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: 

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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: 

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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

Tea’se Me Tea Emporium

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It’s quite exciting to be sitting in a tea shop in downtown Wollongong. It’s only a block from the main CBD shopping mall with its franchised eateries and retail outlets, but a world away from the shopping hub. More cafe than tea shop, even though the name says otherwise, the cafe is simple yet comfortable, and the Devonshire Tea of two scones and a pot of tea is a bargain. However, they say you pay for what you get, and in this instance it surely sways this way. I try both a plain and a date scone, which are both pleasant but rather more like commercially produced sweet bread rolls. The jam is the cheapest sachet variety (fine at a breakfast buffet…just), and the cream is light, aerated and sweet. The saving grace is the tea selection so expect a long tea menu to pour over. Teas can be purchased and are in no-nonsense packaging and well-priced, although the shelves are quite bare when I visit. Closed on Sundays.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: An extensive menu of loose-leaf teas to satisfy all palates served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: An alternative from the main shopping hub.

Location: Shop 3, Unit 3, 163 Keira St, Wollongong NSW 2500 Ph: 02 4225 0999

Reviewed in November, 2014

Vaucluse House Tearooms

DT@Vaucluse House Tearoom#
Some say that some things never change, however at the Vaucluse House Tearooms this is certainly not the case. My last visit was four years ago, and comparing the images of the Devonshire Teas is remarkable. What does remain the same is the lovely relaxing ambience of this exquisite property tucked away in Sydney’s exclusive eastern suburbs. The sun-dappled courtyard is a major drawcard at anytime of the day, but it’s a real shame that the scones aren’t up to scratch. Four years ago they scored an ‘average’, and today they don’t fair any better. They look great but are very dry. A couple of people in my party barely touch them, deeming them inedible. The three-berry jam is tasty but nothing exceptional and the clotted cream that saved this spread on my last visit has been replaced with double thick cream, or so it tastes like it. My experience with clotted cream has been very different. Surely discerning Brits would ask ‘where’s the clotted cream?’ that the menu clearly promises. Time your visit for a Friday or weekend, and take a tour of the historic Vaucluse House. Devonshire Teas are served until 12pm daily.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good selection of loose-leaf teas.

Price: $$$

Overall: A beautiful historic establishment in a leafy and gorgeous park.

Location: Wentworth Ave, Vaucluse NSW 2030 Ph: 02 9388 8188  www.hht.net.au/visiting/cafes/


Reviewed in November, 2014