Blank Canvas

DT@Blank Canvas-Batemans Bay

If you’re wandering along the esplanade skirting Batemans Bay’s Clyde River, sitting down with a scone and a cuppa is nigh on impossible. The locals point out that the area is popular with retirees, which, I might add are ‘supposedly’ scone lovers. If this assumption is true, then why are Devonshire Teas so elusive in the area? Luckily Blank Canvas comes to the party. Their tables spill out onto the esplanade and afford a prime view of the river and passers by. The better than average scones are quite robust, but why served cut in half? Personally, I like to do my own scone dividing. The average jam and super light bland cream (that’s likely from a cream canister) don’t do it justice either. Watch out for the hungry seagulls if sitting outside, as they are happy to share your meal.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A good selection of loose-leaf teas (especially herbal) served in Japanese iron teapot, that’s big on personality and lacking in tea.

Price: $$

Overall: Prime location overlooking the Clyde River.

Location: 7 Orient St, Batemans Bay NSW 2536 Ph: 02 4472 5016

Reviewed in June, 2017

Something’s Brewing

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After a new teapot? A quirky gift for a tea-loving friend? Or need to stock up on tea supplies? Something’s Brewing has all this and more. The more includes coffee beans, hot chocolate, Maxwell’s Treats jams and spreads, and every kind of tea accessory you can think of. And did I mention the spoilt-for-choice specialty tea selection? The latest addition to the business is the adjoining tea room. A spacious area where you can sip one of those teas you’re hankering to try accompanied with fresh scones. Plain, pumpkin and gluten-free scones are on offer, as well as a ‘scone of the week’. The scones are just going into the oven when I arrive, so my ‘scone of the week’, which is sultana, and traditional plain are super fresh. Crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, these scones are made using the Country Women’s Association (CWA) recipe. When it comes to choosing a spread, it’s a difficult choice. Maxwell Treats in Berry supplies the strawberry, blackberry and three berry jam, sweet orange marmalade, passionfruit and lemon butter. I can’t resist the lemon butter, and I get plenty of it. The same goes with the cream. The cream is thickly whipped and blended with vanilla bean and a touch of icing sugar, and is not quite Chantilly cream. To say the portions are ‘generous’ is an understatement! Please note, although gluten-free scones are available, they are not baked daily, and the place is closed on Tuesdays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: Choose from over 50 varieties of loose-leaf teas (sold in the adjoining tea shop) and served in a vintage teapot. Today it’s chilly out so my cute teapot is dressed in a smashing tea cosy.

Price: $$

Overall: A tea room that does the whole DT shebang beautifully.

Location: Shop 9, 23 Wason St, The Chambers, Milton NSW 2538 Ph: 02 4455 6996
somethingsbrewing.com.au

Reviewed in June, 2017

Hardy’s Bistro

DT@Hardys Bistro-Hardys Bay

Killcare is a little bit posh, and on approach, Hardy’s Bistro might confirm observations. However, pull up a chair at this sprawling establishment and it’s all friendly service and well-priced fare. The beautiful heritage building overlooks the Hardy’s Bay Reserve and the wharf, and may have been the general store in its heyday. It certainly has that vibe, and feels like the village hub, with all outside tables in the sun taken, and most of the large indoor dining area much the same. There are lots of yummy treats, including a Devonshire Tea. The scones crumble as I tear them apart, and are textured and more cake-like than light and fluffy. They are still better than most, and the rich double dollop cream and fruity raspberry jam are a bonus. Really, how hard is it to serve quality jam and cream? The small coffee cup is annoying as I dislike drinking tea from a thick cup with a tiny handle – it’s just not right!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic choice of loose-leaf teas and a few random interesting ones, served in a tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A divine spot across from the bay.

