Wollemi Bakery & Cafe

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The Wollemi Bakery and Cafe is the only cafe in town that the Lithgow Visitors Centre could point me to that ‘might’ have scones – it’s a 50:50 chance really. Although the cafe is huge, at lunchtime it’s hard to find a vacant seat. Apart from the bakery/cafe kitchen in one corner, another corner houses Treasures Giftware and another area is designated to a kiddies playground. It’s not hard to gather who the clientele are, but on this Friday lunchtime there are as many men in high-vis clothing as there are women with kids. Although there are scones, there are no DTs as such on the menu, but I make sure that there is a jam/cream option before ordering. Choosing the plain scone over the date, I ask for no butter (or rather margarine) and for it to be heated. When it finally arrives it is already coated in margarine, average jam and a squirt of sickly sweet cream from an aerosol can – you know the one. The scone is cold as it’s been sitting in the cake fridge, and reminds me of the scones served in England, although they are at room temperature. It’s an inexpensive option if you are hankering for scones and the rest of your party want a pie or hamburger.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small variety of Twinings tea bags served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A lively bakery cafe with an allocated corner to keep kiddies amused.

Location: 203 Main St, Lithgow NSW 2790 Ph: 02 6352 5405
Reviewed in August, 2016

The Log Press Cafe

DT@The Log Press Cafe-Pokolbin

The Drayton’s have been producing wine for over 150 years, and are one of a few wineries that are still family-owned. The cellar door is a popular stop on tasting itineraries so always expect to hustle for a place at the tasting bar. On the other hand, if wine tasting is not on the agenda, The Log Press Cafe, right next door (you’ll walk through it on the way to the bar), is a pleasant functional cafe to grab a bite to eat or hang around for a longer lunch. Scones are listed on the menu and can be ordered by numbers rather than as a set. They are homemade and fairly fresh even mid-afternoon. On first sight, the scone looks anaemic and it doesn’t help that it’s dissected (not a great presentation). The jam is sickly sweet and nothing remarkable, but the fresh cream is thickly whipped and makes up for the mediocre jam. It’s light and bright and a pleasant place to be when in chilly weather. There are a few tables outside if you want to soak up some vitamin D.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A standard range of tea bags served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A handy location in the same building as the cellar door.

Location: Drayton’s Wines, 555 Oakey Creek Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 
Ph: 02 4998 7513 draytonswines.com.au
Reviewed in July, 2016

Two Fat Blokes

DT@Two fat Blokes-De Iuliis Winery#

Two Fat Blokes certainly get around. The previous day I see their van pull in to the Peppertree cellar door and laugh at the apt name for a food and wine tour. It’s after I visit De Luliis wines cellar door that I realise that Two Fat Blokes are not just a quirky name but also a serious food business. The restaurant space they inhibit is rather large and spills out onto a covered cobblestone courtyard and further onto lush lawns where umbrella shaded picnic benches sit side by side. Attached to the restaurant is a shop selling produce such as meat and cheese, which is far beyond the usual condiments of oil, chutney and jam, although these too are available. We arrive fairly late, and close to closing time. By days end, the scones aren’t in great shape and my scone turns up a tad dehydrated. The jam is the average bulk purchase type many cafes serve, and the cream is super light. The location is truly a relaxing spot, far from the madding Hunter Valley crowds, and it’s only a hop, skip, and jump to the cellar door.
Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good selection of Tea Tonic loose-leaf teas served in a plunger pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A gorgeous bushland setting looking over vast lawns.

Location: De Luliis Wines, 1616 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 Ph: 0414 316 859
Reviewed in July, 2016

Little Pantry Co.

DT@Little Pantry-Hunter Valley Gardens

Nestled in the middle of the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village, it would be easy for Little Pantry Co. to go undetected. With no view to speak of, the corner cafe gets a lot of passing trade purely because of it’s position on the busiest pedestrian stretch of the shopping/restaurant precinct. Plus it’s adjacent to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company shop, which is an unbelievable people magnet. The cafe has a corner dedicated to loose-leaf teas and pretty teaware if you are interested in a little shopping while you wait. Plain and date scones are usually available, but we are a tad late so settle for what’s left – date scones. With just the right injection of heat, the date scones present well and taste even better, although savoury lovers may balk at the over-sweetness. The raspberry jam is good enough, but is neither memorable nor spoiling. Unfortunately the let down here, is the cream. It’s super light and sweet and it wouldn’t surprise me if it came from a can, as it tastes synthetic. Impressed with the Planet Organic teas available.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good range of Planet Organic loose-leaf teas.

