Eling Forest Estate Cafe

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Zooming down the Hume Highway you would be forgiven for not noticing Eling Forest Estate. Set on 180 acres in the Southern Highlands, the Estate, consisting of a vineyard, rolling hills and pretty gardens, is a popular wedding and function venue. The cellar door showcases a range of cool climate wines crafted on-site and the cafe is a lovely spot to take refuge from the rush of the highway – although there’s no escaping the rumble of the traffic. A heritage-listed cottage and homestead offer a variety of accommodation if you prefer to stay awhile. I have timed my arrival to coincide with the cafe’s opening time of 8am. My first concern is that I’m too early for scones However, I’m in luck as yesterdays’ scones sit on the counter (they don’t bake every day). I need not have worried, as the two small scones are so fluffy and creamy, they taste as though they were baked this morning. The generous serving of thick whipped cream is more than I need, but the fruit-dense mixed berry compote barely covers the scones. In fine weather, sit out on the verandah and be sure to drop by the cellar door for a tasting.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A decent range of loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: The perfect Hume Highway stop to take a break from the bitumen.

Location: Hume Hwy, New Berrima NSW 2577 Ph: 02 4878 9499 elingforest.com.au

Reviewed November, 2017

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Bees Knees Vintage Cafe

DT@Bees Knees Vintage Cafe-Hornsby

Situated on the quiet side of the tracks, Bees Knees Vintage Cafe is definitely a change from the usual franchise eateries found in the Westfield Shopping Mall. The 1970s beach umbrella and outdoor setting (indoors), sets the scene for the overall decor. Secondhand oversized lounge suites set around coffee tables are perfect for groups, while more intimate and sensible dining furniture caters for couples. For outdoors, choose from footpath dining, or the garden out the back, which by the way, does not look inviting in broad daylight. Another semi-separate lounge area sits between the main dining hall and the loo out the back, so there’s something for everyone. I spy the scones on a table of sweets, but it’s not a good sign when the scones are individually wrapped in gladwrap. There’s a date and a plain scone to choose from, so I go for the plain, even though neither look appealing. It’s hard to explain, but the buttery and cake-like ‘scone’ looks nothing like a scone should, and that’s before it’s microwaved to death. The skerrick of el cheapo jam, and sickly sweet synthetic cream from a can don’t help matters either. The whole combo is a disaster and not even the quirky presentation can save it.

Scones: teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A selection of tea bag teas served in a cute cup/teapot duo.

Price: $$

Overall: Funky concept, but steer clear of the scones.

Location: 14 Coronation St, Hornsby NSW 2077 Ph: 02 9482 8012

Reviewed November, 2017

Ingleside Bakery

DT@INgleside Bakery-Evandale#2

Wander the streets of this National Trust classified Georgian village that dates back to 1811 for a taste of Tasmanian history. Not only is this a pretty village but also many of the historic buildings remain well intact. Businesses have settled in nicely to heritage buildings, restoring and reviving them, much like the Ingleside Bakery. Housed in the old Evandale Council Chambers that was built in 1867, the property is quite a sight. The towering walls and sky-high ceilings are a drawcard, as is the pretty flower filled courtyard. The licensed bakery/cafe took over the premises in 1988, and uses some of its space as an art gallery, and sells local Tasmanian gifts and produce, wines and whiskey. In winter the open fire is a welcome, but in warmer weather the courtyard is the winner. I almost have a mild panic attack when I don’t see any scones on the counter or in the cake cabinet, as I’ve had this place on my ‘to-visit’ list for some time. Never fear as they are on the menu and are offered as either a full or half serve. I have high expectations as the bakery is impressive, but my scone tastes more like a sweet dinner roll. Not even the dusting of icing sugar can mask the taste of an inferior scone. There’s just enough jam and cream for the one scone, and I wonder whether you get more with the full serve? The rich raspberry jam is superb and goes excellently with the double thick cream. Be sure to have a wander around the village to appreciate a couple of hundred years of history.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small range of Art of Tea loose-leaf tea served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A gorgeous heritage building in a gorgeous heritage heavy town.

