Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler Devonshire Tea Cruise

DT@Nepean Belle DT Cruise - Penrith

Although we still have a couple of minutes to spare, Captain Chris is keen to set the Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler on course and get The Devonshire Tea Cruise in motion. Launched in 1982, the iconic paddlewheeler has been plying the Nepean River, showing off the steep cliffs of the Nepean Gorge and the wilderness of the Lower Blue Mountains National Park for the past 35 years. Decked out in polished cedar and teak, the interior feels undeniably masculine, while the exterior and churning paddlewheels feels as though I should be in America’s deep south. Offering The Devonshire Tea, lunch, and dinner cruises; the friendly and capable crew make us feel at home. Pretty soon after we cast off and head upriver, we are served our scone. Already dressed with chilled firm Chantilly cream and a better-than-most jam, the scone is freshly baked and served in true British fashion – at room temperature. It’s delicious, and if you skipped breakfast, you’d probably want another. The mint chocolates are a nice touch too. There are no set dates for this particular cruise, so check the website for sailings.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: Pre-brewed loose-leaf tea poured at the bar and served in a cup. Or alternatively, there’s a choice of Twining tea bags.

Price: $$$$

Overall: It’s not all about the scones – it’s a beautiful river, and a lovely way to enjoy it.

Location: Jetty at Tench Reserve, Tench Ave, Jamisontown NSW 2750
Ph: 02 4733 1274 nepeanbelle.com.au

Reviewed in July, 2017

My Little Cupcake Tea Room

DT@My Little Cupcake Tearoom

You might say that a Tea Room with a name pertaining to cupcakes can be a little deceiving if you are on the lookout for scones. Don’t let the name dissuade you from stopping by, as there is lots of goodies on offer as well as said cupcakes. Decked out in pastel hues, the tea room is very pretty and unmistakably feminine – and really, it’s how we scone eaters like it. From the collection of souvenir spoons used throughout the spread, the tea cosies and bone China teaware to the floral napkins, it’s the small touches that impress me. Everything looks so lovely that I don’t want to disturb the presentation perfection. The creamy textured scones are lightly dusted with icing sugar and are the ideal size for a light morning or afternoon tea. With thickly whipped cream paired with a well-baked scone, it’s easy to ignore the stock standard quality jam. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small selection of teabags served in tea cosy covered teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pretty female bolthole.

Location: 62 Ben Boyd Rd, Neutral Bay NSW 2089 Ph: 02 9909 3908 

Reviewed in July, 2017

Peppercorn Cafe

DT@Peppercorn Cafe-Mulgoa#

The Peppercorn Cafe is strategically positioned on Mulgoa road, making it super easy to pull over, park up and dine. Located just south of the village shopping centre, the cute timber house has a lovely wrap around verandah, which is perfect for balmy days. If you like to hear what your dining companion has to say, opt for the verandah; the timber floors indoors aren’t great for acoustics. It’s a shame as I am fond of properties like this that have soul and lived a life. After a quick peruse of the art adorning the walls, we head outside. The scones are on the chewy side, which I can only put down to being in the microwave for longer than necessary. The strawberry jam is good enough, but the cream, although fresh, is on the light side.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small variety of Twinings tea bags served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Not the best spread – but if you are passing by.

Location: 1319 Mulgoa Rd, Mulgoa NSW 2745 Ph: 02 4773 9224

Reviewed in July, 2017

Essence Cafe

DT@Essence Cafe

Stockland Balgowlah feels posh. The shops seem to have been carefully chosen with discerning shoppers in mind, and unlike most shopping malls, it feels – relaxed. Essence Cafe, however, is on a busy thoroughfare. It’s the quickest way to Coles from the car park entrance, so while dining in the open-plan cafe you can’t miss the filled grocery trolleys pass by. There are plain and fruit scones and I try one of each. The menu says that they are ‘toasty’. Definitely not toasted (thank goodness), but warm and fairly crusty on the outside. The fruit scone is more flavoursome than the plain, and I would have passed on the plain if I had known. The plain scone is exactly that – plain, but it tastes bland. The menu says that the jam is ‘real’ fruit jam. Yes, that’s true, but essentially it is still a cheap commercial variety rather than a fruity homemade one, and there isn’t enough to go around. The super light cream is from a cream canister and doesn’t help matters. No doubt with better quality jam and cream, this could have been a different experience.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small selection of loose-leaf organic teas served in a mid-size teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant place for a quick break.

