Old Vienna Coffee House

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The windows in the cafe are impressive. I just love the massive top to bottom original windows on Level 1 of the QVB. As I sip tea and chat, they allow a birds-eye view of the Westfield Tower wedged in amongst the high-rise buildings. The opera music competes with the murmur of the diners and is pleasant rather than offensive, even if you’re not a fan. It’s just hit lunchtime when I visit, but the service is swift and efficient, a Viennese trait perhaps, and we’re not waiting long before we’re munching on scones. I’m not keen on yellow plates, I don’t now why but they just don’t suit, they remind me of 1970s Formica laminated kitchen bench tops. Overall, the presentation, quality and taste is pretty average. The scones are neither good nor bad, and the cream is very light. My friend and I can’t decide whether it’s from a can or from a cream whipping canister, but after much debate we decide on the latter as it does taste fresh but very light. The jam is my favourite part of the spread, not too syrupy, but tasty nonetheless.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of Twinnings tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Efficient service but don’t expect to be transported to Vienna, Austria.

Location: The Albert Walk, Shop 2, Level 1, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9267 5746 www.oldviennacoffeehouse.com.au

Reviewed May, 2014

The Wineglass Bar & Grill

DT@The Wineglass Bar & Grill - Mudgee#2

The Cobb & Co Court Boutique Hotel is situated in the heart of Mudgee and in spitting distance of at least 40 cellar doors producing some pretty special drops. It’s a fine place to base yourself as everything you need; restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops, are all a short stroll away. The Hotel’s restaurant, The Wineglass Bar & Grill is open pretty much all day, and when I visit, the courtyard is awash with warm winter sun. There are umbrellas for shady outdoor dining in the summer and indoor seating for the cooler and warmer weather. Just so you know, the scones appear on the breakfast menu, which finishes at 11am. My visit coincides with lunch, but an okay from the kitchen assures me that scones can be had all day. You can order a full or a half serve, but I must point out that the scones are small, almost bite-size, and unless you’re on a diet you won’t want to share. The scones are straight out of the oven, crispy on the outside and soft and piping hot on the inside. The jam is quite average considering the cost of the scones and the fact that Mudgee has traded its country image for a food and wine haven. It says double cream on the menu, which to me means thick dollop cream, but this cream is nothing like it although fresh and lightly whipped. ‘Devonshire Tea Sunday’ is served from 2.30pm to 6pm on yep, you guessed it, Sunday, for $9.95.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual range of tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: A lovely little courtyard cafe to escape to.

Location: 97 Market St, Mudgee NSW 2850 Ph: 02 6372 3417 www.cobbandcocourt.com.au
Reviewed May, 2014

The Old Hartley Post Office Cafe

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Set halfway between Mt Victoria and Lithgow, and just before the turn off to Jenolan Caves on the Western side of the Blue Mountains, the historic Hartley village is a well-preserved reminder of 19th century rural Australia. One of the first settlements in the area, there are 17 buildings to explore and the oldest, the extravagant sandstone Greek Revival Courthouse built in 1837, once sentenced thieves, robbers and convicts in its heyday now acts as a museum. Nowadays the village is ghostly quiet, and more often than not you can have the place to yourself and your thoughts with only the rumble of traffic rushing by on the Great Western Highway. Recently a revitalisation project was established and already two businesses have moved in – The Talisman Gallery and The Old Hartley Post Office Cafe. The latter is where you’ll find simple homestyle meals and snacks and a Devonshire Tea like your Nanna would make. The cafe occupies the old post office, which is beautifully restored and offers cosy indoor and sunny outdoor seating on the front verandah. The scones are the winners, small but soft with a creamy texture. The strawberry jam is average and although the cream is freshly whipped its super duper light especially noticeable if you prefer your cream more towards the clotted cream end of the spectrum. The cafe is open Friday to Sunday and for guided tours of the courthouse contact National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of tea bags served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A step back in time.

Location: Hartley Historic Village, Old Bathurst Rd, Hartley NSW 2790 Ph: 0413 380 712

Reviewed May, 2014

Kemps Kafe

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In Springwood I uncover yet another delicious Devonshire Tea tucked away off the main drag. A cosy and popular cafe with plenty of windows to let in lots of light, Kemps Kafe is a good choice when you need to recharge the scone batteries. Depending on how hungry you are, either go for a serving of one or two scones then add a pot of tea. The scones are light, fluffy and creamy and the raspberry jam rich and tasty. Although the cream is freshly whipped, it’s very light; I’d prefer something thicker.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Buzzy, bright and cosy.

Location: 1 Raymond Rd, Springwood NSW 2777 Ph: 02 4751 9889

Reviewed May, 2014

The Palace Tea Room

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A visit to The Palace Tea Room needs to be shared with at least one friend rather than going solo. Why? Because it is just so damn good!. It’s the kind of place where you can escape hectic Sydney, especially the lower thoroughfare levels of the QVB and nestle in for a few hours for a good ‘catch up’. Set in the upper echelons of the historical Queen Victoria Building, The Palace Tea Room is essentially a Tea Room serving all manner of afternoon teas plus more substantial meals. The space is filled with natural light and chandeliers hang from the ceiling to give the place an air of decadence. It feels a bit empty when we arrive but the vibe amps up a notch as tables fill and the clink of teacup to saucer and the chatter of satisfied customers fills the air. There’s seating in the main part of the restaurant with ample tables lining the banister outside for a more QVB appreciation experience. We’re impressed with the Wedgewood tea ware that’s all floral and shades of pink. The scones arrive fresh from the oven. One plain and one raisin, and I’ve got to say that they are superb! Crispy on the outside with delicate folds of scone heaven on the inside. To top it off, the cream is double thick and the housemade strawberry jam is tart rather than sickly sweet, which personally I love. There’s not a lot of jam and cream, considering there are four good-sized scones, but there’s no problem getting a top up. I visit on a weekday, but you may want to book a table on the weekends as I can only assume it would be a popular place. Quality doesn’t come cheap, but when you try as many scones as I do, it’s easy to recognise a stand out one – and this is one of them.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A diverse range of loose-leaf teas served in classic Wedgewood teapots.

Price: $$$$

Overall: Understated top quality elegance with professional and friendly service.

Location: Queen Victoria Building, Shop L1 20-22, L1, George St, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9283 2222
www.thepalacetearoom.com.au


Reviewed May, 2014

Oliver Brown Belgian Chocolate Cafe

DT@Oliver Brown Rhodes

There are a bunch of Oliver Brown Belgian Chocolate Cafes scattered throughout Sydney serving chocolate fondues and all manner of chocoholic delights. Predominantly attached to shopping centres, the Oliver Brown franchise is designed for those with a sweet tooth. When I pop in to check whether they have scones, I don’t expect to see a jar of them on the counter. Normally the scones are served with butter and a Kraft packet of tasteless strawberry jam, but I ask about cream and for an extra dollar I am given a bowl of whipped sweet cream, the kind that’s found on your hot or iced chocolate. The scone isn’t half bad, although quite sweet. It’s the lousy jam and cream that actually really let’s it down. Come for the chocolate fountains instead. The Oliver Brown franchise started in Sydney so are most prolific here, but they have expanded to the ACT, Queensland and there’s even one in China!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A variety of loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: It is a chocolate cafe after all.

Location: Shop 51, Rhodes Waterside Shopping Centre, 1 Rider Blvd, Rhodes NSW 2138 Ph: 02 8757 3655 www.oliverbrown.com.au


Reviewed May, 2014