Hilli Restaurant & Cafe

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The Cyclorama, part of the Hilli Restaurant complex is a wrought. Overpriced and underwhelming, the painting along the curved walls that is the Cyclorama endeavours to tell the Pitcairn’s story and how they came to be on Norfolk Island. I heard one visitor exclaim that it is the best exhibition she’s ever seen. Perhaps this is the first time she has left her house? Back in the balmy Norfolk Island air, we sit under oversized umbrellas, enjoying the shady courtyard, while others sit inside or out on the timber deck. My scone, jam and cream arrive looking like an artistic masterpiece. Who said a flower here, a sprig of mint leaves there, a strategically placed sliced banana, and a sprinkle of icing sugar doesn’t make a pretty picture? You can’t fault the presentation; it warrants some time for ogling the food rather than eating it. But eat I do. The good-sized scone is slightly crispy and freshly baked. There’s oodles of thickly whipped cream and more than enough jam that is far superior than the average supermarket quality jam. Be sure to wander through the Queen Victoria Gardens and peruse the art in the adjoining gallery. For a more informative interpretation of Norfolk Island history, head down to Kingston, buy a four- museum pass, and explore.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic variety of Dilmah teabags served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Popular cafe with attractions to pull in the thin Norfolk Island crowds.

Location: Queen Elizabeth Ave, 2899 Ph: +6723 24270 hillirestaurant.com
Reviewed in December, 2016

Rumours Bar & Cafe

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It must be the extensive lawns and subtropical flora that makes me feel like I am in a British colonial outpost somewhere in the tropics. Not that I have been to one before, but Rumours Bar & Cafe could be that place. No surprises there as Norfolk Island was settled by the British just a few months after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove. It’s also in the middle of nowhere: 1,000km due east of Byron Bay and somewhere in between New Zealand and New Caledonia. Since it’s summer, the action at Rumours is outside under the shady verandah overlooking the garden. The interior design in the old house might be described as ‘no-nonsense’, which is probably due to the attraction of being outdoors in the balmy weather admiring the well-manicured lawns and garden. Order as many as the fresh scones as you like, as there is no set Devonshire Tea. I order one scone, which is fresh but robust i.e., not light and fluffy. Choose from boysenberry, raspberry or plum jam. The boysenberry is better than average, but still tastes like a commercial grade jam. The cream tastes as though it’s been squirted from a can and is light and doesn’t add substance to the overall taste of the scone.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A huge variety but predominantly of tea in tea bags, and a few loose-leaf varieties served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Enjoy the fresh air sitting out in the garden.

Location: Taylors Rd, Burnt Pine 2899 Ph: +6723 23777
facebook.com/RumoursNorfolkIsland/timeline

Reviewed in December, 2016

Holy Cow Cafe

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Set amidst lush valleys in Tasmania’s north-east, the Holy Cow Cafe in Pyengana is tucked away up a country road not far from the Pub in the Paddock. The farm cafe uses ridgy didge dairy cows as the main attraction to draw in crowds of city slickers keen on a taste of the country. The gorgeous views are soul cleansing in itself, and the dairy cows are amusing to watch as they come in for milking and a well-earned head and back scratch. To keep with the dairy theme, a milkshake can be ordered instead of a tea or coffee as part of the Devonshire Tea. Since it’s something different, I go with a chocolate milkshake. It’s certainly a novelty, but I’m still not swayed, I’ll definitely stick to tea with my scones. The scones are fresh and crispy, but their substantial size does not match the quantity of the condiments. Although there’s enough of the Pyengana whipped cream, the fruit-rich raspberry jam is on the thin side and barely covers a scone. Am I the only one who likes a thick cover of jam on a scone? I’m impressed with the unique creamy flavour of the cream and it’s thick enough as well. Wander about the shop and take home some Pyengana cheese or other cow themed souvenirs.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

 Tea: Choose from a handful of loose-leaf teas, coffee or a milkshake as part of the Devonshire Tea ensemble.

Price: $$

Overall: A quirky diversion to a working dairy farm.