Location: Shop 2, Stockland Balgowlah, 197-215 Condamine St, Balgowlah NSW 2093
Ph: 0449 979 849 

Reviewed in July, 2017

Blue Gum Cafe

IMG_2897

Tradies Helensburgh is one of a cluster of clubs found in the southern reaches of Sydney. Quite small if compared to the other mega clubs, the poker machines are tucked away and the drinking and eating areas are light and bright and overlook Helensburgh’s sports fields. Blue Gum Cafe inhabits a quiet corner and is semi-partitioned off from the rest of the place. It looks as though it has been refurbished, as everything is fresh and new. Initially I have the place to myself, and can’t decide whether to stay indoors or sit out on the deck, or even on the lawn. At first sight the large scone looks more bread roll-like, but is actually light and fluffy. It’s served with average strawberry jam and super light cream, which is so light that it dissolves before my eyes. The presentation is impressive, with the cast iron teapot and the breadboard server. As with most clubs, non-members pay a dollar or so extra for items.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3

Tea: A variety of teabags served in a Tetsubin, a Japanese cast iron kettle.

Price: $$

Overall: Light and bright, and not bad for a club cafe.

Location: 24 Boomerang St, Helensburgh NSW 2508 Ph: 02 4294 1122 

Reviewed in July, 2017

Lime Leaf Cafe

DT@Lime Leaf Cafe-Helensburgh

Sunrise Nursery on the outskirts of Helensburgh, rocks a very popular cafe. It’s pumping when I visit – although it is school holidays and around the corner from Symbio Wildlife Park. Surrounded by a vast range of potted plants that live in hope to be carted off to a new home, the Lime Leaf Cafe has a blackboard twice my height and a large counter laden with homemade treats. The cafe’s seating is spread out, literally; some tables are near the entrance of the nursery, some near the rows of plants, whilst the bulk of them are on a semi indoor deck. The scones have potential, but today mine are a bit tough on the bottom. The jam is average in quality but good enough, although there could be more of it. Bravo for the chilled thickly whipped cream; it really helps raise the standards in the quality stakes. The thick-rimmed coffee cup is annoying, especially since I am not drinking coffee.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: A semi-outdoor cafe in an offbeat nursery.

Location: Sunrise Nursery, 193 Princes Hwy, Helensburgh NSW 2508
Ph: 0432 733 771 sunrisenursery.com.au

Reviewed in July, 2017

Hargrave Cafe

DT@Hargrave Cafe-Stanwell Park#

When arriving at Hargrave Cafe, don’t get confused like I did, mistaking the two cafes sharing the same lacklustre building as one. When I finally double back to my initial investigation, I take in the cosy interiors of vintage furnishings and the promise of homemade goodies to come. Venture out on to the verandah, or sit at a table under an umbrella on the lawn, to hear whipbirds in the lush bush surrounding Stanwell Park. Usually there is a choice of plain or pumpkin scones, but today only pumpkin are in the freezer. I’m not sure when baking day is, but if you know when that is – visit. Fresh is best, hands down, but these pumpkin scones do okay, coming in moist and wholesome, if a little heavy. Keeping them on the small side helps as well. I can’t go past lemon butter if it’s available, and this is exceptional – smooth and creamy and not a skerrick of lemon rind. There’s also homemade strawberry jam for the traditionalists and thickly whipped cream. It’s always a pleasure sipping tea from a gorgeous teacup.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A range of tea bags including a few interesting choices served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Cosy with homemade goodies.

Location: 2/109 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Stanwell Park NSW 2508 Ph: 0435 599 443

Reviewed in July, 2017