Whichcraft and Coffee Cottage

dtwhich-craft-and-coffee-cottage

Murumburrah and Harden are like Albury and Wodonga, and Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. The differences are, they are in the same state and are only separated by a bridge. The dual township is buried in the southern extremes of the Southern Highlands where farming land was made famous by the quality Merino wool it produced. I enter through the Murumburrah side and run straight into the Whichcraft and Coffee Cottage that has a huge sign out front beckoning passers-by to come in for a Devonshire Tea. Opened in 1971 and acting as a cafe, craft store and Tourist Information centre, Whichcraft and Coffee Cottage offers the traveller more than just local information and woollen beanies. The cafe is old school, offering simple home cooked fare from decades past. The Devonshire Tea comes with two scones and a choice of apricot or strawberry jam. The scones are bite size; so don’t be shy in ordering the DT if you are hungry, but scones can be ordered singularly as well. The jam is better than the regular store-bought, but I’m not sure whether my apricot jam is homemade, even though jam is sold on the premises. There’s plenty of fresh and thickly whipped chilled cream, which tops off my scone nicely. Stock up on craft items such as tea cosies, beanies, baby’s booties and crocheted blankets.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few varieties of Twining tea bags

Price: $$

Overall: Just like Nanna’s kitchen.

Location: 1/19 Vernon St, Murrumburrah NSW 2587 Ph: 02 6386 2343
Reviewed in August, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submarine Cafe

dtsubmarine-cafe-holbrook

Have you ever wondered why a country town far from the ocean ends up with the decommissioned Australian submarine HMAS Otway? Formerly known as Germantown (among other previous names), in 1915 the town finally settled on Holbrook, in honour of Lieutenant N.D. Holbrook of the Royal Navy who was the first submariner to receive the Victoria Cross in World War I. Primarily a service centre for Hume Highway traffic, but since the recent Hume Highway bypass, Holbrook may need to work a little harder at attracting visitors. But everyone travelling the Hume wants to see the inland submarine, right? Well, yes. Many come to the Submarine Precinct to climb over HMAS Otway and to visit the museum, so Holbrook may be preserved yet, just like many of its lovely historic buildings. The aptly named Submarine Cafe looks over HMAS Otway and is the ideal spot to take in the grandeur of the vessel without actually climbing over it. It’s late in the day when I arrive and all the scones are wrapped up for the night in Cling Wrap. Warning bells go off in my head, but I’ve made the diversion, so scones from Cling Wrap it is. The order comes with two scones. They are slightly sweet, and with a bit of primping come up okay. The two sachets of jam are a let down – seriously, it’s not a breakfast buffet! The light but fresh cream is probably the best aspect of this spread, along with the fresh strawberries as garnish.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A basic selection of tea bags served in a cup, mug or teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Smashing view of the HMAS Otway submarine.

Location: LOT 2 Raymond St, Holbrook NSW 2644 Ph: 02 6036 2211 submarinecafe.com.au
Reviewed in August, 2016

The Breakout Brasserie

dtbreakout-brasserie

I assume The Breakout Brassiere in Cowra is a play on words and refers to the former Prisoner of War (POW) camp that was established in Cowra during WWII. In 1944, about 1,000 Japanese POW attempted to escape, and no doubt there were a few more ‘breakouts’, and hence the cafe’s name. Situated up a quiet side street and well away from the busy intersection where travellers convene for a break from the bitumen, The Breakout Brassiere feels like a locals hangout. With lots of outdoor seating for when the weather warms up, but blankets if you need them, indoors can get a little crowded. I visit in the morning so the scones are fresh, light and fluffy. Take the half serve option (one scone), or if you are feeling peckish, the full serve. The jam is the average cafe standard and the cream is freshly whipped and falls somewhere between being neither too light nor overly thick. Make sure to check out the Japanese Gardens and cellar doors while you are in the area.

 

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: The usual variety of loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant cafe that draws more locals than drop-ins.

