Vanilla On Church

DT@Vanilla on Church#

The beachside resort of Terrigal is busy. It’s a balmy winter’s day and the traffic is crawling aa snail’s pace and the cafes and the Crown Plaza Terrigal are bursting with people. Stroll along the beach under Norfolk Pines or do nothing and absorb the resort ambience. Considering the plethora of eateries I only find Vanilla On Church selling scones, so I pull up a chair outdoors in the disappearing sun and nab the last two scones. The first thing I notice when my Devonshire Tea arrives is the cream. I’m not sure whether I should be shocked, appalled or just puzzled by the puddle of liquid cream, as it is the runniest cream I have ever been served with my scones. Imagine the other end of the spectrum to clotted cream, that’s what I have. I’m too stunned to take the cream back and ask whether it was a mistake as perhaps they are too lazy to whip the cream that’s obviously been poured straight out of the container. But maybe the dish has come straight out of the piping hot dishwasher and the double thick cream has melted? I’ll never know, but all I can say is – weird. The jam looks synthetic, and alongside the cream, there’s not enough to go around. The best part of the ensemble without a doubt are the scones: crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Maybe the cream is a one-off and you have better luck if you visit.

Scones: 

Jam:

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Although a block from the beach, it’s still a nice sunny corner to while away some time.

Location: 17 Church St, Terrigal NSW 2260 Ph: 02 4385 1960 www.vanillaonchurch.com.au

Reviewed June, 2014

Sage Cafe

DT@Sage Cafe#3

Sage Cafe sits in the fresh air on the outdoor, or atrium level of the Erina Fair Shopping Centre. It’s a winning choice on a winter’s day, especially to catch some winter sun and even the feeling that you’re in a shopping mall. I’m here on a recommendation so I am expecting good things, and it doesn’t disappoint. The large airy cafe has a variety of seating: inside, on the enclosed verandah and outside at the entrance. Service is swift, although ordering at the counter can get tedious if it’s busy and the cashier isn’t up to speed with the ins and outs of the ordering and payment process. My citron scones arrive looking delectably crisp and are soft and fluffy on the inside. I am blown away by the jams – two house made flavours. The only problem is, I can’t get a straight answer from the two wait staff I ask. The first comes back with blackberry and peach and strawberry, which I know for a fact neither is a match. And the second answer comes back as mixed berry and ‘I don’t know there wasn’t a label on the container.’ I’ll go with the mixed berry, and the second have a distinct marmalade flavour, although it could had been where the peach comes in. All I can say that scones taste better with good quality jam. The whipped fresh cream is acceptable but light. With high marks for two out of three factors, it’s a Devonshire Tea success!

Scones: 

Jam:

Cream: 

Tea: 20 T2 loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Superb, I just wish someone on staff had an idea about what the jam flavours were.

Location: Erina Fair Shopping Centre, Level 1, 620-658 Terrigal Drv, Erina Fair NSW 2250 
Ph: 02 4365 5655 www.sagecafe.com.au


Reviewed June, 2014

Silver Tree Cafe

DT@Silver Tree Cafe-Erina Fair#2

You won’t find me hanging out in a mall in my spare time, but you never know. The Silver Tree Cafe at Erina Fair Shopping Centre is a no-nonsense place to take a break from the maze of shops. Slip in to one of the booths towards the back of the cafe for some quiet or pull up a pew that looks out towards the mall to people watch. The homemade scones are pretty good, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and I’ve got to say I’m happily surprised. However, the jam is average and the whipped cream is quite light. The T2 tea is a bonus but what’s with the teeny tiny pot?

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 9 choices of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a tiny pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A no-nonsense cafe.

Location: Erina Fair Shopping Centre, Level 1, ShpT34, Terrigal Drv, Erina Fair NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4367 4448


Reviewed June, 2014

Tea Monkey Lounge

DT@Tea Monkey#2

With subtle lighting, concrete floors and a cavernous location slightly set off the street, Tea Monkey seems almost mysterious. What get’s me is the eye candy. Not of the human kind but of the tea kind – it’s a shopfront for the online tea business. You can sniff your way through a couple of trays of loose-leaf teas while you wait, maybe make a purchase, there are teas, candles, soaps, diffusers and of course teapots for sale. The staff is well rehearsed in all things tea and give good advice if you are looking to purchase or try a special brew. The place sometimes doubles as an informal venue; I see an advert for a gig at 2pm the Saturday I visit. My tea arrives first, and alongside my brewing pot is an egg timer, which I am advised to use so I know when my tea is ready for pouring. My large plain scone (there is date scones as well) is served with double thick cream and strawberry jam that is better than the usual commercial variety. I’ve got to say that the tea is the winner here, but points for trying with the scone, it just doesn’t have the quality as the tea does. Closed on Mondays

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 45 varieties of loose-leaf teas on offer.

