Bischoff’s Cafe

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As soon as you turn into the tree-covered length of driveway, you can sense that Bischoff’s Cafe is going to be a good one. It’s easy to find, just head east from Currie in the direction of Naracoopa. It’s on the chilly side today and the cafe windows are shut tight so there’s neither a clear view nor a fresh breeze, put plenty of light streaming through the corrugated plastic sheets that act as the window of the place. Once again it’s one of those King Island businesses that is run from the owner’s abode, but this one is probably the fanciest. The chunky timber furnishings and cheery tropical cushions plus the opportunity to buy some locally made goods like skin products, as well as free range eggs and loose-leaf teas from Tassie, make this a ‘must-go-to ‘ when on King Island. If not for the good-sized homemade scones served on a breadboard alongside dainty tea ware, then for anything else on the menu. The strawberry jam tastes homemade, but I could be wrong. It has a smooth texture and reminds me of my own homemade jams. The cream is none other than King Island cream, but doesn’t have the same clotted cream texture as the others I’ve had on the island. However, it’s still thicker than most creams I’ve been served and is superb. The kiwi fruit garnish is a nice touch. The Art of Tea is a local Tassie favourite, and I had forgotten how good it is!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: The Art of Tea loose-leaf tea served in a huge pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Cute and cosy serving quality goodies.

Location: Bischoff RdKing Island TAS Ph: 0409 331 316

Reviewed in December, 2016


Cafe Brewer

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On a quiet road between Grassy and the main town of Currie, the Cafe Brewer sign stands out like, well, you get the picture. There’s nothing but bush and cattle, and then the blue and white sign. The cafe is on the back of a house, and is a semi outdoor affair where walls/windows can be peeled back to let in the breeze in warmer weather and keep it cosy in cooler weather. If you are in the market for a potted plant or two there is a small collection for sale. My scone is impressive, and I could easily eat a couple. The raspberry jam is a nice change from the usual strawberry but it’s nothing extraordinary. The beautiful King Island cream is as clotted as I’ve ever had in Australia, and I wonder why we can’t buy it on the mainland. What a shame!

Scones: 

Jam: 

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Tea: A handful of basic Lipton tea bags served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A welcoming deck cafe down an unassuming driveway.

Location: 525 Old Grassy Rd, Lynwood, King Island TAS 7256 Ph: 03 6461 12256

Reviewed in December, 2016

Harbour Road Cafe

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The town of Currie sits on the windward side of King Island where the Roaring Forty winds literally roar up from Antarctica. The tiny town centre, which is a small collection of essential shops, a bank and a few cafes, is set back from the harbour therefore protected from the elements. The Harbour Road Cafe located in a cute timber house with polished floors and high ceilings is on the road leading down to the harbour, so you won’t miss its colourful signage if heading that way out of town. There’s plenty of seating both inside, and out on the verandah that can be opened up in warmer weather. There are quite a few homemade goodies available including the scones. On this day, the scones are a bit dry, but have the potential to be lovely if fresher. The strawberry jam is average, neither good nor bad, and I’m spoilt with a serving of heavenly rich King Island cream.

Scones: 

Jam: 

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Tea: An interesting selection of McIver loose-leaf teas as well as some Twinings tea, all served in a small pot with an extra pot of hot water on the side.

Price: $$

Overall: A cute and comfy cafe with a smashing deck for fine weather.

Location: 24 Edward StCurrie, King Island TAS 7256 Ph: 03 6462 1807

Reviewed in December, 2016

Bert’s Cafe

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I wouldn’t call Naracoopa on the east coast of King Island a town, as it’s more like a sleepy hamlet. A collection of homes, a few holiday rentals and accommodation, a phone booth, and one cafe that invites guests to sit on the wrap around deck. Welcome to Bert’s Cafe, which also doubles up as Bert and his wife’s home. From their deck there are mesmerising panoramic views of Sea Elephant Bay, and a stroll south will lead to the century old Naracoopa jetty, a popular stomping ground for fishermen/women, and anyone passing by. Bert says that his buttermilk scones are the best on the island. It’s a big call, and you’ve got to be sure before you start blowing your own trumpet. Sorry Bert, but I think your opinion might be a tad subjective. The scones are good, no doubt about it. They are served warm, but personally they don’t taste fresh, as in, ‘fresh-that-day’. The whipped King Island cream, that could almost be clotted, it’s so good, is superb that I hardly notice the sweet and non-eventful strawberry jam. Open on weekends, but check for other days, and it’s cash only!
Scones: 

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Tea: A choice of the standard teas, all tea bags, although there is a Lipton Chai. I pay $1.00 extra for a green tea, which is just a couple of Lipton tea bags. The extra jug of hot water is a nice thought.

