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