Cafe On Three

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Cafe On Three offers mall rats the best of both worlds. Firstly, if you need a break from the fluorescent lights, dine outdoors (or indoors) and breathe fresh air, and secondly, you don’t need to leave the confines of the mall to do so. Located on level 3 in David Jones in Westfields Hornsby, Cafe On Three is dangerously placed on the same floor as the kitchenware and teaware department. I say dangerously, because if you enjoy scones and tea, undoubtedly you might appreciate good quality teapots and pretty china cups and saucers, and everything that goes with them. After scones delicately dusted in icing sugar, served with chilled thickly whipped cream and average strawberry jam, who knows what could happen when you leave the cafe and walk amongst the likes of Wedgewood, Royal Albert, Maxwell & Williams, Cristina Rea, Salt & Pepper – need I go on?

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A great escape from the mall time warp.

Location: David Jones, Westfield Hornsby, Level 3, 236 Pacific Hwy, Hornsby NSW 2077
Ph: 02 9472 3700 davidjones.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2016

The Boathouse Palm Beach

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I’ve now been to all three The Boathouse restaurants on Sydney’s northern beaches. All are set in beautiful waterside locations, but Palm Beach is my favourite. Why? It’s virtually on The Pittwater and feels more like a boathouse than the others. Half of the seating looks over the Pittwater, and the other half is under shady umbrellas and trees in its own secluded courtyard out the front. If the sweeping views across to West Head National Park aren’t enough, continue down the jetty that runs alongside the building, and immerse yourself further in the Pittwater experience. The menu is the same – I love the consistency. The scones are crispy and slightly toasted, and these are already cut in half. The spread errs on the generous side, and if you aren’t too hungry is enough to share. The jam and cream are good enough – the jam is average and the fresh cream is on the light side – but there’s room for improvement, and the handful of fresh strawberries are always a welcome treat. Try a yoga class in the space upstairs that offers million-dollar views to help find your Zen. Sunday dining incurs a 10 per cent surcharge.

Scones: 

Jam:

Cream:

Tea: A basic selection of quality loose-leaf teas served in a Japanese style cast iron teapot.

Price: $$$

Overall: The location over Pittwater actually feels like a boathouse.

Location: Governor Phillip Park, Barrenjoey Beach, Palm Beach NSW 2108
Ph: 02 9974 5440 theboathousepb.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2016

 

City Extra Parramatta

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Just one of two City Extra outlets in Sydney, this one in Parramatta is subdued compared to the Circular Quay location. It’s virtually empty at lunchtime on Saturday. Located on the Church Street restaurant strip, City Extra is perfectly placed in the middle of the action and remains open 24/7 for late night munchies. The menu claims that all food is baked fresh on the premises daily, and that includes the scones. Really, how hard is it to bake scones to order? You don’t heat up pancakes? This spread is identical to the one I had in Circular Quay, which says something about City Extra’s consistency. The scones are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, and although they’re probably made from a commercial scone mix (I don’t know – just saying), the scones rank up there as some of the better one’s I’ve eaten. But what can make or break a Devonshire Tea worth eating is the quality of the jam and cream. Here the jam and the fresh light cream are adequate, but not a stand out feature. But bravo for the freshly baked scones!

Scones: 

Jam:

Cream: 

Tea: A basic selection of Twinings tea bags served in a standard tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: The ‘go to’ place for an after hours scone craving.

Location: 301 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150 Ph: 02 9633 1188
Reviewed in April, 2016

 

Dunes Kiosk Palm Beach

DT@Dunes Kiosk - Palm Beach
Pretty Governor Phillip Park is about as far as you can get your car north along Sydney’s shoreline. If you want to go further it is by foot up to Barrenjoey Head, the dominating feature of Palm Beach’s skyline. Palm Beach is the location for the television show, ‘Home and Away’s’ Summer Bay. Even the Surf Life Saving buggy has Summer Bay plastered across its bumper – just in case you didn’t know. Although I am grateful for all the wonderful Aussie talent that the show has turned out, I’m not a fan. Instead I’m here to absorb the posh and ‘I’m-still-in-Sydney-although-it-feels-like-I-am-a-million-miles-away’ vibe. Dunes Kiosk and Restaurant is in Governor Phillip Park just behind the ‘Summer Bay’ Surf Life Saving Club. It doesn’t have ocean views but is a sweet spot nonetheless. The Kiosk is attached to the pricey restaurant and has enough seating that’s either undercover, out on the grass (good for dogs), or in little cute beach booths. The scone is more bread roll than scone and is very ordinary. A shame a chef from next door can’t rustle up a batch of scones. The fresh cream is so light it almost dissolves mid-air and the single tiny sachet of jam is a joke for the size of the scone. I wish they would go easy on the cardboard; my tea doesn’t need two cups, especially since I am dining in. Their waste collection must be colossal!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of T2 pyramid teabags served in a paper takeaway cup.