Price: $$

Overall: A convenient location in the middle of the shopping village.

Location: Hunter Valley Garden Shopping Village, 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: 0459 302 094
Reviewed in July, 2016

The Shaggy Cow

DT@The Shaggy Cow-Mittagong#3

With a name like The Shaggy Cow, why wouldn’t you check it out? The Shaggy Cow is another bright and light quality Mittagong café endeavoring to entice travellers making a beeline for Bowral or Berrima. It’s buzzing the lunchtime I drop in, but there’s plenty of room in the large space, including the seating out the front and in the alleyway for warmer days. There’s no set Devonshire Tea on the menu, so you can order as many scones as you like. My scone is delectable: soft, fluffy and with a creamy texture. Just as well, because coupled with the rich double thick cream, you barely notice the very average strawberry jam. Brownie points for the warm and friendly service, as it keeps out-of-towners feeling warm and fuzzy.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A vibey cafe.

Location: 112 Main St, Mittagong NSW 2575 Ph: 02 4872 2966
Reviewed in July, 2016

Brewsters Cafe

DT@Brewster's Cafe-Mittagong#

Brewster Cafe manager, Steve Evans, is an affable host. He’s welcoming and loves a chat about the cafe’s decor, which is consists of British memorabilia and a vinyl record collection that probably is better described as wallpaper. According to statistics in a recent edition of the SMH Good Weekend, record or LP sales (or demand for) are now on the rise. As they say, everything old is new again, and it was only going to be a matter of time when the hipsters were in the market for stereos and vinyl records. For the record (no pun intended), Steve is not a hipster, and it’s not that sort of cafe – it is the Southern Highlands after all, not Surry Hills. However, the cafe is bright with a welcoming refectory table taking up much of the floorspace. There are a few tables out on the footpath and a simple courtyard out the back, which is decorated with fairy lights when the cafe is open at night. Scones are single serve, which is great if you are travelling solo or just want a snack. The lemonade scones are robust and err on the heavy rather than light and fluffy side. The thickly whipped cream is lovely and slightly sweet, and gives a boost to the stock standard strawberry jam. The cafe is an absolute delight, but I’m biased, as I love all things British!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good range of loose-leaf and tea bag teas served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A fun and friendly cafe for vinyl lovers.

Location: 18 Bowral Rd, Mittagong NSW 2575 Ph: 02 4872 1466
Reviewed in July, 2016

Taste of the Country

DT@Taste if the Country-Hunter Valley Gardens#2

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the heart of the Hunter Valley wine region is, although if I had to guess, I would say it is The Hunter Valley Gardens Village in Pokolbin. The restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as The Mercure Resort are a hive of activity. When I visit the Winter Festival is in full swing, plus the Hunter Valley Gardens are open for a stroll. One of several cafes offering a Devonshire Tea is Taste of the Country, a sort of country themed eatery. There are a couple of life-size cow replicas outside that attract the attention of kids who are keen to pose for photos. Looking over the grassy meeting point in the centre of the village, the cafe offers indoor and outdoor seating in a relaxed setting. The scones are light and creamy but have a slight after taste that remind me of scones made from a pre-mix. The chilled whipped cream is the stand out and overrides the average strawberry jam.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A variety of black, green and herbal Twining teas (tea bags) served in a plunger pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: A fun themed cafe where kids will be wowed by the life-size cows.

