Cafe Scoop and Providore

DT@Cafe Scoop-Eagle Heights

Cafe Scoop and Providore occupies the same site as the former D’Liscious Cafe on the tourist strip in Eagle Heights in the Mt Tambourine area. There’s a large sign in the outdoor seating area you can’t miss, reading ‘homemade scones’. They got me at scones, but homemade is always something I like to hear or see. At the quieter end of Long Road, the little oasis is chilled compared to the bigger places in the main tourist bus drop off area down the road. The scone is fresh but tastes like it’s made from a premix like the ones you buy in plastic bottles at the supermarket to make pancakes. I don’t know, but it leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth, from whatever recipe/ingredients is used. The strawberry jam is average but the cream is the saviour – thickly whipped.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: The usual variety of Twining tea bags served in a teapot that looks as though it is missing its bottom cup and another’s lid.

Price: $$

Overall: A great little spread for $6.50.

Location: 119 Long Rd, Eagle Heights QLD 4271 Ph: 0415 968 335

Reviewed April, 2015

Melba’s Verandah Cafe

DT@Melba's Verandah Cafe-Broadwater#

Broadwater could be one of those blink-and-you-miss-it towns that dot the old sections of the Pacific Highway. Except, sitting beside the mighty Richmond River is a sugarcane mill with a blinking big chimneystack bellowing out white fluffy plumes of steam (I hope) that is an endearing feature of the town. What’s cute is the hundred strong flock of cockatoos I see on the other side of the road cleaning up whatever of the sugarcane (I’m guessing) that doesn’t make the conveyor belt into the mill. It all sounds so quaint and 20th century – because it is! Right on the highway is Melba’s Verandah Cafe, a rambling old house with wrap around verandahs set in a lush garden. The morning I visit, the garden is buzzing with bird life and their birdsong – it’s crazily noisy. My Devonshire Tea is quite a spread and arrives on a two-tiered cake plate with a bunch of grapes and two hearty scones that are not long out of the oven. The whipped cream is lovely and thick, but the unique aspect are the toppings. The homemade mixed berry jam is rich and fruity but too chunky for me, but the pineapple and passionfruit butter is a smooth and fruity delight. The owner, Bev, tells me it’s her specialty. Before my visit I read many negative reviews on Tripadvisor about Bev’s manner. I don’t know Bev, and yes, her manner seems slightly gruff, but I think it’s just her tone and she doesn’t mean anything by it. However, I find her to be chatty during my visit, which takes me by surprise, as I am extremely wary after reading those reviews. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you stay away and the Church café down the road doesn’t do scones!

Scones:

Jam:  to 

Cream: 

Tea: A range of Madura loose-leaf teas served in a plunger pot with a fine China tea-cup and saucer. I am also kindly offered a ‘top up’ of hot water.

Price: $$$

Overall: A truly superb and surprising spread.

Location: 2-4 Fischer St, Broadwater NSW 2472 Ph: 02 6682 8099

Reviewed April, 2015

Red Rattlers Gallery

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My affection for red rattlers or old train carriages started six years ago when I met my partner. He was (and still is) painstakingly transforming a red rattler into a future home and then eventually a holiday rental. Six years ago it was a vision, and now it’s almost a reality, and I am yet to find a carriage that matches the meticulously renovated one that now is part of my life. At the Red Rattler Gallery I peruse the pictures showing the before and after shots and follow the 1928 red rattlers story, which incidentally feels very familiar. The two carriages are parked parallel to each other and are linked by a timber deck, which is a wonderful outdoor dining area. One carriage has been transformed into a gift shop with the café kitchen at one end, while the other is a dining carriage decked out in booth-style dining. Alfresco loving diners are well catered for but the draw card here is certainly eating at one of the tables inside. I arrive late in the afternoon and manage to nab the last scone. It’s a shame as the scone is so good that I could have done with two! Although the scone leans heavily on the yellow side, it tastes incredible – light and fluffy with a creamy after taste. The jam is average and the cream is thickly whipped, and there are plenty of both. Open Wednesday to Sunday, but don’t leave your visit until too late in the day as they close up shop by 4.30pm even though the sign says 5pm or if they’re busy they can run out of scones. Also give yourself enough time so you can absorb the fascinating train features and atmosphere.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: What a place to have as your local café! Yes please!

