@ 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: 

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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

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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: 

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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

IMG_5632

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

Mavis’s Kitchen and Cabins

DT@Mavis's Kitchen-Uki#2

The majestic Mt Warning rises from the rainforests of the Wollumbin State Forest and looms over Mavis’s Kitchen. Day-trippers heading to hike the summit, pass by the gates of Mavis’s empire, which includes a restaurant, a Providore, kitchen gardens and a range of accommodation options set on a gorgeous lush tropical property. The restaurant is in a restored Queenslander style house, which offers lovely views and helps catch a breeze on summer days. A smart business is a successful one, and Mavis’s Kitchen is definitely that. Why? Hungry hikers, even if they have eaten their packed lunch, will always want to stop at a café for something decadent as a treat for spending hours hiking a mountain. It’s embedded into the human psyche. And this is where Mavis’s shows it’s business savvy, advertising their “Devonshire Teas” on their sign outside. No thinking by would be diners, “do they, or don’t they serve scones?” Just a, “let’s do it!” As I mentioned in an earlier post, these guys run the Art Gallery Cafe at the Tweed Gallery, if you thought I messed up my images. It’s basically the same spread but with a few differences. The presentation is much cooler as scones arrive on a breadboard – tre rustic! The homemade scones are hearty, perfect for hikers coming off the mountain, and the jam is the same organic paw paw/pineapple/ginger variety, although my friend and I feel that it is tastier, but is that possible? The difference is in the cream. The firm i.e. not too light Chantilly cream gives the scones an extra little kick of sweetness. Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and of course Devonshire Teas!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$$

Overall: A beautiful location conveniently close to the Mt. Warning walking path.

Location: Mavis’s Kitchen and Cabins, 64 Mount Warning Rd, Uki NSW 2484 Ph: 02 6679 5664
www.maviseskitchen.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

Flutterbies Cottage Cafe

DT@Flutterbies-Tyalgum#3

The historic village of Tyalgum is set against a stunning backdrop of the wall of the Mt Warning Caldera and has a cluster of lovingly restored quaint old buildings. It’s the kind of village you want to pack up and move to, all green meadows and dramatic mountains. Including an old pub and a general store, there are a few other businesses to potter around in. Flutterbies Cottage Cafe has an extensive menu for breakfast and lunch dishes, as well as a host of items for morning or afternoon tea. It’s a cute yet elegant (kitsch for some) tea room with waitresses in period dress to look the part and to match the pastel colours of the furnishings. If you have a phobia of rooms full of teddy bears, sit outside or in the semi covered alleyway between the two buildings. For an extra dollar on the Devonshire Tea, I order a “mixed plate”, which gives me one plain and one lavender scone. Although the scones share the same strawberry jam, they each come with their own cream. Both the lavender scone and cream are infused with lavender, which works really well together and the flavour is not overpowering at all. Overall the scones are fluffy and just the right size, however I do find the lavender scones slightly dry – it is 4pm after all!

Scones: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Cute, atmospheric and tops off a perfect afternoon drive in the country.

Location: 23 Coolman St, Tyalgum NSW 2484 Ph: 02 6679 3221 www.flutterbies.com.au

Reviewed April, 2015

Flamingo’s Cafe

DT@Flamingo's Cafe-Murwillumbah#3

You can’t miss Flamingo’s Cafe on the main street of Murwillumbah. The huge blackboard sign on the footpath advertises their homemade scones and is a surefire way of attracting scone lovers. The pink interiors and little flamingo statues outside are a nice touch too. The weather is balmy on the NSW north coast so take advantage of the outdoor seating. To be honest I didn’t expect much, but I am so surprised by the quality of the scone that I don’t even mind the average jam and cream. Brownie points to the tea cup and saucer, the better than average teapot and the lovely little strainer for the tea.

Scones: 

Jam: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: An unassuming café in downtown Murwillumbah.

Location: 91 Murwillumbah Rd, Murwillumbah NSW 2484 Ph: 02 6672 5492

Reviewed April, 2015

Art Gallery Café

DT@Tweed Valley Gallery Cafe#2

It’s not just the attractive art that attracts the hordes of visitors to the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre in South Murwillumbah. I think it also has something to do with the large picture windows in the foyer that are a piece of art and offer sweeping views of the Tweed Valley towards Mt. Warning. Serendipitously these views are the same that diners at The Gallery Cafe have, which is probably why you need to book a table at lunchtime. Run by the boys from Mavis’s Kitchen in Uki, the Devonshire Tea spread is almost identical to what you can get at Mavis’s. The hearty scones are large and good for sharing (unless you are really hungry), although they could do with more jam and cream. They’re fresh and slightly crispy and pair well with Mavis’s Kitchen’s organic paw paw/pineapple/ginger jam. The jam is an unusual combination but a refreshing change, although I can’t really taste one distinct flavour. The cream is freshly whipped but a bit too light. The real winner here is that magical view!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$$

Overall: A very busy café with sensational views of the Tweed Valley.

Location: Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre, 2 Mistral Rd, South Murwillumbah
NSW 2484 Ph: 02 6670 2790  www.artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed April, 2015