Price: $$

Overall: Alfresco dining with unobstructed views of the bay.

Location: 115 Esplanade, Naracoopa, King Island TAS 7256 Ph: 0429 646 210

Reviewed in December, 2016

 

The Tea Salon

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The swanky Emporium in Melbourne’s CBD is a delightful place to shop and hang out. Good news for chicks and guys that like chick things, like it’s sister property in Sydney’s Westfield, The Tea Salon is a place for catch ups and get togethers over scones and fine teas. The Tea Salon in Melbourne however is situated in a bonafide shop space with walls, a ceiling and onsite chefs. Maybe it’s the space that has instigated such scone creativity? The selection of scones takes the plain Jane scone to new heights. Alongside the original (plain), there’s white chocolate and cranberry, salted caramel and white chocolate, date and orange (gluten-free), milk chocolate chip, rose, and an out there banana and lime. I settle for the lavender, which is served at room temperature, just like most of the ones I have ever had in the UK. The scone has a hint of lavender with sprinkles of lavender on top, just to differentiate it. It isn’t dry, but I find it literally hard to swallow. The rich triple berry jam, or as The Tea Salon likes to call it, conserve, is lovely, and goes well with the thick cream. The servings of jam and cream aren’t generous, especially if you are heavy-handed like me, but there’s enough to go around, and I’m sure the staff would oblige if asked for an extra serve. The pretty teaware goes down a treat. It’s always better sipping tea from a quality teacup.

Scones: 

Jam: 

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Tea: A vast tea menu that will impress tea aficionados. Loose-leaf served teas are served in a good-sized pot and hot water top ups are available.

Price: $$$

Overall: Feminine chic.

Location: The Emporium, 2/295 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000 Ph: 03 8609 8188
theteasalon.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

The Stables of Como Cafe

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Thanks to the National Trust, historic Como House in the suburban sprawl of South Yarra is still looking fine after 170 years. The property retains an air of mystery sitting majestically behind high fences and ancient trees. The gardens and lawns are well-kept, which no doubt is no mean feat, and visitors are welcome to spread out a picnic rug and while away an afternoon in the shadow of the former home of one of Melbourne’s aristocratic families, the Armytages. Out near the original stables, The Stables of Como looks to be a purpose-built cafe (but I could be wrong) that offers elegant interiors and a shady outdoor strip of benches and tables. There is no set ‘Devonshire Tea’ so order as many scones as you like. The batch of scones sits amongst a fine display of homemade cakes and slices, so you may be in for a hard choice. I empty the contents of the thimble-sized jar of Bonne Marilee strawberry preserve on to my fresh crisp scone. There’s plenty of rich thickly whipped cream, but I wonder if I order two scones whether I get anymore jam? Tours are available on weekends, but the garden and The Stables of Como Cafe are open daily.

Scones: 

Jam:

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Tea: A standard variety of Larsen and Thompson loose-leaf teas served in a slightly grotty tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: You can’t go wrong with Historic Homes, pretty gardens and the cafes attached.

Location: Cnr Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra VIC 3141 Ph: 03 9827 6886
thestablesofcomo.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

Cafe Birkenhead

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What makes shopping at Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre bearable is it’s harbourside location and light filled space. Even the restaurants and cafes are pleasant, boasting water views. Far away from the hectic Food Court, Cafe Birkenhead is more sedate even though the large industrial style space seems very popular. There’s enough room and water views for everyone, even during the Christmas shopping period. After an impressive lunch, I am shocked when my scones arrive – they look ridiculous. The two huge steaming lumps are more akin to bread rolls than delicate scones, and are accompanied by two tiny packets of Kraft jam, and a bowl of Dairy Whip cream that is quickly dissolving. The scones (?) are slightly sweet and are at least fresh, but taste nothing like scones. The waitress is back with more packets of low quality jam within moments of asking, and the cream? Super light and melting rapidly. But at least it’s 97 per cent ‘real’ cream. This spread is embarrassing considering that the cafe offers decent food, with generous servings and at good prices.