Price: $$

Overall: A contemporary tea house vibe.

Location: 9-11 St Johns Ave, Gordon NSW 2072 Ph: 02 9499 5848 www.teamonkey.com.au

Reviewed June, 2014

Bakehouse on Park

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To be honest, I’m not too keen on the ‘Bakehouse On Wentworth’ outlets in the Blue Mountains. Maybe it’s because I’m not an avid meat pie eater. When I tried the Devonshire Tea at their Blackheath store, it was pretty dismal and after buying some pricey yet underwhelming cakes there a few weeks back, I just failed to see the attraction. However, I reasoned with myself to be open-minded, it is a guide after all for all sorts of tastes, expectations and desires. So after I settle in at the sunny bar that runs along the window at the Bakehouse On Park in Glenbrook, and my well-priced Devonshire Tea arrives, I am unexpectedly surprised. The scones look good and break apart nicely. They have a lovely texture and taste but are let down by the ordinary jam, that needs to be doubled in quantity (the scones are big), and the very lightly whipped cream. Overall, it’s a huge improvement on the Blackheath spread and maybe I’ll try the one in Leura and Springwood next.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of Lipton teabags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: The sunny possie in winter is a prime spot on Park Street.

Location: 31 Park St, Glenbrook NSW 2773 Ph: 02 4739 2288 www.bakehouseonwentworth.com.au


Reviewed June, 2014

The Little Paris Cafe

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A cafe with a difference, The Little Paris Cafe injects some colour into the usual cafe scene on offer in Katoomba. Compared to the Coffee Shot who occupied the digs previously, this cafe is an inviting splash of colour in the drab concrete clad plaza. Bright, warm and inviting the cake cabinet is laden with good quality goodies and I can’t keep my eyes off the caramel tarts. The menu of course is French; croissants, croque monsieur, you get the picture. Surprisingly then is to see scones on the menu. These are fresh from the oven, crispy on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside. The jam is quite tart, but I like it as it softens the sweetness of the Chantilly cream, which as you know, is a bit light for me. I don’t like having puddles of liquid on my scones and jam. The Princess Pantry jam, La vie en Rose, is a mix of strawberries, raspberries and rose water and is made in nearby Leura. It’s delightful, but quite tart for those with a sweet tooth. Shame about the short trading hours – 8.30am to 2.30pm, as the scone-witching hour is definitely in the afternoon for me. Note at the time of visiting the cafe was closed on Sundays, but the owner says she is looking to change that.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A mish mash of loose-leaf teas served in a too small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A tiny slice of Paris.

Location: Shop 4, 81 Katoomba St, Katoomba NSW 2780 Ph: 02 4782 1767


Reviewed June, 2014

The Cafe Sienna

DT@The Cafe Sienna-Annandale#

The only reason I had heard of The Cafe Sienna in Annandale is because of the High Tea deal I saw on one of the cheap coupon websites. When I called to ask whether I could order scones on their own, I couldn’t quite get my message across so I decided to just pop in. Located on a quiet leafy street corner in lovely Annandale, the beautifully restored corner store with sky-high ceilings and large picture windows is a pleasant place to hang out in or outside. I slide in next to a table that is reserved and set for high tea with a dainty tea cup and saucer, which causes me great disappointment when I end up with a thick rimmed coffee cup instead. It’s not just me that has been duped; the lady outside gets the same cup with her pot of T2 tea. Although I ask at the counter about the scones, a menu is still shoved into my hand even though there are no scones listed. I tell the waitress what I want, and guessing its part of a high tea wrongly assume the scones will be bite size. Instead my two scones arrive the size of dinner rolls, so I send one back. The bread roll looking scone is steaming hot (from the microwave) with a dry top. They are neither ravingly good nor scathingly bad, just average, which is a real shame as the chilled thickly whipped cream is sensational. The cherry jam is plentiful and different but it is mostly sickly sweet syrup than rich fruit. A place to linger with free WiFi on offer.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 18 choices of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A sneaky cafe tucked away in the mellow Annandale streets.