Location: Ph: 02 4360 1667 hardysbistro.com.au

Reviewed in May, 2017

Ruby’s Cafe and Books

DT@Ruby's Cafe & Books-Umina Beach#

I can’t describe the beach at Umina Beach. If there is one, I don’t see it, as I’m too busy sniffing out scones in the main shopping strip. I stumble across Ruby’s Cafe & Books, and the library filled with second-hand books keeps me occupied for far too long. There are a few cabinets with collectibles, but it’s definitely the books that take centre stage here. Large tables are set amongst the shelves of books; perfect for a book club meet or for those who want to spread out. Cosy arm chairs and tables for two are at the front of the cafe, as well as some outdoor settings. There are both plain or date scones, and I try the plain. I think, when fresh, the scone might be lovely, but it has been heated in the microwave for far too long and it’s chewy. The jam and cream are served on Chinese soup spoons – cute. The scone is large, and there isn’t enough of the condiments to go around. Maybe that’s a good thing as the jam is sickly sweet and the highly aerated cream is super-super light. The best of the experience is the tea-cup – I am smitten!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3

Tea: A basic range of loose-leaf teas served in a tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: The cutest cafe on the strip.

Location: 322 West St, Umina Beach NSW 2257 Ph: 02 4342 9657

Reviewed in May, 2017

Killcare Kiosk

DT@Killcare Kiosk-Killcare Beach#

It’s almost winter and Killcare Beach looks inviting. The Surf Life Saving Club, backed by towering cliffs, looks out to the length of the beach and the rock pool out front. The Killcare Kiosk located at ground level in the Surf Club building is quite sophisticated and serves more than hot chips and chiko rolls. I’m sure it’s a different story in summer, but by lunchtime, the deck is shaded and cool, so the sunny lawns are where the action is.  The specials board says they have scones and luckily I nab the last scone. It arrives already dressed with a thin layer of jam and a huge dollop of slightly sweet and thickly whipped cream. There is so little jam that I can barely taste it, or is it that there’s so much cream? No doubt fresh this morning (?), my small scone is a bit hard in the centre and slightly dry. It’s not a great synopsis, but overall it’s a great value for money DT, and the scone is far better than your average scone.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small selection of Twining tea bags, and a few varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: The location and proximity to the lawn, beach and rock pool.

Location: Killcare Surf Life Saving Club, 81 Beach Dr, Killcare NSW 2257
Ph: 02 4360 1330

Reviewed in May, 2017

Cafe at the Gallery

DT@Cafe at the Gallery -NSW Art Gallery#

Whether visiting the Art Gallery of NSW’s vast and varied collection or one of the many constantly changing exhibitions, you could say that there is something for everyone here. Although a constant flow of visitors pass through the doors, the hushed tones akin to library visits make this a pleasant escape from city streets. Feeling peckish? Then head down to the Cafe at the Gallery on level one, which is one of two eateries at the gallery. A large light-filled cafe with an outdoor dining space, the hubbub from the diners feels loud and hectic after the semi-silent crowds in the galleries. Scones are served singularly. My scone is large; soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. It’s served with chilled whipped cream alongside standard strawberry jam – delicious! Cafe on Gallery is open late for Art After Hours on Wednesdays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: A superb art collection matched with an inviting cafe.

Location: Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9225 1700 artgallery.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed in May, 2017

The Shot Tower Tea Rooms

DT@The Shot Tower Tea Rooms-Tacooma#3

Take the 259 steps to the top of the sandstone Shot Tower for superb views across the Derwent River, and a completion sticker on your return. Built in 1870 for the production of award-winning lead shots for pistols, it is one of only three remaining shot towers in Australia. The museum at the base of the 48-metre tall tower brings you up to speed with all of this, as well as the production process of the pellets. Molten lead was dropped from top to bottom of the hollow tower and its rapid descent and cooling roughly shaped it into pellets. Interesting. Below the museum is the warm and cosy tea room, where you can sit and ponder all of this over a Devonshire Tea. The scones come at room temperature, and for me, this isn’t ideal, but each to his own. The scones have a creamy texture, but if only they had a bit of heat! The raspberry jam is an average commercial type, but the cream is a stand out – thick and rich. It’s on the old road heading south of Hobart, and is well worth the diversion.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic selection of loose-leaf teas served in a small tea cosy covered teapot with extra hot water on the side.

Price: $$

Overall: A blend of history, sensational views (weather permitting), and a cosy tea room.

Location: Channel Hwy, Taroona TAS 7053 Ph: 03 62278885 taroona.tas.au

Reviewed in May, 2017