Location: 4 Russell St, Evandale TAS 7212 Ph: 03 6391 8682 evandaletasmania.com

Reviewed November, 2017

Bridestowe Cafe

DT@Bridestowe Lavender Estate#It’s truly amazing how versatile lavender is. Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Tassie’s northeast does amazing things with it. The Estate specialises in French lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, as it’s suitable for both perfume and culinary use. Check out the on site distillery and watch how pure lavender oil is produced. Farm tours are available or otherwise just hang out. To get to the cafe you must enter (and exit) via the gift shop, so shopperholics beware! I’m not sure whether it’s my imagination, but the range of edibles like lavender infused jams, teas and chocolates to teaware, toys and scented lavender pouches for sprucing up stale smelling drawers and cupboards, seem to emit a lavender hue. Once finally at the café, there’s a choice to sit in the large dining area or out on the much smaller verandah. The cafe menu is obviously ‘lavender themed’ – we’d be disappointed if it wasn’t! The lavender scones are the perfect size and are robust rather than creamy and fluffy. Todays’ jam is rhubarb and lavender jelly, which is smooth in texture and not particularly sweet – the perfect accompaniment to the scones. The double thick creams tops of this lovely spread. Make sure to wander around the property, especially between December to February when the lavender is in bloom.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A brilliant range of lavender infused loose-leaf teas served in a pot for one, two or three. The specialty touch is a nice touch and the teas are sold in the gift shop.

Price: $$

Overall: Can get busy as it’s on the tourist trail, but lovely all the same.

Location: Bridestowe Lavender Estate, 296 Gillespies Rd, Nabowla TAS 7260
Ph: 03 6352 8182 bridestowelavender.com.au

Reviewed October, 2017

St Helens Books

 

DT@St Helen's Books-St Helens#2Second hand bookstores are becoming few and far between, so its surprising to find one in the back streets of St Helens. The easily seen ‘blue house’ is stacked floor to ceiling with shelves of pre-loved reading material for all genres; it’s amazing what you can find. When the weather warms there is picnic table style benches on the front lawn, otherwise cosy on up amongst the books. There’s a cluster of timber tables and chairs, and when I was there a table of gentlemen were playing cards. I am told scones are baked on Saturdays, and are snap frozen for the rest of the week. It doesn’t sound appealing, right? But this is where I am wrong – the large, creamy and slightly crispy scone is exquisite! The scone is heated up in the oven rather than microwaved, which makes all of the difference. The jam is fruit rich homemade raspberry jam – it doesn’t get better than this. To top it off the fresh cream is thickly whipped, and there are generous portions of both the jam and cream.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A huge variety of different brand tea bags served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Quiet and cosy, it’s the quintessential Tassie hidey-hole for when the weather is too bad to be outdoors, which for this mainlander, is often!

Location: 15 Pendrigh Pl, St Helens TAS 7216 Ph: 03 6376 2811

Reviewed November, 2017

Gorge Kiosk

DT@The Basin Kiosk - Cataract Gorge Launceston#2

Only a 15-minute walk from Launceston’s city centre, Cataract Gorge is a patch of bushland, cliffs, and a 36-metre deep natural swimming hole fed by the Esk River. There’s so much to do, it’s hard to know where to start! In summer swim in the free 50-metre swimming pool, hike upriver to the ruins of the power station at Duck Reach or take a ride on the world’s longest single span chairlift. Explore the Cliff Grounds, a beautiful landscaped Victorian garden containing ferns and exotic plants and more peacocks than you can poke a stick at. Don’t forget a stroll along the 1940s built suspension bridge. Once that’s done, take a break at the Gorge Kiosk, attached to the Gorge Restaurant. It’s very much a kiosk, and to me, there’s something unappealing about paying the same money for food that is served on plastic plates. A Devonshire Tea deserves better – teaware thank you very much! The tough scones served at room temperature aren’t particularly appealing; they simply don’t taste good, and are more dry than moist. There are a couple of Yarra Valley jam sachets (a raspberry and a strawberry), and a massive dollop of thick cream that tastes more like Nestle reduced cream from a can, as opposed to double thick dollop cream.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A Twinings tea bag served in either a regular or large takeaway cup.

Price: $$

Overall: Enjoy kiosk food alongside a plethora of wandering peacocks.

Location: Gorge Restaurant, 74 Gorge Rd, Trevallyn TAS 7250 Ph: 03 6331 3330 launcestoncataractgorge.com.au

Reviewed October, 2017

Peter’s of Kensington

DT@Peter's of Kensington-Kensington

Peters of Kensington’s flagship store is oh so la-de-da! It reminds me of a paired back and very compact David Jones. It’s windowless like a casino, which means it’s very easy to lose track of time whilst wandering the floors and looking at stuff you don’t particularly need. The kitchenware department is very popular, and if you can’t find it here, then it probably doesn’t exist! Sharing the same floor of said kitchenware, the cafe is all subdued tones and clicking of cutlery, and sophisticated in a Harrods kind of way. There’s a very reasonable ‘scone special’ on the menu and means that scones at this cafe are a given. The scone isn’t bad, although it has spent 20 seconds too long in the microwave, therefore has a hint of ‘nuked’. The jam isn’t anything special but it’s better than average, and although the cream is fresh, it’s very light. Overall, I find the cafe quite endearing with a yesteryear vibe.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A range of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Classic old-school department store cafe.

Location:  Ph: 02 9662 1099 

Reviewed October, 2017