Scones: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A light industrial space with delicate touches including a bonza view.

Location: Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre, 70a/19 Roseby St Drummoyne NSW 2047
Ph: 02 9181 4339 cafebirkenhead.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

Zumbo Cafe

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Find Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie in South Yarra’s backstreets and you’ve found the flamboyant and utterly cool Zumbo Cafe. Dedicated to serving High Teas and cocktails with a twist, and rocking a dessert bar on Saturday nights with a DJ and fancy cocktails, Zumbo has the sweet things covered. Those with savoury tastebuds shouldn’t despair; the breakfast menu is extensive so you can bypass the pancakes and crumpets. The ‘Sconti’ is Zumbo’s take on the Devonshire Tea. It’s rather unusual and will please both palates. Start by taking one of the fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth scones and slaver it with squacorone cream cheese and top it off with capsicum jam. It’s not for someone like me who has a sweet tooth, but I’m sure the combination works well. The scones are almost cake like, but I like them. They taste even better with the mixed berry jam and rich thick cream. The ‘Sconti’ is available on Friday, Saturday and Sundays only.

Scones: 

Jam: 

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Tea: A great selection of loose-leaf teas by Harney & Sons served in a large pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: Cavernous and cool digs.

Location: 21 Daly St, South Yarra VIC 3141 Ph: 03 9826 0312 zumbocafe.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

The Library Cafe

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The Library Cafe in North Sydney is pumping. Local office workers drop in for a takeaway coffee, and loud funky tunes ensure that there’s nothing ‘library like’ about this place. A few minutes walk from Stanton Library and up the quiet end of Miller Street, the cafe gets its fair share of human traffic. The large scone is literally steaming and tastes fresh, but it’s more fluffy bread roll than scone. It smells sweet and to me, it’s a cheap version of a true scone, but not bad – I’ve had a lot worse. The jam is less than average and there’s not quite enough for the size of the scone. What I don’t understand is why a cafe would serve a jam that a customer wouldn’t even eat at home? The cream is super light and tastes real enough (which is a positive). Avoid the 3pm school finishing time, as the bus stop out the front as well as the cafe is heaving with local school kids.

Scones:

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small range of Tea Drop pyramid teabags served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Buzzy and inviting, the location near the library and park, plus a busy bus stop helps.

Location: 240 Miller St, North Sydney 2060 Ph: 02 9922 5508

Reviewed in November, 2016

The Bathers Pavilion Cafe

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If looking from Sydney Harbour towards Balmoral beach, Balmoral Bathers Pavilion is unmistakable. It reminds me of an old black and white postcard I once bought in Hawaii that depicted a very untouched Waikiki Beach where the Moana Surfrider Hotel looked as though it was the only building along the. Not quite as big or elaborate, Bathers remains part of the very fabric of the harbourside suburb. Perched on the edge of picturesque Balmoral Beach and shaded by ancient Moreton Bay fig trees, the pavilion still stands as it has for nearly 90 years. With modernised bright and airy interiors, the building is divided into a swanky restaurant on one side and a more casual and affordable cafe and kiosk on the other. Spruiking uninterrupted (apart from the constant stream of people walking and jogging past) views of middle harbour towards Sydney heads, I am glad the council splurged and built this old dame as part of the Balmoral Beautification Scheme in 1929. Grab a seat by the window if you can, as the views to Sydney heads are amazing. The chef is savvy and has made the sultana scones just the right size for afternoon tea. Although on the runny side, the house made strawberry jam is pleasantly tart rather than sweet, and the whipped cream has a hint of vanilla, and is thick enough. Scones are available between 3-5pm daily.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A vast selection of loose-leaf teas served in whatever pot is going. My green tea is served in a plunger, whilst my friend’s English Breakfast is served in a tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Superb location at one of Sydney’s popular beaches.

Location: 4 The Esplanade, Balmoral NSW 2088 Ph: 02 9969 5050 batherspavilion.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016