Miss Nellies Cafe

DT@Miss Nellie's Cafe-Kendall

South of Port Macquarie and a short diversion from the Pacific Highway, you’ll find mid north coast hospitality and a pretty place to chill in historic Kendall at Miss Nellie’s Cafe. After a quick look around town, it isn’t too big; settle in at the cafe for some chill time. Depending on the weather there are three seating options; out the front under the awning, in a semi open side annex attached to the side of the main building, and inside, the heart of all the action. On the menu are both half and full serves so you can order according to your appetite. The plain scones are just like you would expect from your nanna; soft and fluffy – all melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The homemade strawberry jam is a bit runny, and because I am sitting in a lounge chair and not at a table, I manage to drip some down the front of me. The cream is fresh and whipped but needs to hit the fridge for a bit. When you can finally tear yourself away from the serenity, check out the local goodies that they have for sale.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: A small range of World Par-TEA loose-leaf teas served in a smallish pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A cute café in a quiet heritage town.

Location: 33 River St, Kendall NSW 2439 Ph: 02 6559 0085 www.missnelliescafe.com.au

Reviewed August, 2015

Abundance Cafe

DT@Abundance Cafe & Garden Centre#2

Although only a ten or so minutes drive from downtown Port Macquarie, the Abundance Lifestyle and Garden feels a world away. Essentially a garden centre with a restaurant/café overlooking a duck filled lake, I’m not sure how much plant perusing is going on. After a few minutes lakeside, it’s seriously difficult to tear yourself away from the chilled ambience. Whatever daytime meal you are after, the drawcard is definitely the splendid surrounds. Since I’m dining alone and on a scone bender, I go for the half serve, i.e. one scone rather than two. Heading down the traditional pathway, I order the plain, although the date scone looks tempting. The plain impresses with its creamy fluffiness, and the jam, although nothing flash, is thick and firm and has substance to it. I am seeing a theme in this region in regards to the cream. Yet another café serving cream from a whipped cream dispenser with a fancy nozzle, chilled and firm. Nice one!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: The sublime lake view is worth an extended visit.

Location: Abundance Lifestyle and Garden, 274 Rawdon Island Rd, Sancrox NSW 2446
Ph: 02 6586 0030 www.abundance.net.au

Reviewed August, 2015

Curley’s Cafe

DT@Curley's Cafe-Wauchope#

By the sounds of the tooting from the steam train somewhere in the bush across the road, Timbertown is still open for business. In this fickle world it’s nice to know that simple entertainment is still thriving. Curly’s Cafe resides in a shack that looks like it belongs in Timbertown. It’s cabin-like cosiness on the inside, contrasts with the space available to spread your wings in the back courtyard or in the front garden. While in the queue to place my order, I have time to dither over which Tea Drop tea to have. There are plain and date scones, which are big and wholesome (read – dense), so just get the one, unless you are starving hungry. Unfortunately there’s not enough of the housemade jam (too runny), which is more syrup than a spread. I actually wince when I see a ginormous cream piping bag; obviously filled with whipped cream, go into the fridge. In my confusion I mix it up with a whipped cream siphon, which spits out cotton wool soft cream (not my most favourite), but instead I get a pretty bowl of thick and firm whipped cream, heaven – sigh. The highlight is the range of Melbourne outfit, Tea Drop teas (one of my favourite brands). The lowlight is that the high quality tea bag is dunked in a shallow coffee cup of hot water, sacrilegious. An additional pot of hot water is an extra dollar on top of the $3.60 cup of tea – eek!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A more than most extensive range of Tea Drop silk tea bags served, ahem, in a small coffee cup (no tea-pot).

Price: $$

Overall: A cosy ‘shack vibe’ that’s handy for a visit to Timbertown.

Location: Shop 5/245 Oxley Hwy (opposite Timbertown), Wauchope NSW 2446 Ph: 02 6585 2505