Location: 5/37-39 Macquarie St, Cowra NSW 2794 Ph: 02 6342 4555
Reviewed in August, 2016

And the Winner is Oscar’s

DT@Oscar's-Hunter Valley Gardens#3

And the Winner is Oscar’s – what a strange name for a restaurant! Situated on the edge of the main lawn area at the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village, the cafe/restaurant pulls in the crowds. More of a self-serve cafe than a sit and be served restaurant, the main feature of the place is the extensive outdoor seating area that’s more than double the inside area. One of several cafes serving scones, that are all within ear shot of each other, Oscar’s pumps out the creamy and fluffy variety. However, it seems you can’t excel at everything and the spray shot of can cream and average jam proves this. Go for the lively atmosphere.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A standard selection of T2 tea bags served in a lovely teapot.

Price: $$$

Overall: Good location and buzzy vibe.

Location: Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village, 15/2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 Ph: 02 4998 7355 thewinnerisoscars.com.au
Reviewed in July, 2016

20 Mile Hollow Produce & Cafe

IMG_9654

Accessing 20 Mile Hollow Produce and Cafe is better if travelling from the west, as it’s an easy veer off the Great Western Highway. Coming up from Sydney means a bit of forward planning in order to get across the traffic island. However you get there, a lovely wrap around deck (shady and/or sunny) awaits, as well as easy parking. For mountain bikers, the location in Woodford is near a popular fire trail that heads down the mountain to Glenbrook. I see a bunch of mountain bikes in the far corner of the cafe and what looks to be a mini workshop, but I forget to ask about it and can’t find any information online. There are stack of cakes and a quickly dwindling supply of scones sitting on the counter. They are fresh and robust, and are paired well with the delicious homemade strawberry and vanilla jam, which is also sold on the premises. The rich jam is more tart than sweet, and is accompanied with an impressive serving of cream – a cross between thickly whipped cream and double thick. The cafe also runs courses such as ‘soft cheese making’, check out their Facebook page for details.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: An interesting selection of Blue Mountain loose-leaf tea served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A handy location if you are travelling east on the Great Western Highway.

Location: 68 Great Western Hwy, Woodford NSW 2778 Ph: 02 4758 8058
Reviewed in August, 2016

Nanna Kerr’s Kitchen

DT@Nanna Kerr's-Pokolbin#2

Hidden amongst the vines, Nanna Kerr’s Kitchen takes up residence in what used to be The Purple Grape. Robyn Drayton has sold up and moved out, and the Kerr’s, or should I say, Miranda Kerr’s brother and his partner, have moved in. Originally working out of a space in Lovedale, Nanna Kerr’s Kitchen is now that little bit closer to the Hunter Valley action in Pokolbin. The cosy interior as well as the welcoming timber deck is an ideal location in all seasons. It’s good to see that Nanna Kerr insists the Devonshire Tea be on the menu rather than on the specials board, where it can be dismissed if the chef isn’t in the mood for baking. The scones are slightly crisp, and light and fluffy inside, and considering it is late in the day, this is a positive. The consistency of the homemade strawberry jam is too thin and runny, and there is barely enough for one scone. The whipped cream is quite aerated but is good enough. I love the presentation, the fruit selection brightens up the plate, and the passionfruit is a nice touch. Open from Thursday to Monday.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: An eclectic range of mostly organic tea (tea bags) served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A gorgeous location overlooking the vines.

Location: 16 Pokolbin Mountains Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 Ph: 0427 679 887
 Reviewed in July, 2016

 

Cronulla Pie Shop

DT@Cronulla Pie Shop#3

If you don’t count Bundeena village on the southern side of Port Hacking, Cronulla is about as far south as you can go and still be in Sydney. On weekends the beach destination is a hive of activity, and to cater to the hungry crowds, Cronulla has bucket loads of cafes. Take a stroll through the shopping precinct for a smorgasboard of choice. You’ll virtually trip over the Cronulla Pie Shop as it is smack bang in the middle of the pedestrian mall. The all-weather seating area, including heaters in winter, is tarted up with fresh flowers to make it feel more cafe than canvas marquee. If you can get past the fruit pies, the fresh fluffy scones are surprisingly good – it is a pie shop after all. So too is the double thick cream. The weakest link is the jam, which is neither memorable nor bad.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Handy location that’s cosy in winter and cool in summer.

