The Coffee Emporium

DT@The Coffee Emporium - Westfield Burwood#2

No matter how stylish and appealing you try to make a franchise café or restaurant look or sound on their website, if you can’t deliver decent quality goods, even if it is just scones, jam and cream, then how can you expect repeat customers? It’s one of my pet hates of eating in shopping malls – almost every eatery is a franchise. Located on Level One at Westfield Shopping Mall in Burwood, The Coffee Emporium is one of a few choices I find for scones. I’m sorry to say but these are some of the worst scones I have ever had. Dry and basically stale, they arrive cut in half and spruced up with a sprinkle of icing sugar. The half of scone I manage to eat leaves a bad taste in my mouth, which is often associated with scones that are baked to sit for days on end in a cake cabinet and taste like it’s made from a packet mix. The jam is average and the sweet faux cream is from a can. The whole lot tastes sickly sweet and synthetic. If you insist on giving them a try yourself, other Coffee Emporium franchises are located in Westfield and other shopping malls in Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual variety of teas. Listed on the menu as plunger tea, but when it arrives it is actually loose-leaf tea in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A typical franchise serving up a lousy Devonshire Tea.

Location: Level 1 Westfield Burwood, 100 Burwood Rd, Burwood NSW 2134 Ph: 02 8084 0946
www.thecoffeeemporium.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

Cowtown Diner & Burger Bar

DT@Cowtown Diner, Margaret River#2

It’s raining the day I visit Cowtown and I don’t have an umbrella. A real shame as there are black and white fibreglass cows all over the place. There’s even a gold one on top of a pole in the park that looks as though it’s about to do a spectacular swan dive into an imaginary pool. This is Cowaramup, more commonly known as Cowtown, and boy don’t the locals play on its cow-theme. In 2012 the town installed 42 of these life size cow sculptures to attract tourists and in July 2014 the town set a Guinness World Record for the largest group of people – 1,352 – dressed as cows! I visit the first café I see advertising scones, and it’s Cowtown Diner & Burger Bar’s ‘Devonshire Tea for 1 or 2’, that grabs me. I love the black and white polka dot cup and saucer that instantly reminds me of a Friesian cow, how apt. The scone is a bit crumbly, but surprisingly good for a burger bar, and the lovely thick cream makes up for the average jam.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual variety of teas available at cafes, all loose-leaf served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A surprisingly good spread in a quirky town that deserves a visit for the ‘fun’ factor.

Location: 1/64 Bussell Hwy, Cowaramup WA 6284 Ph: 08 9755 9270

Reviewed March, 2015

 

 

The Nookery Cafe

DT@The Nookery Cafe, Margaret River#

There are more wineries in the Margaret River Region then you’ll have time to poke a stick at, and a few with restaurants and cafes. If you can tear yourself away from the pristine beaches that look more tropical and spectacular than most I have seen in south-east Asia (and I have seen probably 75 per cent of them), then you are in for a treat with some mouth-watering menus and amazing wines. Short on time, I scour Trip Advisor and find a review on the scones at The Nookery Cafe at Woody Nook Wines, a slightly out-of-the-way and unknown to me winery. The review describes large scones but nothing could prepare me for how big they actually are. Scones on steroids is how I would describe them, and large is not always best because they are far too large for morning or afternoon tea, even if you are sharing. To me, the scones have a strange flavour that I can’t put my finger on – maybe it’s the icing sugar on top. The cream is sweet and light, and the fresh strawberry is a nice touch. I’m not a fan of chunky preserved fruit in a bit of sweet syrup masquerading as jam. It’s like eating a fruit sandwich, and I stopped eating those when I left primary school (think banana sandwiches). Wineries are often associated with inflated prices and gourmet food but it’s a bit ridiculous. Not only are the two scones accompanied with only enough jam and cream for half of one, but also the price is a bit high. The tea is a run-of-the-mill Twining tea bag and I have to actually go up and order my meal at the bar. With prices like this it’s absurd! ‘It is WA after all’ comes to mind yet again!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual variety of teas found at most cafes. Twining tea bags served in a pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: An intimate winery experience.

