The High Tea Garden

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The first thing I notice as I pass by the ‘pop up style’ cafe that is The High Tea Garden, are the beautiful trios of cups, saucers and cake plates, just waiting to be used. I’m a sucker for feminine tea ware and am known to scour vintage shops just to admire them, so this place is right up my alley. The dainty floral mishmash of Royal Albert tea ware is a nice touch as is the three-tiered cake plate my scones arrive on. Don’t be discouraged by the cafe name as yes, High Teas are at the top of their menu, but sandwiches, salads and cake/tea combinations as well as Devonshire Teas are served. The pastry chef, who has incidentally baked my scones this morning in the cubbyhole that is the cafe’s nucleus, serves the few patrons in the cafe this morning. My scones have that homemade look but come already sliced, which is annoying, as I like to tear mine apart. The scones are by no means the best I’ve tried, they’re rather salty and I would love to have them slightly warmed to serve. The sliced strawberries lurking around on the tiers as well as one in the middle of the chilled thickly whipped cream are a bonus. For all the presentation whooha, the ordinary jam is a let down, even a higher quality commercial one would be better. Considering the size of the scones, the jam and cream portions could be a bit more generous, I had to go back and ask for more jam and used my cream sparingly. At $15, it’s a little bit pricey because at the end of the day you’re in the middle of a shopping mall after all!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A vast selection (26) Tea Centre loose-leaf teas served in gorgeous Royal Albert teapots.

Price: $$$

Overall: Impressive presentation that creates a pretty tea room ambience.

Location: Chatswood Chase, Level 1, 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW 2067  Ph: 02 9419 7755


Reviewed March, 2014

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The Tea Salon

DT@The Tea Salon-Sydney#3

Stroll past high-end designer stores on level four of the swanky Westfield Sydney and you’ll stumble upon The Tea Salon. It’s all very pink and white, with splashes of purple and green creating a truly feminine feel. There’s quite a menu; 10 scone varieties, both sweet and savoury, including a gluten-free option. If a glass of Moet is more your thing then there’s a selection of champagne and other alcoholic beverages to choose from. This is my second visit in two years. During my first visit I tried a cinnamon/raisin scone served with strawberry jam and thick cream, however it was dry with a nasty after taste. My friend ordered the date/orange scone, served with thick cream and a burnt marmalade jam, and wasn’t impressed for much the same reasons as myself. Normally I’m not a fan of marmalade but I actually liked this, as it wasn’t too ‘breakfast marmalade-ish’. Due to recent positive scone reports I decided on a second visit, but this time to taste the plain scones. Not so plain as I taste a hint of lemon or orange zest. The strawberry jam isn’t bad and the double thick cream gives it a fine finish. Love the dainty teacups and teapots and if any of the flavoured scones takes your fancy, you can buy take home packs.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas including a few herbal varieties.

Price: $$$

Overall: A chick magnate kinda place.

Location: Westfield Sydney, Level 4 (Designer Gallery), Cnr Pitt St Mall & Market St, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9357 4488 www.theteasalon.com.au


Reviewed in March, 2014

Kirribilli Village Cafe & Ristorante

DT@Kirribilli Village Cafe & Ristorante#

Known for its stunning harbour views, the Prime Minister’s Sydney digs, Luna Park and the best public swimming pool in Sydney (although the latter two are in Milson’s Point), my favourite Sydney suburb, Kirribilli, just got a little bit better. I have discovered a cafe where you can snack on either plain or date scones. The Kirribilli Village Cafe & Ristorante has been a firm fixture as eateries have continued to multiply over the past several years. Unpretentious and welcoming, Kirribilli maintains its village vibe whilst visitors traipse through on their way to snap spectacular night views of the city in lights or to be entertained at Luna Park. But if it’s scones you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. I only try the plain scones and for some odd reason (my friend has the same), both scones are – different. Both are too sweet, but one is denser like damper and the other is fluffy, more like you expect a scone to be. No biggie, but we think it’s weird. As the scones are quite sweet, the jam tastes even sweeter but is better than most. The cream is impressive, not quite, but it’s as good as clotted as you’re going to get Down Under. The monthly Kirribilli Market (held on the last Saturday of the month) is well worth a visit.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few loose-leaf tea choices and several tea bag choices.

Price: $$

Overall: The corner location is THE place to be to people watch.

