Red Stag Restaurant

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The view from the deck of the Red Stag Restaurant is probably the best in the Ovens Valley. In the distance are the snowy peaks of the Victorian Alps, and in the valley below a lake sits amongst lush meadows dotted with deer. Most people come to the Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm for the up-close-and-personal experience with the animals, but stay for the awesome view, and the feeling of being on top of the world. I find it fascinating staring into the brown eyes of a deer, and wondering how he withstands the weight of those magnificent antlers. There are also emus, ostriches, and sheep, plus a variety of hens scrounging around the carpark – the kids will love it. The extensive restaurant makes use of its location perched over the valley, so sit on the deck if you can and take advantage of the view. The DT is slightly untraditional with one massive scone that could be mistaken for a bread roll. It tastes like it’s made from a packet mix, but maybe that’s the sweetness talking. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a worthy choice. There’s plenty of the berry compote-style jam and thickly whipped cream, which is perfect considering the size of the scone.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Some Tea Tonic loose-leaf teas and a drawer full of boxes of tea bags, so you are sure to find something. The tea is served in a tall glass – odd.

Price: $$

Overall: Go for the location, and the animals.

Location: 324 Hughes Ln, Eurobin VIC 3739 Ph: 03 5756 2365 redstag.com.au
Reviewed in August, 2016

Cafe Borella

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Cafe Borellas is named in honour of Albury local, Captain Albert Borella who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918. The place is massive. With a large collection of air conditioned/heated rooms perfect for groups, there are also a couple of outdoors courtyards if you prefer to be out in the elements. The cafe is part of the Peard’s Complex, which includes a plant nursery, a homeware store, and a beauty centre, and makes it too easy to whittle away the day. I’m not one for giving full marks as food is so subjective, and what’s good for one person is not necessarily good for another. However, you can’t do much better than arriving at a cafe when the scones are still cooling on the tray. It’s 9am and heading towards morning teatime, and these babies are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. There’s also a choice of date or plain, but I stick to Jane, preferring to get my sugar hit from the jam rather than the dates. The cream is chilled and double thick, but unfortunately the jam is below average, just a scoop of jellied sweetness. While you are there, spend some time checking out the collection of wartime memorabilia.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of T2 loose leaf teas served in a standard sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A huge semi sophisticated garden centre cafe with a lick of Aussie wartime history.

Location: 117 Borella Rd, East Albury NSW 2640 Ph: 02 6023 7888 peards.com.au

Reviewed in August, 2016

Alpine Gate Cafe

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The Alpine Gate Cafe feels like it’s the central hub in Myrtleford. It’s attached to the Visitor’s Centre, so already has a steady stream of potential customers filing past the scones. It’s seriously buzzing inside and I can barely hear myself think. So I brave the wintersun and find a sunny spot in the dining area out the front so I can watch the Myrtleford world go by. And that it does. Passing traffic head up to Bright and further up to the Victorian Alps in search of white gold during the winter months, and mountain biking and hiking in summer. Myrtleford is definitely a pit stop town with the loos across the road in the park, well utilised. I’m here for the scones and although they are a bit soggy from a blast in the microwave, they are still damn good! Smooth and creamy, these scones live up to their reputation on the Internet streets. Being served a disproportionate amount of jam and cream, is a pet hate of mine, as often scones are left high dry. In this instance I barely have enough of the rich tart berry compote style of jam for one scone, but more than enough of the thickly whipped cream. Go figure!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small range of loose-leaf teas served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: An ideal pit stop for refeulling.

Location: 38 Great Alpine Rd, Myrtleford VIC 3737 Ph: 03 5752 1375
Reviewed in August, 2016

Wilders Bakery

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Young is the sort of place you pass through, maybe stopping for a pit stop at a bakery en route to elsewhere. Bigger than Ben Hur, bakery fans will love Wilders Bakery. The business has been baking since the 1950s and over the years has expanded to the vast cafe it is today. From the outside it reminds me of a modernised wild west pub with the second story verandah, but clearly it’s just my imagination as it’s definitely 2016 all the way through from the furnishings to the colour of the decor. Seating moves between cosy corners dotted with armchairs to outdoor seating on the verandah or by the entrance on the footpath. The building is cavernous and it feels as though the bakery counter and clusters of seating rattles around in the place. Orders are taken at the bakery counter and when they eventually find you (it’s a big place), are delivered to your table. Plain and date scones are available, and I stick with the traditional, which is better than average when it comes to bakery scones. The chilled whipped cream is slightly sweet and saves this DT, why spoil it with sachet jam? If you are a bakery person then Wilders Bakery is a must. The upstairs light shades are made from old flourmill sacks and are impressive.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: The usual variety of Lipton tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A mother of a bakery that has been serving Young for generations.

Location: 207-209 Boorowa St, Young NSW 2594 Ph: 02 6382 1275 wilders.com.au
 
Reviewed in August, 2016

The Tea Collective

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My visit to The Tea Collective starts with a squirt of scented water over the top of my head. Like a smoking ceremony, this Tea Project ritual is supposed to cleanse and help me relax. But I know it’s really about preparing my head for the mind-boggling choice of teas on the quirky tea menu. It’s a big ask to narrow down your choice to a single tea from a starting line of 70. With names like Irish Rum and Cream, Cream Tea Sauvignon and the cheeky Novocastrian Breakfast, it’s an unfair burden to put on a customer. There’s a tea for every taste; chai, green tea blends, oolong, white, herbal – it’s insane! Luckily the selective food choices are top-notch. The melt-in-your-mouth scone tastes dreamily creamy and fresh, and pairs well with the delicate flavours of the housemade rose water jam. The fresh cream is on the light side, but the sprinkle of rose petal tea leaves takes it up a rung on the presentation ladder and wins me over. After spending so much time hovering over the menu I try hard not to leave with a bag of tea, as 50 and 100 gram take home packs are available. NB: Since my visit, The Tea Project changed its name to The Tea Collective and moved to Cooks Hill. The details have been updated accordingly.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A sensational selection of award-winning (yes truly) house blended loose-leaf teas served in either a pot for one or two.

Price: $$$

Overall: A tea world hipster vibe.

Location: Upstairs of The Autumn Rooms, 127 Darby St, Cooks Hill NSW 2300
Ph: 02 49061125 theteacollective.com.au
Reviewed in September, 2016