Location: 385 Tomewin Rd, Dungay NSW 2484 Ph: 02 6672 7254
www.redrattlers.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

Bluebottles Brasserie

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It’s a warm and sunny autumnal day in Woolgoolga, an easy 10-minute drive north of Coffs Harbour. I’m told by friends who have just moved to town, that apparently the Coffs Harbour region have the best overall weather in Australia; not too hot, not too cold, but just right! Today it feels perfect, glorious even. This is my first time in the town proper. My only past recollections of Woolgoolga are a roundabout, a statue of an elephant and an exotic looking temple. I am told they are still here, but you don’t see them since the recently opened section of the Pacific Highway, which bypasses that very roundabout. When I venture to the beach and a look around town I am surprised at how populated and bustling it is. A Woolworths is about to open and cafes are doing a roaring trade, and Bluebottles Brasserie is one of them. My scone arrives on a breadboard, which is very sophisticated. The scone is on the dry side so I am appreciative of the generous amount of jam and cream to mask its averageness. The thick jam and whipped cream, that could be a bit thicker, isn’t bad and it’s a fine option just to soak up the climate. Woolgoolga is definitely worth a stop if you need a break from the Pacific Highway and to get away from the madness of Coffs.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant café in a chilled out mid-coast town.

Location: 1/53 Beach St, Woolgoolga NSW 2456 Ph: 02 6654 1962
www.bluebottlesbrasserie.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

Tedder & Woodroffe Lounge & Dining

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Main Beach, near Surfers Paradise, has come a long way since I briefly lived in the area in 1990. The high-rise apartments interspersed with a dwindling number of shacks that stubbornly refuse to sell the land from underneath them to developers, is the same. However, the bustling strip of restaurants and bars has definitely grown 10 fold and then some. Tedder & Woodroffe Lounge & Dining named for its location on the corner of the two cross streets bearing the same names is not the kind of place you expect to find a Devonshire Tea on the menu. But there it is in black and white, “Fresh scones with jam and fluffy cream.” Fluffy cream? That’s certainly a novel way of describing cream. The cream is anything but fluffy, more akin to double thick, which is mighty fine by me. There’s nothing fancy about the jam, but I do like the way the Devonshire Tea is presented; the sprig of mint and the fresh strawberry with a dusting of icing sugar makes for a pretty afternoon tea. The scones however, both of markedly variable sizes, are dry and rather unappealing as far as scones go.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A lovely open and airy venue for afternoon tea.

Location: 1/19-21 Tedder Ave, Main Beach QLD 4217 Ph: 07 5532 4539
www.tedderandwoodroffe.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

City Extra

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Franchise and 24/7 café/restaurants in highly trafficked tourist areas in major cities are not the kind of places I have scored decent scones. So it is with very low expectations that I slide in to a seat at City Extra, Circular Quay. Fortunately it’s not overly busy this particular Saturday afternoon and we nab an outdoor table overlooking the busy Circular Quay thoroughfare filled with ferry commuters, and locals and visitors ambling along enjoying the winter sun and all that the busy hub offers. The inside booths and array of pancakes on the menu makes City Extra feel very American, and back when it opened in 1986, it did feel just that. I don’t expect to find scones on the menu, so I have never bothered to stop by, which is a shame as the scones are crispy and fresh out of the oven, no soggy microwaved scones here. They taste a bit salty to me, but my partner doesn’t pick it up. I do notice on the busy menu, it’s designed to look like a folded newspaper, that all items are made on the premises. Call me cynical, but I don’t always believe what I read. However, in the scone case, I think they are right! The jam is average, and the fresh cream is from a whipping siphon and is particularly light. But with scones this good, the jam and cream don’t spoil the spread. The Circular Quay venue has extended trading hours but City Extra Parramatta is open 24/7.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A handy location with extended trading hours right at Circular Quay.

Location: E4 East Podium Circular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9241 1422 www.cityextra.com.au

 

Reviewed May, 2015

Devon Pixies

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Tucked away from the main road on an unassuming block of land and in a building that once was a veterinary practice, Devon Pixies is one of those hidden gems that won’t disappoint. Pink and pretty, Devon Pixies is not decadent in a five-star hotel High Tea kind of way but instead fun and quirky. Hot pink plastic chalice-looking water cups sit on the tables along side fine bone China trios. A dish of pink and white marshmallows, although we leave untouched, adds to the indulgent experience. It’s not all fluff and pink feminine touches; the goodies are what keep visitors coming back. The scones are fluffy with a creamy texture and are accompanied with a homemade chocolate truffle. They are definitely more-ish, and if it weren’t for the list of cafes I plan on visiting, I would order more. The raspberry jam is thick and pairs nicely with the super thick dollop cream. Devon Pixies is set up to create a social vibe, with a hat stand loaded with hats and scarves for funny photo opportunities. It’s the perfect venue for a birthday, bridal or baby shower, or any event where the peeps love a good scone.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: A selection of T2 loose-leaf tea served in a pretty teapot to go with the dainty fine bone China trio set.

