After living in Sydney for so long, you learn not to take your car in to the CBD. So when I visit Newcastle, it feels weird to be able to nab a parking spot easily. Newcastle’s small population and hence chilled lifestyle, is a bit of a shock for those of us who live in the Big Smoke. With the closure of Newcastle train station, the East Newcastle feels quiet, even the vagrants have taken over the now defunct grand old Post Office across the road from Cirque Cafe and Restaurant. Nonetheless the cafe does a roaring trade. The cafe may have been a bank in its former life as notice a walk in vault that’s now used as a pantry. The ceilings are sky-high which makes the place feel enormous, but if you prefer fresh air there are a few tables out on the footpath. The two small buttermilk scones are crisp on the outside and warm and light on the inside. The tart raspberry jam is a treat, but talk about portion distortion in the opposite direction – there is barely enough for one scone. When I ask for another small petri dish of jam, the waitress is happy to oblige. The cream is a kind of Chantilly cream, I can see the vanilla bean, but it’s very light and aerated.
Tea: A small choice of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.
Overall: Handy location, close to East Newcastle, and Newcastle and Nobbys Beach.