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

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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

The Painted Door Cafe

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There are literally hordes of people in Derby this Saturday, and most of them are riding mountain bikes. For Derby this is a godsend, as the former tin mining town once on the brink of extinction, is now thriving due to the new mountain bike park on the edge of town. The town is making the most of this renaissance with local businesses getting in on the act. The local council has even decorated Main Street with bicycle art sculptures (if that’s what it’s called)! At the Painted Door Art Cafe, the art gallery section sells bracelets made from old bicycle chains and pendant necklaces using the links. Whether it’s clever recycling or merely creative, mountain bike diehards may be coerced into buying. The adjoining cafe is large, bright and airy, and has a lovely grassy garden, which is today littered with bikes and weary riders basking in the sunshine. The Devonshire Tea is served with two light and fluffy scones, and is prettily presented with a dash of syrup and a sprinkle of icing sugar. The average raspberry jam and super light cream that tastes as it’s come from a can (dairy whip?), are a bit of a let down considering they’ve made an effort with the scones. Closed on Tuesdays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A selection of Twinings tea bags served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Forget the tin mining history; it’s all about the mountain bike park.

Location: 62 Main St, Derby TAS 7264 Ph: 03 6354 2407

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