Old Sofala Gaol Cafe

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Established during the 1850s gold rush, Sofala is touted as the oldest surviving gold town in Australia. More sleepy village than bustling business centre these days, Sofala is a pretty village that still attracts the odd fossicker to try their luck in the Turon River. Crammed with unique historic buildings, Sofalas’ standout properties include the Royal Hotel and the Old Sofala Gaol, that is more museum, shop and cafe than eerie gaol. The Old Sofala Gaol Cafe is cosy and warm on this winter’s day. Rather than stay stationary waiting for the Devonshire Tea to arrive, potter around the museum that houses a large collection of memorabilia from many locations as well as from Sofala’s early days. There’s also a room full of collectibles to rummage through. The original police residence has been transformed into a Bed & Breakfast, and offers four rooms and for groups, the old Joe Yates cottage across the road is available. The menu lists plain and date scones, so naturally I try one of each. The presentation on a breadboard with a garnish of strawberries is impressive, however the scones are tough, probably from being over heated. The jam is forgettable but forgivable due the lashings of slightly sweet whipped ‘real’ cream. Open Friday to Monday.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small range of loose-leaf teas from Fish River Roasters is served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: An historic landmark in a former gold rush village.

Location: Barkly St, Sofala NSW 2795 Ph: 02 6337 7064
Reviewed in June 2016
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Aqua Bar & Dining

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With images of poker machines, sticky carpets and bain-marie lunches and dinners in mind, I head to the Dee Why RSL Club on Sydney’s northern beaches. You can imagine my surprise when I step through huge sliding doors to find a schmick if not cavernous club with not a bain-marie in sight. After a makeover a few years ago, Dee Why RSL is all floor to ceiling glass, water features and big open spaces and contemporary design and neutral tones. Although the club offers a plethora of drinking and dining choices, destination is Aqua Bar & Dining, the club’s all-day dining option. The cake cabinet is piled high with plain and date scones, and although there are two per serve – by chef’s orders, I must stick to only one option. This is a tad annoying, as I really don’t see the issue with not being able to have one of each. After much deliberation, I go with the date scones, which are fresh and moist. The lousy two tiny sachets of Kraft strawberry jam aren’t sufficient and the cream, although there’s plenty of it, is light and airy.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A basic range of Aurora tea bags

Price: $$

Overall: Bright, cheery and schmick.

Location: Dee Why RSL, 932 Pittwater Rd, Dee Why NSW 2099 Ph: 02 9454 4000
Reviewed in June 2016

Basil Nut Cafe & Restaurant

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Basil Nut Cafe & Restaurant is the latest business to occupy this particular Katoomba premises. I’ve been to three different cafes here in the last seven years, and funnily enough they have all offered a Devonshire Tea. You might not think this worthy of a mention, but the weird thing is that Basil Nut’s menu has a Modern Asian twist, and to find a Devonshire Tea amongst the Laksas, noodles and Asian Tapas is kind of irregular. The owners are definitely doing something right because Basil Nut has bums on seats, and that’s the most important thing. The Katoomba Arcade gets a lot of foot traffic as it links Katoomba’s main drag, Katoomba Street, to the Woolworths and Big W carpark, so it’s a prime location for the locals. The indoor seating is cosy seating, and the outdoor seating, especially the area serviced by the bar type window out he back, is on the bleak side; all cement with thin slivers of sun peaking through. Choose from either a single or a double serving of scones, which are better than average. The jam doesn’t rate much, tasting like a cheap supermarket variety; super sweet. The cream is so light and synthetic it dissolves quickly and has me thinking it’s from a can. Maybe I am just fussy, but a couple of ladies from The Netherlands via Sydney had no complaints.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A conveniently located popular lunch spot.

Location: Shop 5 Katoomba Arcade, 147-153 Katoomba St, Katoomba NSW 2780
Ph: 02 4782 1294 bnkatoomba.com
Reviewed in May, 2016

 

 

Jimini’s Cafe

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Jimini’s Cafe is just outside the entrance to ALDI at Westfield Shopping Centre in Hornsby. The cafe’s seating spills out into the concourse so it’s easier to watch the shopping world go by. I’m happy to see that a Devonshire Tea is on the menu, however not so impressed when my scones come out soggy, and flat like the life had been sucked out of them. The cream is exceptionally light and the jam is a bit below average in quality. The cafe is literally adjacent to The Tea Centre, a store specialising in quality loose-leaf tea and everything that goes with it, and although Jimini’s has a few of The Tea Centre brews on offer, a few more wouldn’t go astray.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A convenient option.

Location: Westfield Hornsby, 236 Pacific Hwy, Hornsby NSW 2077
Ph: 02 9476 2173 jiminis.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2016

Farm View Cafe

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Travellers heading to Mudgee for a wine fuelled weekend, may want to line their stomachs en route at the Farm View Cafe. Located in tiny Running Stream on the Castlereagh Highway connecting Lithgow to Mudgee, the friendly Farm View Cafe is pretty much the only sign of civilisation, if you don’t count the couple of basic options in Capertee. On chilly days there’s plenty of seating indoors including some comfy lounges, and when the sun is shining, there’s a courtyard style dining area out the front. Kids can run amok in the fenced grassy area, which leaves you free to enjoy the light and fluffy lemonade scones. A dish with three flavours of jam arrives alongside a very generous helping of thickly whipped cream – wonderful! Luckily the scones are well sized to accommodate the abundance of toppings. I recognise strawberry and raspberry jam, and not a third, and kick myself for not asking, but I swear one of them is doubled up. Open from Thursday to Sunday and public holidays.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A combination of loose-leaf and teabag teas are available, and are served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: What better place to break the journey on the lonely strip of highway between Lithgow and Mudgee.

Location: 5989 Castlereagh Hwy, Running Stream NSW 2850 Ph: 0411 106 959
 
Reviewed in April, 2016