The Cafe at David Jones

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There’s something special about having a Devonshire Tea in a cafe nestled within a department store. It reminds me of the old days when department stores were decadent, long before the advent of online shopping. Although small compared to Sydney’s David Jones store, the smaller Wollongong store has The Cafe at David Jones which is situated on the overhead pedestrian walkway linking the department store to a shopping mall across the Crown Street Mall. The cafe is in a prime position, affording a pleasant view down the Mall towards the Tasman Sea that looks awfully inviting this day. The scones have potential, if they were fresh, and are the perfect size for a snack. The fresh cream is way too light (aerosol rather than whipped) and the jam, well, are in sachets.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Relaxing spot with a view.

Location: David Jones Wollongong, 169 Crown Street Mall, Wollongong NSW 2500 Ph: 02 4252 5555

Reviewed in November, 2014

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Tea’se Me Tea Emporium

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It’s quite exciting to be sitting in a tea shop in downtown Wollongong. It’s only a block from the main CBD shopping mall with its franchised eateries and retail outlets, but a world away from the shopping hub. More cafe than tea shop, even though the name says otherwise, the cafe is simple yet comfortable, and the Devonshire Tea of two scones and a pot of tea is a bargain. However, they say you pay for what you get, and in this instance it surely sways this way. I try both a plain and a date scone, which are both pleasant but rather more like commercially produced sweet bread rolls. The jam is the cheapest sachet variety (fine at a breakfast buffet…just), and the cream is light, aerated and sweet. The saving grace is the tea selection so expect a long tea menu to pour over. Teas can be purchased and are in no-nonsense packaging and well-priced, although the shelves are quite bare when I visit. Closed on Sundays.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: An extensive menu of loose-leaf teas to satisfy all palates served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: An alternative from the main shopping hub.

Location: Shop 3, Unit 3, 163 Keira St, Wollongong NSW 2500 Ph: 02 4225 0999

Reviewed in November, 2014

Vaucluse House Tearooms

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Some say that some things never change, however at the Vaucluse House Tearooms this is certainly not the case. My last visit was four years ago, and comparing the images of the Devonshire Teas is remarkable. What does remain the same is the lovely relaxing ambience of this exquisite property tucked away in Sydney’s exclusive eastern suburbs. The sun-dappled courtyard is a major drawcard at anytime of the day, but it’s a real shame that the scones aren’t up to scratch. Four years ago they scored an ‘average’, and today they don’t fair any better. They look great but are very dry. A couple of people in my party barely touch them, deeming them inedible. The three-berry jam is tasty but nothing exceptional and the clotted cream that saved this spread on my last visit has been replaced with double thick cream, or so it tastes like it. My experience with clotted cream has been very different. Surely discerning Brits would ask ‘where’s the clotted cream?’ that the menu clearly promises. Time your visit for a Friday or weekend, and take a tour of the historic Vaucluse House. Devonshire Teas are served until 12pm daily.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good selection of loose-leaf teas.

Price: $$$

Overall: A beautiful historic establishment in a leafy and gorgeous park.

Location: Wentworth Ave, Vaucluse NSW 2030 Ph: 02 9388 8188  www.hht.net.au/visiting/cafes/


Reviewed in November, 2014