Location: Shop 1/3 Broughton St, Kirribilli NSW 2061 Ph: 02 9954 6015


Reviewed March, 2014

2Blondes Cafe

DT@2Blondes Cafe - Springwood#

I know it sounds strange, like something from an American mid-west movie, but I swear the people of Springwood are a happy bunch. This is only the second time I have bothered to divert the two minutes it takes from the Great Western Highway to this lower Blue Mountain hub, and I am pleasantly surprised. It feels nothing like the upper mountain towns, which are equally part tourist and part local, and nothing like from the plains of Sydney down the road, well at least not where I live on the lower north shore. It’s hard to describe, but I feel such a happy vibe that it feels kind of weird for me, everybody seems to be ‘smelling the roses’ rather than rushing from appointment to appointment. There are quite a few cafes in town, but it’s best to find them on foot as they are tucked away, like 2Blondes Cafe. On a drive by, I would have missed it as Michel’s Patisserie overshadows the cafe. I take a seat outside in the arcade, although there are a few tables inside, so I can enjoy the warmth. The scones aren’t on the menu, nor are they on a cake stand, and it’s just by chance that I notice ‘scones’ scribbled on the blackboard. They arrive slightly soggy on the bottom (I think they are from the freezer) but taste creamy and are soft and made of good quality products. The strawberry jam, a bit more please would be nice, has junks of real fruit and the huge pot of thickly whipped cream is superb!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas served in a decent-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Tucked away cafe in a friendly mountain town.

Location: Shop 3/170 Macquarie Rd, Springwood NSW 2777 Ph: 02 4751 3202
Reviewed March, 2014

Pie In The Sky

DT@Pie in the Sky-Cowan#2

The Pie in the Sky pie shop in Cowan, on the old windy road to Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River was a petrol station in its former life and has all the tell-tale signs that it’s a favourite with motorbike riders. Maybe it’s the cafe’s convenient location for day-trippers? Perhaps the stunning view? Or is it the carpark that is often brimming with thousands of dollars worth of motorbikes? Then it has to be the extensive menu of hearty pies that the place is famous for, doesn’t it? Whatever it is, they must be doing something right as it’s tucked away for only those in the know to see. I stumble upon it on my way down to Brooklyn in the pouring rain, and needless to say it’s quiet. Amongst the long list of pies, I notice the scones and chuckle as I imagine a burly bloke in leather tucking into a plate. If only my boyfriend could see it, then he might stop the constant referencing to his privates transforming into women’s bits. You get the picture. The whole Devonshire Tea affair is average, with neither the scones nor the jam and cream making any impression with most of the crumbly scones staying untouched. Bravo for the copious amounts of cream and jam, there are no reasons we should be held back with the toppings!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Twinnings tea bags served in a good-sized pot

Price: $$

Overall: A handy rest stop with lots of room to move enroute to the Hawkesbury River.

Location: 1296 Pacific Hwy, Cowan NSW 2081 Ph: 02 9985 7018 www.pieintheskycowan.com.au
Reviewed February, 2014

Wellspring Expresso

DT@Wellspring Cafe-Berowra

Sometimes Wellspring Expresso can be mistaken for a bike shop going by the numbers of bikes racked up in front and the large groups of Lycra clad folk sipping coffees. The group I see are even sponsored by the cafe so they fit right in with jerseys that match the signage. I first noticed the cafe on a drive down to Berowra Waters and make a special trip this time, taking a diversion from the freeway to the original Pacific Highway. I call before I arrive, just to make sure the blackboard sign advertising scones last time wasn’t a one-off. “They’re in the oven,” I’m told. Although the scones are ‘just out of the oven’ they don’t particulary taste like it, and should taste better than what they do, coming in just above average. The jam and cream are sub standard, the jam being very sweet and lacking any inkling of fruit and the cream too light and airy. Perhaps if the jam and cream were of better quality the scones may have a better chance at tasting better.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Choose from either a cup or pot of loose-leaf tea.

Price: $$

Overall: Not a bad stop if you’re taking the back road to Brooklyn.

Location: 4 Berowra Waters Rd, Berowra NSW 2081 Ph: 02 9456 5006
Reviewed February, 2014

@15 Cafe

DT@@15 Cafe - Mogo#2It just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover. Looking at @15 Cafe from the Princes Highway, you wouldn’t think that behind the front door is an eclectic cafe serving homemade plain and date scones with an interesting collection of gifts to sift through while you wait. I’m a sucker for teapots and cute teacups, anything that’ll spruce up an afternoon tea. If you don’t have any spare cash to take something home with you, sit amongst the goodies, otherwise on a nice day, sit on the front or side deck. The Devonshire Tea comes with one scone, so I try the date, although both look appealing. The scone is a bit dry, but maybe it’s due to it being the afternoon, as no doubt it would have been superb straight out of the oven. I’m well impressed with the thick cream, as not enough cafes put this much effort into the cream.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small variety of tea bags served in a boring teapot considering they sell lots of cute ones in the gift shop.

Price: $$

Overall: Good shopping if you need a new teapot or teacup.

Location: 15 Princes Hwy, Mogo NSW 2536 
Reviewed February, 2014