Price: $$

Overall: Very disappointing quality but top points for the lovely location.

Location: 1193 Barrenjoey Rd, Palm Beach NSW 2108 Ph: 02 9974 3332
Reviewed in April, 2016

 

Tanwarra Lodge B&B Cafe

DT@Tanwarra Lodge B&B Cafe - Sofala#2
I arrive at Tanwarra Lodge B&B Cafe with Oscar, a blue cattle dog, which causes a ruckus as the resident hounds sense an intruder. Once the canine excitement dies down, I begin to enjoy the tranquil bush setting that envelope Tanwarra Lodge. I hate to say it, but it’s probably too quiet, as I the only one there, as it almost feels as though I am intruding. Although only a few minutes drive away from the historic mining village of Sofala, Tanwarra Lodge feels a world away from civilisation, and I can imagine a few nights at the B&B could revitalise tired city slickers. My Devonshire Tea arrives quickly and on a clever glass plate that seems specifically designed for such a spread. A generous dollop of thickly whipped fresh cream sits snugly beside plenty of ‘better-than-your-average’ strawberry jam. The scones are definitely homemade but are slightly chewy today – maybe they are frozen and reheated? They are also smaller than usual, and considering the amount of cream and jam served with them, it feels there should be at least three. The cafe is open from 5 – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9 – 9pm on weekends.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A tranquil bush setting, which feels a long way from anywhere.

Location:  Ph: 02 6337 7537 
Reviewed in February, 2016

 

 

Lily’s Pad Cafe

DT@Lily's Pad Cafe-Leura#4

First time visitors to Leura will feel overwhelmed by the vast number of eateries that, in the warmer months, spill out onto footpaths, into carparks, arcades and pretty gardens. To steer away from the usual tourist strip cafes is to discover some truly special gems that those not in the know, including me, might easily miss. Lily’s Pad Cafe is down a short walkway that leads from the Woolworth’s carpark, directly to the (now covered) outdoor seating area. Although I frequent the supermarket I have no idea that such a quaint cafe exists over the hedge from the bitumen carpark. Wedged between an apothecary and a hairdresser, the cafe has a relaxing vibe, and is away from the madness of Leura’s main drag. In addition to a vibrant and health driven menu are fresh housemade scones. They are slightly crisp on the outside with a soft fleshy middle, and are so lovely that I am happy to overlook the burnt bottom on one of them. The strawberry jam and tangy lemon curd are made on the premises, but both err on the runny side, and are more sauce than spread. The fresh cream could be a bit firmer, but considering it’s the middle of summer, it’s doing extremely well, and I am tempted to ask for a top up.

Scones: 

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Cream:

Tea: A good variety of black and herbal loose-leaf teas, served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A chilled cafe, tucked away from the tourist strip.

Location: 19 Grose St, Leura NSW 2780 Ph: 02 4784 1033 lilyspad.com.au
Reviewed in January, 2016

 

Bake, Table & Tea

DT@Bake, Table & Tea - Bathurst#2

While I was in Hill End over Christmas, I overheard someone mention a new cafe on George St in Bathurst. I had forgotten all about it, thinking it was just another ordinary cafe catering for the coffee crowd. So it was by chance that I stumble upon Bake, Table & Tea – the ‘bake’, ‘tea’ and large shop front arousing my interest. The shop is a treasure trove for bakers and tea lovers alike, choc-a-bloc full of baking necessities (and not), gift ideas, teapots and teaware, and a range of teas to fill the teapots. For Bathurst, it feels quite sophisticated, and bravo to that – about time! The open style cafe sits at the back of the shop, conveniently located next to the loose-leaf teas, just in case you want to purchase one of the 32 varieties from the menu. Although it’s after 4pm, my scones arrive oven fresh and have a smooth creamy taste with a crispy top, and are superb. The homemade strawberry jam is tarte and beautifully complimented by the Little Big Diary thick Chantilly style cream. The cream could be a bit thicker, but that’s just me. The scones are also served with the cafe’s own churned butter, but I skip it as it’s either one or the other me (butter or cream). My pot of tea is delivered with aplomb and set on a warming plate that transforms a pot of tea in to a creative endeavour. There’s an impressive list of teas, which can make choosing a chore, but the handy blurb on the back of the menu is helpful. My only gripe is the slow service; after ordering at the counter I had quite a wait just for my tea. Maybe I was unlucky? Good news for those with allergies as gluten free scones and sugar free jam are available upon request.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A healthy selection of around 32 loose-leaf teas by Harney & Sons, Larsen & Thompson, and The Organic Tea Project and arrives at the table and placed on a little tea warming stand.

Price: $$$

Overall: Simply superb and an escape from the ordinary.

Location: 2/76 George St, Bathurst NSW 2795 Ph: 02 6324 5422
 
Reviewed in February, 2016