Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Cafe

DT@Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Cafe-Katoomba#

Opened just over a year ago, the bright and modern Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is just off the main street of Katoomba and affords great views out towards the Jamison Valley. Combining the Katoomba library, Blue Mountains City Art Gallery and World Heritage Exhibition, it also has a well-stocked gallery gift shop, and a busy cafe that’ll keep you cool as a cucumber on hot summer days and warm as toast during winter. I call before visiting to check whether they serve scones and am told that they are serving them at the moment while the vintage exhibition is on, so best to check. The scones are displayed on top of the counter and are described as house made scones served with raspberry coulis and whipped cream. They definitely taste like they are homemade and fresh, although they do arrive without being heated up (even a little). The raspberry coulis is more canned raspberry jam (a reminder of my childhood) and the cream is freshly whipped. Overall, thoroughly enjoyable! Sit in or outdoors.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Six choices of Blue Mountains loose-leaf tea served in a funky infuser and a small amount of extra hot water.

Price: $$

Overall: Also worth a visit for the gift shop, views and exhibitions.

Location: 30 Parke St, Katoomba NSW 2780 Ph: 02 4780 5410 www.bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au
Reviewed in December, 2013

Watsons Bay Tea Gardens Cafe


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Sharing the corner waterfront property with the public library, the Watsons Bay Tea Gardens is a lovely relaxed cafe just that little bit further away from the ferry wharf in the quieter direction. Opposite the free public bathing pool, the busy garden cafe offers the same million-dollar Sydney city views as the other eateries in Watsons Bay, with the added bonus of the ease of popping over for a quick swim, or maybe grabbing a book from the onsite library. The scones are okay. I don’t see any in the cake cabinet and they definitely aren’t fresh out of the oven, but more likely heated up in a microwave. The jam is the stock-standard variety, and will do, and the cream is freshly whipped. While you’re there, take a walk to Camp Cove for a swim and further along the path to South Head. Also check out the walking path past The Gap and to Vaucluse Lighthouse – magic.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few choices of loose-leaf teas served in a plunger pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Simple cafe with killer views.

Location: 8 Marine Pde, Watsons Bay NSW 2030 Ph: 02 9337 6733 www.teagardenscafe.com
Reviewed in December, 2013

 

Dunbar House

DT@Dunbar House-Watsons Bay#

On a sunny summer’s day, Watson Bay is absolutely gorgeous and feels a million miles from the traffic congestion that I had to tackle to get here. It’s only when you look west towards the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline that you are reminded that indeed, this is Sydney. Perched on Sydney’s south head, Watsons Bay is a magnate for day-trippers from all over the globe. It has the best of both worlds; dramatic ocean views from the cliff tops over the infamous Gap, and the more serene vista of boats bobbing in calm harbour waters – either way, you’re spoilt for choice. For elegance you can’t miss the sophisticated Dunbar House that commands the southern edge of Robertson Park and has views over the bay and the city poking up in the distance. Luckily we arrive mid-morning on a weekday, park easily and nab a table on the verandah. Impressive crockery arrives, and my friend is audibly chuffed with her cute cup and saucer as well as the classy silver teapots. The plain and sultana scones are straight out of the oven and are steamy and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. We can’t place the rich, fruity but tart jam. Thinking it may be plum; we’re told it is made-on-the-premises strawberry. I like it, none of the sweet syrupy synthetic stuff for me! The double thick cream pairs nicely with the ensemble, and I love the jam and cream cups.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good selection of quality loose-leaf teas served in swanky teapots.

Price: $$$

Overall: Superb! It ticks all the right boxes.

Location: 9 Marine Pde, Watsons Bay NSW 2030 Ph: 02 9337 126 www.dunbarhouse.com.au
Reviewed in December, 2013

The Cook’s Garden

DT@The Cooks Garden-North Turramurra#3
A visit to Sydney’s leafy suburb of North Turramurra is as refreshing as taking a trip to the country. Pop down to Bobbin Head National Park, breathe in the fresh air and immerse yourself in nature on the edge of one of the Hawkesburys sensational waterways. It’s the perfect secret Sydney spot to revive, and on your way out it’s an easy stop at The Cook’s Garden restaurant/cafe/bar in the quaint North Turramurra suburb. We arrive just as lunch is winding up, which to me is the perfect time for afternoon tea, and we’re hustled towards the bar – not a particularly quaint spot for a family gathering with your 80-year old mother. The dining room looks perfectly fine but the staff want to set up for dinner, and by chance we see the garden out back and invite ourselves to it. The garden is lovely and private and we discover is full of edible plants and herbs when we spy a chef collecting bay leaves. I think it’s easy to slip through the cracks here if you arrive between main meals, so don’t expect to be waited on, order at the bar (even if you are in the garden), which is out of sight. All that is forgotten when the scones arrive. My cup and teapot could use a polish but the scones are fresh and perfectly baked: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with no nasty aftertaste. The Drunken Sailor mixed berry jam is a hit with the group who aren’t fans of the sickly sweet cheaper varieties and the double thick cream is a nice finish.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection (six) of teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: It feels a long way from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Location: 272 Bobbin Head Rd, North Turramurra NSW 2074 Ph: 02 9144 5086 www.thecooksgarden.com.au
Reviewed in December, 2013

Sublime Point Cafe

DT@Sublime Point Cafe -Wollongong#3

When you drive up to Sublime Point, the first thing you notice is the view. Sprawled out 416m below are Wollongong’s northern beaches and as far as the eye can see both north and south along the coast and on a clear day, views from the escarpment don’t get better than this. Walk up or down the 850m track, depending on how energetic you feel, as it’s one of the few walks that link the coastal foothills and the plateau. I am told Sublime Point Cafe re-opened about nine months ago, and I’m glad it did because what a place to dine?  Open from Wednesday through to Sunday, the views speak for themselves attracting the crowds on weekends, especially in good weather. I hit the tail end of lunch where several large tables are celebrating, so I have a bit of a wait for my scones. Considering the location, overall the Devonshire Tea is pretty average; ordinary jam (whereby I ask for a second spoonful), cake-like and slightly crumbly scones, and only the whipped cream gets any merit. The staff is very friendly and welcoming, a big plus.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of Madura teabags served in a sweet little teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Go for the spectacular views.

Location: Sublime Point Lookout, Bulli Tops NSW 2516 Ph: 02 4267 1855 www.sublimepoint.com.au
Reviewed in December, 2013

Bib & Bub Tea Room

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Nutcote, the former harbourside home of children’s author and illustrator May Gibbs of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie fame, is tucked away in an unassuming Neutral Bay street surrounded by towering apartment blocks of varying eras. The sliver of waterside property has a gorgeous garden and for nine dollars you can watch a 20-minute video and take a tour of the bungalow. The whole place feels otherworldly and it’s hard to believe you are in spitting distance of the city. I must admit, I’ve lived in the area for more than 13 years, and this is the first time I have visited Nutcote and primarily it’s for the Bib & Bub Tea Room. Run by volunteers, Nutcote is only open from Wednesday to Sunday, and at this stage the Tea Room only manages to serve tea, scones and cake on a Wednesday and Thursday due to a volunteer shortage. The setting is the drawcard and the scones, lack the freshness you’d expect at a volunteer run tearoom. The cream is thickly whipped but the jam is below average. Nonetheless, it’s a superb place to hide out away from the madding Sydney crowds and don’t forget to pick up some great gifts in the little shop at the entrance.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small variety of teabags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A hidden gem.

Location: 5 Wallaringa Ave, Neutral Bay NSW 2089 Ph: 02 9953 4453 www.nutcote.org
Reviewed in December, 2013