Reviewed August, 2015

Purnos On The Beach

DT@Flynns Beach-Port Mac#

Port Macquarie is blessed with a spectacular coastline and enough stunning beaches interspersed between rocky headlands to keep visitors and locals enthralled for an entire visit or a lifetime! Flynn’s Beach, which is just a few scenic kilometres south of the centre of town, is easily accessible by car (down the hill), by the stairs, or along the coastal path. The beach is divine, and we see dolphins frollicking out past the breakers. You can’t miss Purnos On The Beach as it’s right on the walkway, which splits the kiosk servery from the dining annexe. The first thing I notice about the café, apart from its ocean dipping proximity, is the ‘we don’t serve hot chips’ sign. The owner certainly has a sense of humour, because ‘hot chips’ are what you’d expect from a beach kiosk in a coastal NSW town. After that sign, I shouldn’t be surprised when I spot the scones on the menu. It’s kind of a contradiction though. They don’t serve hot chips, but serve the tea in a takeaway cup even though I am sitting down to scones on a proper plate. The jam and cream also comes in plastic containers, which feels a tad on the ‘cheap’ side. It is a beach-like kiosk after all, so why should I complain as I sit at a picnic bench in the sun (one of two near the café)? The scones are slightly sweet, which could be due to the dusting of icing sugar, but are freshly baked this morning. The jam is cheap and syrupy sweet and the cream super light, adding to the already sweet spread. But a Devonshire Tea with a beachside view? You just can’t beat that!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A very ordinary choice of tea bags served in a small or large take-away cup.

Price: $$

Overall: An amazing location just metres from the sand.

Location: Tuppenny Rd, Flynns Beach, Port Macquarie NSW 2444 Ph: 0402 072753

Reviewed August, 2015

Rainforest Cafe

DT@Rainforest Cafe-Port Mac#

Along the coast, south of Port Macquarie’s Town Beach and along the coastal walk, Sea Acres National Park is a pocket of rainforest easily accessible to visitors. Featuring the Sea Acres Centre, which is essentially a visitor’s centre, a gift shop selling stuffed toy cockatoos and lemon myrtle soaps and the like, and the start of the Rainforest Boardwalk (fees apply). Take a Discovery Tour with National Park’s and Wildlife staff along the boardwalk and learn about Aboriginal bush tucker and the history of the Sea Acres area as you wander through the dense canopy. Otherwise, stroll at your own pace and enjoy the serenity of the sounds of nature. Also accessed through the gift shop is the Rainforest Café and access to the outside eating area on the open deck is only through the café. The rainforest canopy shades the deck so there’s no need for a roof and the café itself is made of endless glass to allow as much natural light in, which is tough considering the towering trees and thick foliage. Although a no-brainer for me, my friends find it tough to choose from the extensive ‘sweets’ menu. I’m happy to see the humble Devonshire Tea make it up on to the board and that the fluffy scones coming out of the kitchen are homemade, and just the right size for a snack. The jam is fairly average and the whipped cream chilled and firm – I just wish there was more of it.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

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

Price: $$

Overall: Dine under the shady canopy to the backdrop of rainforest bird life.

Location: Sea Acres Rainforest Visitor Centre, 159 Pacific Dr, Port Macquarie NSW 2444
Ph: 02 6582 3355 www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Visitor-centres/Sea-Acres-Rainforest-Centre

Reviewed August, 2015

 

Graze @ Denman

DT@Graze Cafe @ Denman#2

Denman in the Upper Hunter is horse country. The place has more horse studs than you can shake a stick at as well as enough wineries so you still know you’re in the Hunter Valley region. It’s a beautiful sunny day and every table in the front courtyard of Graze @ Denman is taken so my next option for a seat is in one of the rooms inside. The renovated timber house has beautiful stained glass windows and soaring pressed metal ceilings, and the walls are adorned with local artwork that provides a diversion while waiting for food to arrive. Although it’s not yet 12pm, I’m lucky to nab the last scone – I apologise to those hoping for an afternoon Devonshire Tea delight. Luckily the scone is on the large side and is wholesome and creamy, just how I like them.  There’s also plenty of thickly whipped fresh cream, which masks the average jam. I do like it when I have more jam and cream than I need, especially when the scones are dense.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A buzzing eatery in a tastefully renovated house.

Location: 25 Ogilvie St, Denman NSW 2328 Ph: 02 6547 1115

Reviewed August, 2015

Mt Canobolas Tea House

DT@Mt Canobolas Tea House-Orange

I have broken scones at Mt Canobolas Tea House on many occasions, namely under the reign of the long-standing owners, which was also before it briefly became Miss Daisy’s Tea House (I somehow missed that era). The interiors feel brighter after being spruced up with a few new touches here and there, but other than that the exterior remains the same. My visit coincides with a bleak wintry day so diners are inside hovering around the fire. In warmer weather when the gardens are in full bloom, tables are brought out in to the sunshine, or shade, depending on your preference. Mt Canobolas on the outskirts of Orange is an outdoor playground for the locals, so needless to say, the tea house is well patronised. I’m also equally glad the latest owners have decided to keep scones on the menu. A tea house is not a tea house without scones, right? The scones are superb: fresh, light and creamy on the inside and encased in a delicate crispy shell. Truly exqusite. On the other hand the portions of jam and cream are frugal, and I can’t comprehend why the jam is of average quality? There is a stack of quality jams for sale, so why not showcase them? The cream too is below par; mine is almost dissolving in the tiny dish it arrives in. A shame as the Devonshire Tea would be an absolute winner if the cream and jam were up to scratch.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A range of Tea Drop pyramid tea bags served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: The Tea House is a favourite at anytime of the year.