Location: St Columba Falls Road, Pyengana TAS 7216 Ph: 03 6373 6157 pyenganadairy.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

Springfield Tea Room

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Somewhere along the Tasman Highway in the countryside on the Launceston side of Springfield, is the Springfield Tea Room. As I drive up the driveway, I don’t realise it at first, initially thinking that the ladies in the tea room are in costume, but this is the real deal, a true blue working Amish farm. My partner is instantly uncomfortable and I have to coax him out of the car. The tea room is too warm today as there’s no ventilation and a skylight adds to the warmth, which I suspect are the perfect conditions for chilly Tasmanian days. Luckily there are a few tables of people, creating a more welcoming atmosphere, as I feel awkward with the subdued Amish waitress sitting in the corner with her calculator. The room is set up for sewing classes with reams of fabric and sewing bits ‘n’ bobs lining the walls. There is also homemade stone ground bread, cakes, and jams and jellies for sale. This DT is probably the bargain of the century; a measly $5 buys two scones, a grand choice of homemade jams, thickly whipped cream and a range of loose-leaf teas that tops most cafes I’ve been to. The scones are served at room temperature and although not light and fluffy, tastes fresh enough. It’s a hard choice; the jams and jellies are all too good. I decide to try something different and go for the crab apple jelly, which is light and subtle. Open Monday to Saturday.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: An extensive range of interesting loose-leaf teas served in a teapot.

Price: $

Overall: An interesting experience.

Location: 1139 Ten Mile Track, Springfield TAS 7304 

Reviewed in December, 2016

Just Desserts Cafe

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It feels like everyone travelling up through Swansea to Freycinet National Park or back the other way, visits Kate’s Berry Farm. After we arrive, a convoy of oversized fancy campervans tries to manoeuver into limited parking spots, and more visitors than available tables descend on the free jam tasting samples and Kate’s specialties. Although the berry farm isn’t on the highway, the visitors keep arriving. Located up a quiet country lane, high enough to allow sweeping views over rows of ripening berries, and down towards Great Oyster Bay and the magnificent Freycinet Peninsula beyond. The aptly named Just Desserts Cafe is just that, predominantly for those with a sweet tooth, although there are a few savoury items such as pot pies available. The scones are near perfect. They have a crispy outer shell and are soft and buttery within, tasting as though this batch is just out of the oven. My only gripe is they taste a tad salty – but that’s just me. I’m at a loss as to which jam to choose, as every berry is represented, and then some. I go with the blackcurrant, which is everything you could hope for in a jam; rich, tart, thick and fruity, and served with ample cream that’s whipped thick. Quality doesn’t come cheap; this spread is on the expensive side at $17.50 including the pot of tea.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A good selection of loose-leaf tea served in a small teapot.

Price: $$$

Overall: Touristy, busy and expensive – but expect good quality and a killer view.

Location: 12 Addison St, Swansea TAS 7190 Ph: 03 6257 8428 katesberryfarm.com

Reviewed in December, 2016

The Lifebouy Cafe & Quail Street Emporium

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Sleepy St Helens on the north-east coast of Tassie is as pretty as a picture. An expansive bay that takes in a few smaller hamlets, is serviced by a town that closed up by 6pm, and where eating the seafood is a must. The place is more happening during the day, and The Lifebouy Cafe & Quail Street Emporium feels like central city. It’s hard to know where the cafe starts and finishes; the tables are so well disguised poised amongst the collectables, antiques, and nautical stuff for salty sea dogs. On a rainy day it’s the place to be as travellers empty out of campervans and set up around tables to play cards. I go for a single scone, and have a choice of plain or date, and there is cheese and chives for savoury tastes. I try the plain, which is light and fluffy, and even though it’s microwaved until steaming, it’s still better than average. The condiments don’t fare too well, as the raspberry jam is very average and the superlight cream dissolves before it gets anywhere near the scone. Nonetheless, the place is an interesting diversion, especially if you are into selective preloved stuff. Closed Sundays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: Three choices of loose-leaf tea, and herbal tea bags served in a small tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Quirky eatery where you can admire collectables while you eat.

Location: 29 Quail St, St Helens TAS 7216 Ph: 0439 761 371

Reviewed in December, 2016

 

 

The Pondering Frog

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It’s still early when we arrive at The Pondering Frog so the visitors heading to Freycinat National Park haven’t yet arrived for their pancakes, ice cream and scones. Not really anywhere near Bicheno town, it’s about five to minutes out of town if heading south, and  just south of the turn off to the world-famous Wineglass Bay. With a carpark big enough to park a few semi trailers, The Pondering Frog cafe is all about being outdoors. The outdoor seating has semi permanent roll down (or up) walls, and heaters and blankets for cool weather. Inside the building where food orders are taken, are shelves adorned with frog figurines striking all sorts of poses, while other shelves are stocked with jars of jams. The scone is bigger than usual and makes up for a two-scone Devonshire Tea. It’s melt-in-your-mouth fluffy and is paired well with the rich and tart raspberry jam. For those not a fan of raspberry jam there’s strawberry jam on offer as well. The cream is fresh but very light. I love the little chocolate frog, such a lovely addition and only reinforces the fact that it’s all about the frog.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A large range of Dilmah tea (tea bags), served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A welcoming roadside cafe selling lots of jams and frog figurines.

