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: 

Cream: 

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

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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

Mossgreen Tea Rooms

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Perched on Armadale’s High St, the elegant Mossgreen Tea Rooms, part of the Mossgreen Galleries and Auction House, is an inviting bright and spacious tea room. Popular for High Teas, it is possible to order a Devonshire Tea, although be warned, the scones are bite-size. Artworks adorn walls and starched white tablecloths give the space an air of sophistication. The display of cakes (I gather are used for the High Teas) is impressive, although each no bigger than a morsel of a finer cake or sweet. The scones are extremely small, and I am pre-warned before I put my order through. The maître-d suggests three scones or as many as I wish. Fresh out of the oven and crispy on the outside, there’s probably one or maybe two bites from each half. The jam is a rich berry and the cream double thick. These two items are so good that I fail to notice the scone at all; they are so small. The Wedgewood tea ware sits well with the decor and is a ‘must have’ if you are going to part take in a Devonshire Tea in this kind of environment.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A fine selection of T2 loose-leaf teas served in silk bags in a teapot, and with a side cannister filled with hot water.

Price: $$

Overall: Sophisticated and elegant.

Location: Ph: 03 95088850 mossgreen.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

Kelly’s Cafe

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Not one to hang out in any kind of ‘club’ restaurant or cafe, I was inspired to make a detour from the M4 and explore the mighty Penrith Panthers entertainment complex. A complex it is – there’s even a hotel next door! From the outside, the imposing building looks more office complex than entertainment domain, with larger-than-life statues of black panthers guarding the entrance. The multi-levels house restaurants, showrooms and gaming rooms, bars and clubs, and offices, which at 10am are quiet. If Kelly’s Cafe is deserted, as it is during my visit, the large open dining area feels more cafeteria than cosy cafe. The bright Vegas-style lights of the cavernous gaming room that’s adjacent to the cafe pulse and ping, and if you aren’t that way inclined can be a bit much. The scones are neither good nor bad, and don’t taste particularly fresh. The two sachets of jam are a copout (I ask for a few more), and the cream, although tastes like real cream, is lightly whipped and aerated. I appreciate the two biscuits with my cuppa, and it adds a nice touch.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A range of Pickwick tea bags and several T2 loose-leaf teas (although not in T2 cannisters) served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: The cafe you go to when you don’t want to be too far from the gaming tables.

Location: Penrith Panthers, 123 Mulgoa Rd, Penrith NSW 2750 
Ph: 02 4720 5529 penrith.panthers.com.au


Reviewed in November, 2016