Armory Wharf Cafe

DT@Armory Wharf Cafe-Sydney Olympic Park#3

Technically its still winter, but it’s hitting 28 degrees in Sydney’s west. Sydney Olympic Park is huge, I’d forgotten how huge as I haven’t driven around it for years. Skirting the edge of the Silverwater Correctional Complex, I head down to Blaxland River Park that hugs the edge of the Parramatta River and sits adjacent to the Newington Armory. If you visit on the weekend, you can explore the 100 or so heritage buildings that were part of the former Royal Australian Naval Armament Depot (RANAD) for a century. The Armory Wharf Cafe sits right on the river out the front of the main gatehouse. It’s built to blend in to the landscape rather than stand out, and the shade cover of the outdoor sitting area gives it a military feel. I order the scone, which is really two in one. It’s soft and dense, but a little rubbery on the outside. It’s served with a very small amount of ultra light cream and mixed berry compote. Personally, I would prefer it served with some rich jam as it is difficult to get the compote on to a piece of the ginormous scone. Every so often the Rivercat rumbles by, but never stops at the wharf, so check the timetable if you’re thinking of incorporating a visit with a ride on the Rivercat. Parents will love the nearby playground that’s filled with stuff to keep kids occupied for hours.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Several varieties of loose-leaf teas including a few unusual herbal blends.

Price: $$

Overall: Great spot by the Parramatta River.

Location: Blaxland Riverside Park, Jamieson St Newington NSW 2127 Ph: 02 9714 7513 www.armorywharfcafe.com
Reviewed in August, 2013

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Rockpool Retreat

DT@Rockpool Retreat-Norah Head#2

The sound of the muso’s mellow tunes wafts on the warm spring breeze, beckoning diners to come sit and listen. The Rockpool Retreat is a popular beachouse hangout serving diners in the open indoor area as well as having a kiosk counter for those not keen to leave the beach for long. Do a round trip walk from the tidal rock pool along the coast to Norah Head lighthouse. Enjoy the glorious views towards Budgewoi in the north, before heading back down Bush Street to drop into the cafe. There’s a choice of plain or date scones, and you can order as many or as little as you like. My date scone doesn’t rate high in the taste stakes, but it’s not inedible either. My partner spies the raspberry jam being dished out of a bucket with a Monbulk label on it, which tastes far better than some of the bulk jams served in other cafes. The cream is extremely light, and if the weather were a few degrees warmer, it would probably have melted before reaching my scone.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A beachhouse style cafe conveniently located on the way to the lighthouse.

Location: 8 Bush St, Norah Head NSW 2263 Ph: 02 4397 4859 www.rockpoolretreat.com.au
Reviewed in August, 2013

 

Palacinki Cafe

DT@Palacinki Cafe - Ettalong Beach#2

Open on weekends and public holidays, the undercover Ettalong Markets is more a relaxed shopping complex than a market,as we know it. Selling all manner of things, there are several restaurants and cafes, a variety of vendors, plus a cinema. I see the blackboard advertising ‘Devonshire Teas’ and follow it over to a cafe that reminds me more of a kiosk, servicing tables in the middle of a courtyard. There are lots of sumptuous looking cakes in the cake cabinet and the large plain and date scones are stacked high on glass cake plates. The serving with tea or coffee is for one scone with either cream and jam or butter, and is inexpensive. It’s served on a styrofoam plate with a plastic knife and feels very disposable. In keeping with the theme, perhaps the cup and saucer should be disposable too! Unfortunately my date scone is microwaved far longer than necessary, losing it’s flavour. The cream is very light and the jam stock standard.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good choice of T2 teabags served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A good place to take a rest from shopping.

Location: Ettalong Markets, Ocean View Rd, Ettalong Beach NSW 2257 www.palacinkicafe.com
Reviewed in August, 2013

 

Hatters Tea House

DT@Hatters Tea House - Ettalong Beach#

For me, the clincher is the quirky decor at Hatters Tea House, and that’s before I even see the tea menu. More akin to Sydney’s Redfern or Surrey Hills, I find Ettalong Beach an odd place to have such a funky cafe. There are several areas groups can sprawl out in including a semi private room and a sunny outdoor courtyard. If you manage to get through browsing the twenty-two teas on the menu plus the extra sixteen sold in the cafe, you can then admire the surrounds; pressed metal walls, hat boxes, retro tea sets and fancified gumboots, it’s an eclectic mix of 1970s furnishings and vintage trimmings. You have to order at the counter but at the same time get to salivate over the goodies on display. I want to try the creme brulee cupcakes and the gluten-free chocolate brownies, but then I remember I am here for the scones. The scones, although small, are tasty and fresh and worth the hike to this corner of the Central Coast. The cream is light but freshly whipped and the blueberry on top is a nice touch. There’s a choice of raspberry or strawberry jam. The Devonshire Tea is served with either English Breakfast or Prince of Wales tea, but I drink neither of those and choose the Japanese Lime, which adds and extra 50c to my bill.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 22 loose-leaf teas on the menu and a further 16 on the shelf that you can buy.