Location: 61 Annandale St, Annandale NSW 2038 Ph: 02 9560 2698 www.thecafesienna.com.au


Reviewed June, 2014

Escarpment

DT@Escarpment Eatery-Blackheath#2

I am surprised to see the sign saying ‘Devonshire Teas’ outside the front of the swanky Escarpment. Well, that’s what I always thought about this eatery in Blackheath, which is a testament to the glorious art deco era with timber floors and subdued warmth. Earlier this year the eatery gave their menu a major overhaul and now offer Tapas, which I am told has been a huge success with Friday and Saturday night reservations highly recommended. The Devonshire Tea comes with one scone that looks much like a muffin, no surprises there as it’s baked in a muffin tray. According to the signage out front, these unusual babies are made from the same award-winning recipe that got them a feature on Channel 7s Queensland Weekender some years ago. Not sure how to tackle my ‘scoffin’, torn in half like a scone or whichever way you eat a muffin, I try to break it apart without getting too many crumbs on the floor. Although the jam is quite average, the cream is rich and thick with just enough of both for the scone if you are liberal. The offer to top up my teapot with hot water is much appreciated and very much welcome.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small variety of tea bag teas served in a lovely teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Love the gorgeous cosy and stylish space.

Location: 246 Great Western Hwy, Blackheath NSW 2785 Ph: 02 4787 7269
www.escarpmentblackheath.com

Reviewed May, 2014

Piccolo Caffee Expresso

DT@Piccolo Caffee Expresso-Katoomba#2

Situated in the previous digs of Sugar & Spice Cafe on the Big W/Woolworths side of the Katoomba Arcade, Piccolo Caffee Expresso looks pretty much the same apart from the roller girl mannequin out the front. The cafe is warm and the service friendly, if not quiet the Friday afternoon we visit. I’m impressed when a teacup and saucer arrive rather than a thick-rimmed coffee cup, which is obviously not a hard thing to do, I just wished other cafes could follow suit. Both plain and orange and current scones are available, so I take one of each, looking forward to something slightly different. The scones have that microwave warmth to them, and any longer being nuked would be too much. I do prefer the flavour and texture of the orange and current scone, whereas the plain is a bit chewy. The strawberry jam is quite average and doesn’t add any quality to the spread. The lightly whipped cream is sweet and erring towards Chantilly cream. Great if that’s your preference.

Scones:

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small variety of tea bag teas served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A quiet cafe tucked away from the tourists tramping the main street.

Location: Shop 6, 147 Katoomba St, Katoomba NSW 2780 
Reviewed May, 2014

Ben Roberts Cafe & Gallery

DT@Ben Roberts Cafe - Lawson#

I was surprised to find this bright cafe tucked away behind the Lawson pub, which seems to dominate the village when you are arriving from the east. A lonesome sandwich board points potential customers in the right direction if you are walking down from the Great Western Highway, otherwise heading down behind the pub is the easier option to find the Ben Roberts Cafe & Gallery. While I sit waiting for my scones to arrive I wonder who is Ben Roberts? Apparently it’s the guy who built the original cottage in 1893, which housed local tradesmen of the time like the local boot maker. There’s no remnants of the old cottage anymore as the place is fully renovated and is a bit of an art gallery, although I don’t really notice much art as I am sitting in the glass-enclosed verandah, but I’m sure it’s there. It’s fairly quiet during my visit so I can hear what’s going on in the kitchen. I smile when I hear the whizz of the eggbeaters because that means fresh cream, but my shoulders slump when I hear the ding of the microwave. When my spread arrives it looks pretty good, although I’m not really impressed with the Nerada tea. I drink this at home as a basic standard tea, so I don’t want to pay for it at a cafe. The jam is pretty ordinary, but as I thought, the cream is freshly whipped. The scones aren’t bad, they are a little dry on top and have that microwaved thing going on, but they’ll definitely do.

Scones:

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A variety of tea bag teas served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant place to chill out.

Location: 10 Benang St, Lawson NSW 2783 Ph: 02 4759 1511

Reviewed May, 2014