Location: Woody Nook Wines, 506 Metricup Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280 Ph: 08 9755 7030
www.woodynook.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

Emu Point Cafe

DT@Emu Point Cafe#2

It’s a shame there aren’t more cafes in the south-western corner of Australia like Emu Point Cafe. I notice a definite deficit in venues with world-class water views and a decent menu (note non kiosk style of food). After the breakfast rush is over I have a choice of outdoor tables with sublime views over Oyster Harbour and the neck of water that separates it from King George Sound. The menu is varied with some interesting seafood dishes (local seafood at that) and I wish I were around for lunch. At first sight I am impressed with the Devonshire Tea. This is my sixth in a few days on the west coast, and so far the best. The blackberry jam is exquisite and the double cream a blessing with the combination of both really adding flavour to scones that are a bit tasteless. The staff is friendly and the buzz reminds be of a beachside café in Sydney.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A prime position overlooking Oyster Harbour.

Location: 1 Mermaid Ave, Emu Point, Albany WA 6330 Ph: 08 9844 7207 www.emupointcafe.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

Deckchair Gourmet Cafe & Deli

DT@Deck Chair Gourmet Cafe & Deli-Augusta

Driving in, I like Augusta immediately. It feels ‘southern’, like a fishing village teetering on the edge of the earth, and I guess the unseasonal fog doesn’t help the vibe. Although unseen from the town centre, the Blackwood River that flows down from Margaret River, spills out into the Southern Ocean nearby, so locals and visitors have the best of both worlds: river and ocean. I’m not sure what makes Deck Chair a gourmet café. It smells like a take away shop and looks much more impressive on the outside than the inside. What café closes its kitchen at 1pm on a weekday? Isn’t that the middle of lunch? I also do a double take when my partner pays $19 for a coffee and a pre-made sandwich but my Devonshire Tea is a reasonable $8.50, but that’s with only one scone. The now common catch cry of “its WA after all” is wearing a bit thin. I nab the last scone that punches well above average for taste and texture. The jam is better than most commercial varieties and reminds me of the XL canned jam from my childhood. The cream is freshly whipped and refrigerated to keep its appreciated firmness. The café closes by 3pm, so make it an early afternoon tea.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: The biggest café in a picturesque seaside town.

Location: 50 Blackwood Ave, Augusta WA 6290 Ph: 08 9758 0700

Reviewed March, 2015

Cottage Cafe

DT@Cottage Cafe - Berry Farm, Margaret River#

The Cottage Cafe is part of The Berry Farm’s extensive business plan, which includes 10 hectares of avocado trees, a large orchard, a berry patch, plus a Cellar Door brimming with berry and fruit jams, jellies, preserves, sauces, syrups, dressings and naturally fermented vinegars all produced on the farm. If you want something a little stronger, the Cellar Door has tastings of the Club House Series Ports, sparkling wines, liqueurs, Thornhill Wines and Berry Farm Cider. The nearby cafe is literally in a cottage bookended by a couple of courtyards filled with seating for diners as well as a kiddie’s playground. Indoor seating is available but limited, and there’s enough undercover space if the weather turns. It’s morning tea time and the scones are not long out of the oven, light and fluffy. Today’s jam is strawberry and as far as strawberry jams go, is sensational – rich and fruity. The cream is freshly whipped, and I just wish there was more of it, including the jam, as I love to load up on the toppings! The cafe is definitely on the Margaret River tourist map, so expect crowds on the weekends and in school holidays.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas with a few interesting flavours such as raspberry/lime and strawberry/rhubarb served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A cute garden and something for the whole family to enjoy.

Location: 43 Bessell Rd, Rosa Glen WA 6285 Ph: 08 9757 5054 www.theberryfarm.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

 

 

Whalers Galley Cafe

DT@Whalers Galley Cafe#

Whaling was always big business in Albany, peaking in 1845 before its rapid decline after the discovery of petroleum oil in 1859. After a resurrection of the whaling trade, Cheynes Beach Whaling Company set up camp in 1952 along the pretty coastline of Frenchman’s Bay and hunted Humpback and then Sperm whales until its closure in 1978. By 1980, this former site of slaughter was transformed into an historic Whaling Station and takes its place in history as the last whaling station to operate in Australia. Although it’s a terrible part of our past, I am still fascinated by what went on here. It’s easy to spend half a day wandering around exploring the Norwegian whale chaser, watching a few short films and checking out the old whaling gear. There are lots of stories to read about ships and crew, and the 45-minute tour is a good way to get your bearings. Whether you leave feeling appalled or relieved at how far society has come, you best stop at Whalers Galley Cafe to reflect. Considering the amount of carnage that went in this bay, the serenity is astonishing. The café has a cosy indoor area with floor to ceiling windows to capture as much of the sun as possible, and a large outdoor deck that can be opened right up in warm weather. I order just one scone, which is fluffy with a creamy texture. Unfortunately the scone is let down by the Kraft sachet jam and the ‘too’ light cream. A better quality jam and cream would definitely boost this Devonshire Tea into the amazing stakes. Visit the Botanic Garden and Australian Wildlife sections of Discovery Bay if you have the time or the inclination.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Tea Drop tea pouches served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A view to die for.