Price: $$

Overall: A top choice for girlie get togethers.

Location: 281 Ocean View Rd, Ettalong Beach NSW 2257 Ph: 02 4344 5525 www.hattersteahouse.com.au


Reviewed in August, 2013

Taste Gourmet Pantry & Cafe

DT@Taste Gourmet Cafe & Pantry - East Gosford#

I’ve been meaning to try Taste Gourmet Pantry & Cafe for over a year now. The huge old-fashioned looking ‘Devonshire Tea’ sign painted on the side of the building the few times I have passed by unable but to stop, has been beckoning me. The cafe is pretty busy this Saturday morning, which is unfolding to be one of those perfect spring days at the end of winter. The doors are closed and I am as far away from the open kitchen as possible but the cooking smells of eggs and bacon is far too dominant in the closed space. The menu is quite extensive and I notice that the cafe says that they are big on homemade, local and sustainable food. My tea arrives, and it’s only three-quarters full. No biggie if I was at home near the kettle, but this smallish pot with a few tea leaves and hot water is costing me four dollars! The scones arrive looking perfect, like two small dinner rolls, but end up tasting a bit too sweet with an unpleasant aftertaste. The cream is sweet as well and very light. The jam is pretty standard, and although the cafe sells a big selection of specialty jams, I doubt this is one of them. If you need to stock up your pantry on herbs and spices, relishes and jams, coffee beans and a whole lot more, than this is the place.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: There are 11 types of loose-leaf teas including a couple of interesting herbal combinations.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant open plan cafe.

Location: 73 Victoria St, East Gosford NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4324 2130 www.tastegourmet.com.au
Reviewed in August, 2013

 

Crossroads Bar

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Tucked away high above Market Street in Sydney’s CBD, you’d be forgiven for not knowing where the Swissotel Sydney is. Pass through the easily missed door at street level and ride the escalator to the eighth floor and a whole big open hotel world awaits. The Crossroads Bar, in front of the hotel reception, is the main hub and acts as a bar and all day dining venue. It’s open and bright, helped by a sizeable chunk of floor to ceiling windows that overlook Market Street. The tables by the window are very popular and if you miss out on one of these there are also several intimate pods (the modern day booths) to sit at. It’s Monday afternoon and very busy with many customers enjoying High Tea, so I have a more than expected wait for both service and my scones. I can’t help but notice that my Devonshire Tea looks more Oriental than English and I am half expecting a set of chopsticks to be presented. The plain and sultana scones are both small, and exceptionally crusty on the outside with not much on the inside. There is also an aftertaste that reminds me of pancakes made from premixed batter. The jam is a little runny and the cream, said to be ‘Sydney organic honey cream’, although lovely, I can’t quite taste the difference to plain whipped cream.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A variety of Sir Thomas Lipton loose-leaf teas served in a heavy pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: A respite from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD.

Location: Swissotel Sydney, 68 Market St Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9238 8888
www.swissotel.com/hotels/sydney/
Reviewed in August, 2013

Wayzgoose Cafe

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I first visited Wayzgoose Cafe four years ago to try their infamous flower-pot scones, and I’m happy to say that today they’re still on the menu and as popular as ever. The 1950s vintage inspired cafe, booths and all, has a prime spot on the main drag in Leura’s busy shopping precinct and does well to offer something a bit different in a place oozing with cafes. Wayzgoose Cafe is housed in the former home of the Federal Printing Works which operated until 1980 when it was subsequently fitted out as a cafe. Its quirky name represents roots to the buildings printing past and to food, but I’ll leave it to you to read about the rest. The scone is baked and served in a mini ceramic flowerpot and is ginormous, but I reason it’s like eating two ‘classic’ scones. The scone is a bit heavy; my buddy saying it tastes quite floury. The berry jam is slightly runny and the cream errs on the light side, but it definitely deserves a five-out-of-five for its cool presentation and you’re crazy if you don’t give it a try – it really is something quirky.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good and interesting variety of loose-leaf teas.

Price: $$

Overall: A funky flair to the classic ‘Devonshire Tea.’

Location: 174 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780 Ph: 02 4784 1973 www.wayzgoosecafe.com.au
Reviewed in August, 2013