Location: Shop 11, Hunter Valley Gardens Village, 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320
Ph: 02 4998 6605

Reviewed in July, 2016

The Deck Cafe

DT@The Deck Cafe-Lovedale

Lovedale in the Hunter Valley wine region is like a breath of fresh air after the tourist mecca of Pokolbin, feeling far removed from the wine tasting tour buses and the usual crowds. The inviting Gartelmann Winery cellar door shares fine views with The Deck Cafe that’s perched on the edge of a picturesque billabong. The setting is enough to draw the crowds, and that it does. We arrive at mid morning on a Sunday without a reservation, and boy don’t we know it. Although there are some free tables, we’re told that there’s nothing available so we opt, even after the waitress tells us she will not be drying them for us, for the wet lounge chairs in the open. To be honest, in general the service is appalling, and one particular waitress needs an attitude adjustment. When we eventually receive our scones, the nicer waitress seems surprised that we are sitting on the wet furniture and ushers us back on to the deck to an empty table, saying that they’ve had a cancellation. We notice many cancellations, and I don’t understand why diners, if they agree to be quick (like us), can’t take a reserved table until the customers arrive. Surely this is a win-win situation for both customer and cafe owner? If you manage to avoid the surly waitress it’s a lovely spot. Peruse the oil, jam and chutney for sale from Matt’s Produce collection, and sample the rich summer berry and vanilla scented jam that’s served with the scones. The scones are perhaps another drawcard as they are well-sized, fresh, fluffy and hard to fault. The chilled and firm Chantilly cream is exquisite with more than a hint of vanilla, and is a real stand out. The servings of the jam and cream are far too small for the size of the scones, so we flag down a friendly waitress and request some more with no issues or surcharge.

Scones: 

Jam:

Cream: 

Tea: An interesting selection of loose-leaf and tea bag tea served in a Japanese iron teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A sensational location by the billabong, but shame about the surly service.

Location: 701 Lovedale Rd, Rothbury NSW 2320 Ph: 02 4930 9007 deckcafelovedale.com.au
Reviewed in July, 2016

Paragon Cafe

DT@Paragon Cafe-Goulburn#

The Paragon Cafe in Goulburn has been serving Greek dishes and cafe standards since 1940. Can you believe it? The cavernous space is more restaurant than cafe and reminds me of what a dance hall from that era, if you cleared out the furniture, might look like. It’s all hustle and bustle on a mid-week afternoon. It’s so hectic and big; you’d think it was Yum Cha in Sydney’s Chinatown! However, there’s nothing Chinese about the Paragon. It’s all booths and mirrored walls and one helluva long bar down almost one side of the restaurant. The menu is seriously extensive; expect old school dishes, so kale and quinoa devotees should look elsewhere. I am so excited to be here (I love anything with a history and booths), that I am flustered by the chock-a-block menu and can’t locate the Devonshire Tea. It’s certainly there, and the no fuss and efficient service has me tucking into light and fluffy scones in no time. I am disappointed by the sachets of jam – it seems a tad lazy. At least the super light cream taste’s like it’s from a cream canister as opposed to the sweet and sickly hybrid cream from a can, that’s a plus.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A step back in time with a menu to match.

Location:  Ph: 02 4821 3566 paragoncafe.com.au
Reviewed in July, 2016

Berrima Farmgate Cafe

DT@Farmgate Cafe-Berrima

Looking pretty is the norm rather than the exception in historic Berrima. Compared to most of the other cafes, you might say that the Berrima Farmgate Cafe looks like the plain Jane in a good-looking family. At first glance, the cafe, which feels tucked away although on a main-ish thoroughfare, doesn’t feel as though it has a lot of atmosphere and looks more like a takeaway shop rather than a cafe. However, take a quick look at Trip Advisor and it seems to be doing things right. I spot the Devonshire Tea up on the ‘take-away joint’ style menu on the wall, and take a seat in the larger part of the cafe under a rusty old farm gate pinned to the wall. There’s also the option to sit outside on the shady footpath, but it’s a bit chilly for me on a winter’s day. My scones have a creamy taste but they just won’t stop crumbling, so I end up with large pieces of scone on my plate that refuse to stay stuck together. The jam is very ordinary, erring towards the lower end on the quality scale, and there’s only enough for one scone or a very thin scrape on both. The cream is super-duper light, and I barely notice it at all! Spend your wait time checking out the random bits and bobs decorating the place.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A limited variety of loose-leaf teas served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Simple decor and less crowded (the day I visit) compared to other cafes in Berrima.

Location: Shop 5 – 6 Wingecarribe StBerrima NSW 2577 Ph: 02 4877 2785
Reviewed in July, 2016