Location: Discovery Bay, Whaling Station Rd, Frenchman Bay WA 6330 Ph: 08 9844 4711
www.discoverybay.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

York Street Cafe Restaurant

DT@York Street Cafe#

A cruise ship pulled in to Albany early this morning and the town is unusually busy. Cafes are full, groups wait eagerly for Harley Davidson rides and the Western Australian Museum has a steady stream of visitors. For a small town, Albany has lots of attractions. Apart from the pretty coastline and King George Sound, and the recently opened National ANZAC Centre, Albany has a wealth of history, which even predates Fremantle and Perth. Since there is so much activity in town, I decide to lap it up and pull up a chair at York Street Cafe Restaurant. It’s pretty much in the middle of the main street and feels relaxed. I order one scone, which looks like it’s come out of the oven that morning (which, incidentally should be a given). It has a lovely texture and flavour, but is slightly dry. The raspberry jam is rich and fruity, and the double thick cream complements the scone and jam well.

Scones: 

Jam:

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: An excellent choice for scones in the main downtown hub.

Location: 184 York St, Albany WA 6330 Ph: 08 9842 1666 www.184york.com

Reviewed March, 2015

The Fremantle Bakehouse

DT@The Fremantle Bakehouse#

Wander through the streets of Fremantle and explore the heritage buildings that are a testament to the early years of the Swan River Colony that settled at the mouth of the Swan River in 1829. Come 1987 and Fremantle was revitalised and gentrified for the America’s Cup and to this day remains a bustling city with enough to occupy a visitor for several days. Amongst a strip of eateries, The Fremantle Bakehouse is housed in an impressive heritage building with high ceilings and a large shady footpath to keep things cool for diners out front. I’m momentarily swayed by exquisite looking slabs of vanilla slice, which I later discover are sensational, and a bargain at $3.50 (think vanilla slice from Sorrento, VIC at half the price), but I remember my scone quest. Today, both plain and pumpkin scones are available, but this probably changes daily. My plain scone arrives looking quite dramatic with a steak knife protruding from the top of it. This certainly is – different! The scone is over-warmed, and has a slightly steamed bun thing going on, which makes it a bit flavourless. The cream is fresh but way too light. Considering the size of the scone, I’m served one piddly sachet of jam. I ask for another, which isn’t a problem but realise when I go to pay at the counter there’s a basket of them, in hindsight I could have scooped up a handful.

Scones:

Jam:

Cream:

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

Price: $$

Overall: A lovely historic Bakehouse in the heart of Fremantle’s dining precinct.

Location: 52 South Tce, Fremantle WA 6162 Ph: 08 9430 9592 www.fremantlebakehouse.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015

Convict Cafe

DT@Fremantle Prison#2

Fremantle Prison closed its’ doors in 1991 after 136 years in operation. If prison walls could talk they would tell tales of hangings, floggings, dramatic convict escapes and prisoner riots. When it closed, surprisingly the conditions of the prison cells were not any better than when it first opened in 1855, i.e. no running water or toilets, and it was cheaper to build a new prison than to renovate the old. Soon after it’s closure Fremantle Prison became a slice of Swan River Colony history and is now a place where visitors can explore. As well as general prison tours (Doing Time or Great Escapes) there are Torchlight Tours, which incidentally are NOT ghost tours, and for the more adventurous, Tunnel Tours. The latter delves down to 20 metres beneath the prison where you explore a labyrinth of tunnels on foot as well as in a replica convict punt. It’s a fine change from the usual walking tour. At the entrance to the complex is the Convict Cafe that has both indoor and outdoor seating. I wish I can say that the Devonshire Tea is as impressive as the Tunnel Tour but I can’t. The sultana scone is fine, with plenty of juicy sultanas and a slight crispy outside. To me, an ordinary scone can become extraordinary with the help of some good quality jam and cream. Unfortunately the Convict Cafe fails to deliver, with a Kraft portion-controlled jam and sickly sweet synthetic cream from a can.

Scones:

Jam:

Cream:

Tea: A Lipton’s tea bag served in a coffee cup with hot water.

Price: $$

Overall: No doubt the highlight of the prison is not the Devonshire Tea but the history and myriad tours.

Location: 1 The Terrace, Fremantle WA 6160 Ph: 08 9336 2659 www.fremantleprison.com.au

Reviewed March, 2015