextra.com.au

 

Reviewed May, 2015

Devon Pixies

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Tucked away from the main road on an unassuming block of land and in a building that once was a veterinary practice, Devon Pixies is one of those hidden gems that won’t disappoint. Pink and pretty, Devon Pixies is not decadent in a five-star hotel High Tea kind of way but instead fun and quirky. Hot pink plastic chalice-looking water cups sit on the tables along side fine bone China trios. A dish of pink and white marshmallows, although we leave untouched, adds to the indulgent experience. It’s not all fluff and pink feminine touches; the goodies are what keep visitors coming back. The scones are fluffy with a creamy texture and are accompanied with a homemade chocolate truffle. They are definitely more-ish, and if it weren’t for the list of cafes I plan on visiting, I would order more. The raspberry jam is thick and pairs nicely with the super thick dollop cream. Devon Pixies is set up to create a social vibe, with a hat stand loaded with hats and scarves for funny photo opportunities. It’s the perfect venue for a birthday, bridal or baby shower, or any event where the peeps love a good scone.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: A selection of T2 loose-leaf tea served in a pretty teapot to go with the dainty fine bone China trio set.

Price: $$

Overall: This is one place you don’t want to miss!

Location: 55 Quinzeh Creek Rd, Logan Village QLD 4207 Ph: 0449 285 277 www.devonpixies.com

Reviewed April, 2015

@ noah’s cafe

DT@ @Noah's Cafe-DFO Homebush#

DFOs aren’t what they used to be. These days they are no different from Westfield in the fact that they have become slick shopping malls, where you can often, but not always, snap up a bargain. DFO Homebush is much more user-friendly these days – the extra car parking helps, but the high-end shops are way beyond my budget. Although that section of the mall is lovely and quiet! Tucked away in a light and quiet corner (not in the high-end shopping area) is @ noah’s cafe. It’s not an in-your-face-eatery, like most there, which is a nice change. Weekends are hectic, so any quietish corner where you can catch your breath is welcome. The seating is ample and roomy and for natural light and glimpses to green pastures, sit in the outside area of the café. Surprisingly the scones are okay. I’m always dubious when at cafes in shopping malls, as you never do know how long the scones/cakes have been in the cabinet. They aren’t the homemade kind, but fresh and tasty enough if you have a scone craving. The let down is the less than average strawberry jam and the sweet and highly processed cream sprayed straight out of a can; disappointing.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of SereniTea tea bags served in a cool teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Tucked away far enough for a rest from the shopping circuit.

Location: DFO Homebush, 3-5 Underwood Rd, Homebush NSW 2140 Ph: 02 9748 9800
www.dfo.com.au/Homebush/

Reviewed May, 2015

Birdwing Cafe & Curios

DT@Bridwing Cafe & Curios-Tumbulgum#5

The House of Gabriel may tower over the few businesses in tiny Tumbulgum with its grandeur, but further down the road and still offering the same magnificent views of the Tweed River and beyond, the Birdwing Cafe & Curios does things its own quirky way. Slightly tucked away, look for the handful of tables, the cosy café in an old timber house has a real welcome and warmth to it. It’s so relaxing I want to doze off in one of their comfy chairs to the backdrop of classical music playing in the background. Check out the plaque marking the river levels of the 1954 floods on the front steps as you enter the café. The menu is loaded with homestyle dishes including the homemade scones. They’re a little burnt on the bottom and being heated up in the microwave has robbed my scone of any flavour. The raspberry jam is thick and firm, not bad for an average brand, and the cream is thickly whipped. Love the fine bone China trio set and tea strainer – very, la di da! Have a good look around before you leave, as there are all kinds of things in dusty corners for sale, including art, new and used books, and a mini nursery around the back – if you are after a souvenir pot plant or Buddha statue.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small range of Madura loose-leaf teas served in a generous teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A quirky and cosy vibe with sensational views across the Tweed River.

Location: 116 Riverside Dr, Tumbulgum NSW 2490 Ph: 02 6676 6048
www.birdwingcafeandcurios.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015