Location: 16494 Tasman Hwy, Bicheno TAS 7215  Ph: 0412 631 299 ponderingfrog.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

The Cherry Shed Cafe

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If arriving or departing by ferry, The Cherry Shed is a mere 10-minute drive from Devonport along the Bass Highway. The huge shed that The Cherry Shed Cafe and Gift Shop is located in looks a tad out of place surrounded by suburbia and busy intersections. Perhaps it was, once-upon-a-time, embedded in a field of green? The giant cherry out the front (think the Big Banana, Prawn and Pineapple on the mainland) acts as a lure for visitors making the rounds of Tasmania’s berry and cherry farms, so I’m not sure if the shed was in fact a work beast. As per the pic above I order the half serve; a full serve of two scones is also available. The scone is a good size, not ridiculously huge nor is a one-bite-wonder, and is crispy skinned and lightly sprinkled with icing sugar. A choice of either cherry or raspberry jam is teamed superbly with lots of chilled and thick slightly sweet cream. Naturally I go with the cherry jam, which is made from local cherries and supposedly made on the premises. It’s tart and rich with fruit, and does The Cherry Shed proud. Wander through the gift shop and stock up on ‘cherry’ related products, and send the kids to play in the giant cherry. Fresh cherries are available from mid-December to February.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: Basic choices in a range of tea bags, and some specialty loose-leaf varieties served in a small teapot with a bicky on the side. I have the green cherry tea, but it is a bit weak.

Price: $$

Overall: A touristy diversion selling cherry infused goodies.

Location: 243 Gilbert St, Latrobe TAS 7307 Ph: 03 6426 2411 thecherryshed.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

Distillery Cafe

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I’m not a whiskey drinker, but my partner doesn’t mind a drop and has become a kind of ‘collector’ of fine single malt whiskeys. Tasmania has also become internationally renowned for quality whiskeys, with some even topping the best 100 list. Located on the southern edges of Burnie, Hellyers Road Distillery is Tasmania’s most northern and produces about a dozen varieties plus a cream liqueur and a crisp vodka. The location is magic; an outlook over a lush green rolling landscape a distillery that doesn’t feel commercial. All activities radiate from the Visitor’s Centre. The Whiskey Walk Distillery Tour kicks off here, there’s the gift shop, and of course the whiskey tasting bar, as well as the Distillery Cafe. It’s still early and the lunchtime diners are yet to descend on the Distillery Cafe, but it’s perfect timing as the scones are straight out of the oven. Crispy on the outside with firm robust centres, it’s hard to fault these warm scones. The scones are paired well with rich and fruity raspberry jam and lots of thick whipped cream. My only grizzle is there isn’t enough jam. What am I going to do with all that cream?

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic variety of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Hypnotic sweeping views from every angle.

Location: 153 Old Surrey Rd, Havenview TAS 7320 Ph: 03 6433 0439
hellyersroaddistillery.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016

Two Oaks Cafe

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The Two Oaks Tea Room sign grabs me as I hurtle along the Bass Highway, which is named after the waterway it hugs. However, when I arrive, I find it’s no tea room, but a cafe with a large extension that caters for events such as weddings and the like. The lack of tea room cosiness aside, the cafe does have a lovely garden and the Somerset Caravan Park that it fronts doesn’t interfere with the ambience. Bass Strait and the Australian mainland are on the other side of the highway, so not too far for a stroll to a beach. Choose from plain or date scones, which are served with rich raspberry jam and thick whipped cream that tastes more mock than fresh cream. I go with the plain scones. They are large and have certainly reached their microwavable limit erring on the chewy side. No doubt more raspberry jam would help mask this. Open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A good range of T2 teas served in a teapot with an extra filled with hot water.

Price: $$

Overall: A convenient stop on the Bass Highway.

Location: Somerset Beachside Caravan Park, 15235 Bass Hwy, Somerset TAS 7322 
Ph: 03 6435 1431 somersetbeachside.com.au/p/twooakscafe

Reviewed in December, 2016