Location: 33 Cronulla St, Cronulla NSW 2230 Ph: 02 9544 4209
Reviewed in August, 2016

The Tangled Vine Cafe

DT@The Tangled Vine-Taralga#

Apart from the pub, there aren’t a lot of choices in Taralga when it comes to curbing hunger pains. Thirty minutes north of Goulburn, the Taralga Hotel attracts day-trippers, motorbike riders, and those passing through to other destinations. Towards the northern part of town, The Tangled Vine Cafe sits alongside a couple of other businesses and is one of the few eating options in town. If there is no one seated in the sunny area out the front of the cafe, it can look closed – I made that mistake a couple of times, so make sure to try the door. Once inside browse the old wares for sale, or snuggle up by the fire if it’s that sort of weather. The bite-size scones are perfect if you’ve had a big lunch or if dinner is not far off. The presentation is pretty with fresh strawberries, although the jam is average and the cream is light and tastes synthetic like it’s out of a can. A high-five for the bone china tea cup and saucer, it’s always a pleasure drinking out of a proper cup – shame about the ALDI Diplomat teabag though.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The standard tea variety. A Diplomat tea bag served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A sweet cafe in a chilled village.

Location: 79 Orchard Rd, Taralga NSW 2580 Ph: 02 4840 2929
Reviewed in July, 2016

Mojos The Deli

DT@Mojo's Deli-Lovedale#3
Mojos The Deli feels as though it is in the wilderness rather than just on Wilderness Road. It’s not far from the attractions in Lovedale and the rest of the Hunter Valley, but feels a thousand miles away. Although there is a restaurant, Mojos on Wilderness that is open six nights a week, by day on the weekends The Deli serves gourmet picnic fare out on the lawn. The service is pretty slow considering there’s only one couple before us, but it’s well worth the wait. Plus who wouldn’t want to hang out in the chilled garden? Beanbag or deck chair, anyone? The perfect sized scones are slightly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, and are simply delectable. However, the crème de la crème of this DT is the exquisite creamy lemon butter – it’s the best I’ve ever had. The serving is more than generous and we lick the bowl clean. The cream is freshly whipped and lovely and thick, matching the quantity of the lemon butter. Open Friday to Monday from 9am until 3pm.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few Madura tea varieties and Chai tea served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A sensational mellow alternative that feels off-the-beaten wine trail.

Location: 84 Wilderness Rd, Lovedale NSW 2325 Ph: 02 4930 7244
Reviewed in July, 2016

Restaurant Eighty Eight

DT@Eighty Eight, Peppers Convent-Pokolbin#2

The Convent, once home to the Brigidine order of nuns in Coonamble, looks imposing sitting at the end of the long driveway. The building’s resurrection some 600km from its construction offers the ideal destination for a romantic and indulgent weekend getaway. In winter the trees lining the driveway lose their leaves, so visitors to Roscrea Estate and Peppertree Wines cellar door cannot but notice the distinct property that sits to the left of the tasting rooms. To the right is Circa 1876, a Hatted Restaurant housed in an historic cottage that begs to be explored. Restaurant Eighty Eight in The Convent, serves Devonshire and High Teas in plush interiors around the fire in the lounge or in more private rooms for groups. The Wisteria Courtyard out the back looks towards the resort pool, and I can only imagine would be gorgeous in spring and summer. The arrival of our Devonshire Teas takes longer than usual. When I bite into my slightly crispy but oh so light scone, I know why, they are fresh out of the oven. The strawberry jam, although housemade, is a let down. It’s tart but tasteless and too liquid, dripping off my scone rather than settling to cradle the cream. There’s more than enough of the lightly whipped cream to go around, and the excess, if desired, can be used with the handful of fresh mixed berries. The bone china tea ware is a nice touch, and should be the norm, rather than the exception.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A standard selection of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a large teapot.

Price: $$$

Overall: Decadent venue that matches the decadent spread.

Location: The Convent Hunter Valley, 88 Halls Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 Ph: 02 4998 4999
Reviewed in July, 2016