Location: 42 Mount Canobolas Rd, Orange NSW 2800 Ph: 02 6365 3227

Reviewed August, 2015

Paragon Cafe

DT@Paragon Cafe-Parkes#

In 1993 a few Elvis Presley obsessed locals decided to run an Elvis Festival in Parkes to honour the King. Now 20 plus years later, the festival has become a firm fixture on the tourist calendar and has subsequently made unassuming Parkes, the ‘Elvis Capital of Australia’. The festival, held over five days each January, coincides with Elvis’s birthday, and attracts tens of thousands of Elvis fans, look-a-likes, and curious voyeurs from all over the country. At the Henry Parkes Museum, alongside the Motor Museum and Antique Machinery Exhibit, fans can indulge in Elvis memorabilia and learn about Henry Parkes (who by the way only briefly visited the town) after whom the town is named. After all those museums, take a perch at the window or slide into a roomy booth at the Paragon Cafe in the middle of town. The café’s name conjures up images of retro digs, but if it were the case here, there’s nothing left bar the high ceilings and cavernous space. The cafe borders on franchise blandness but I am surprised when my Devonshire Tea arrives. The scones are already sliced, and although the tops are a bit dry are not only edible but also quite pleasant, but don’t expect nanna’s quality. The jam is average but wins points for being thick and not sugar syrup, but the standout is the thick freshly whipped cream, which makes this Devonshire Tea worth a try.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: An overall good spread at a handy location in the middle of town.

Location: 278 Clarinda St, Parkes NSW 2870 Ph: 02 6862 6885

Reviewed August, 2015

The Dish Cafe

DT@Dish Cafe-Parkes#3

About 15 years ago, The Dish, a movie recounting the Parkes telescopic radio’s role in relaying live television of man’s first steps on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. The fictionalised storyline didn’t just do great things for the actors and the Australian movie industry but also inspired hordes of visitors to the Observatory’s doorstep. This is my second visit in the last 14 years, and the visitors centre has certainly changed, creating a better visitor experience. The café is one of the changes. With ground to ceiling glass, the views of the radio telescope are sensational and diners don’t have to take their eyes off the prize while they eat. Although I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed. Going to a café with high expectations is never good. The brochure says that the café has won several local tourism awards and reviews on Trip Advisor mention the blackberry jam. As pleasing on the eye as it is, the café looks very ordinary by day with a Streets ice-cream fridge along the wall, plastic high-chairs in the corner, and a pay and order at the counter system. Maybe at night and for events it is transformed? The scones have great potential, but on this Saturday morning they taste a bit stale and are fairly dry. They are tarted up with a sprinkle of icing sugar but they really could be better. It’s fig jam today rather than the anticipated blackberry, which is both an interesting and welcome choice. The cream is very light and airy and barely makes an impression on the scones. The Dish Cafe’s gourmet store occupies a few shelves in a corner of the café and is filled with relishes, jams, oils etc., sourced locally and branded for the café.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: After seeing the movie, a visit to The Dish is almost a rite of passage.

Location: CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, 476 Telescope Rd, Parkes NSW 2870
Ph: 02 6862 1566 www.dishcafe.com.au

  

Reviewed August, 2015

Temple Lion Patisserie

DT@Temple Lion Patisserie-Peak Hill#2

The main reason for my visit to Peak Hill, halfway between Dubbo and Parkes on the Newell Highway, is the ‘Open Cut Mine Experience’. A couple of minutes from town, the five open cut mines and original gold diggings from the 1890s it became a tourist attraction after it closed down in 2002. The myriad walking tracks, and viewpoints over the mines are free, and tours can be organised for groups of 10 or more. I missed the ‘big fish’ at the Big Fish Fossil Hut as I had more pressing things to do – like eat scones. The Temple Lion Patisserie is under the same business banner, and roof, as the Temple Lion Antiques and Collectibles. It’s in a magnificent heritage building that originally sold farm machinery, and later, where I sit munching scones, was a mechanics workshop – the sloped floor and doors are a giveaway. I settle in next to the fire for surprisingly good sultana scones that even though are a tad salty are fresh and edible. The jam is average but the cream is a let down as it’s super duper light and inconsequential to the overall taste of the Devonshire Tea.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of Liptons tea bags served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A one-stop antique, collectibles, lolly and cake shop under one heritage roof.

Location: Temple Lions Antiques & Collectables, 96 Caswell St, Peak Hill NSW 2869 Ph: 02 6863 4249 

Reviewed July, 2015