Price: $$

Overall: This is one place you don’t want to miss!

Location: 55 Quinzeh Creek Rd, Logan Village QLD 4207 Ph: 0449 285 277 devonpixies.com

Reviewed April, 2015

@ noah’s cafe

DT@ @Noah's Cafe-DFO Homebush#

DFOs aren’t what they used to be. These days they are no different from Westfield in the fact that they have become slick shopping malls, where you can often, but not always, snap up a bargain. DFO Homebush is much more user-friendly these days – the extra car parking helps, but the high-end shops are way beyond my budget. Although that section of the mall is lovely and quiet! Tucked away in a light and quiet corner (not in the high-end shopping area) is @ noah’s cafe. It’s not an in-your-face-eatery, like most there, which is a nice change. Weekends are hectic, so any quietish corner where you can catch your breath is welcome. The seating is ample and roomy and for natural light and glimpses to green pastures, sit in the outside area of the café. Surprisingly the scones are okay. I’m always dubious when at cafes in shopping malls, as you never do know how long the scones/cakes have been in the cabinet. They aren’t the homemade kind, but fresh and tasty enough if you have a scone craving. The let down is the less than average strawberry jam and the sweet and highly processed cream sprayed straight out of a can; disappointing.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of SereniTea tea bags served in a cool teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Tucked away far enough for a rest from the shopping circuit.

Location: DFO Homebush, 3-5 Underwood Rd, Homebush NSW 2140 Ph: 02 9748 9800
www.dfo.com.au/Homebush/

Reviewed May, 2015

Birdwing Cafe & Curios

DT@Bridwing Cafe & Curios-Tumbulgum#5

The House of Gabriel may tower over the few businesses in tiny Tumbulgum with its grandeur, but further down the road and still offering the same magnificent views of the Tweed River and beyond, the Birdwing Cafe & Curios does things its own quirky way. Slightly tucked away, look for the handful of tables, the cosy café in an old timber house has a real welcome and warmth to it. It’s so relaxing I want to doze off in one of their comfy chairs to the backdrop of classical music playing in the background. Check out the plaque marking the river levels of the 1954 floods on the front steps as you enter the café. The menu is loaded with homestyle dishes including the homemade scones. They’re a little burnt on the bottom and being heated up in the microwave has robbed my scone of any flavour. The raspberry jam is thick and firm, not bad for an average brand, and the cream is thickly whipped. Love the fine bone China trio set and tea strainer – very, la di da! Have a good look around before you leave, as there are all kinds of things in dusty corners for sale, including art, new and used books, and a mini nursery around the back – if you are after a souvenir pot plant or Buddha statue.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small range of Madura loose-leaf teas served in a generous teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A quirky and cosy vibe with sensational views across the Tweed River.

Location: 116 Riverside Dr, Tumbulgum NSW 2490 Ph: 02 6676 6048
www.birdwingcafeandcurios.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

Cafe Zingara

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South of the NSW/QLD border are the pretty beaches of Kingscliff and enough shops, restaurants and cafes along the beach side strip to keep visitors amused. The low-key seaside resort doesn’t have the va va voom of Byron Bay, but is worth a look in if meandering up or down the NSW north coast. The cafes along Marine Parade spill out onto the footpath with most having alfresco dining to take advantage of the beach vibe. The day I pass Cafe Zingara, I spot a bunch of flowerpot scones sitting on the counter. Looking more like a muffin than a scone, there’s plain or date to choose from, and although they look rather large, they are actually quite small. My date scone tastes more muffin than scone and is a tad too microwaved and chewy with an over nuked flavour. There’s nothing special about the strawberry jam, but the cream, although sweet, is thickly whipped.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant alfresco dining option, and where else can you eat a flowerpot scone by the beach?

Location: 2/94 Marine Pde, Kingscliff NSW 2487 Ph: 02 6674 1650 www.cafezingara.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015