Sea Vista

DT@Seavista Cafe-Gerringong

Gerrigong has it going on in terms of beaches. With Werri Beach only minutes from town and Seven Mile Beach not more than a 10-minute drive south, it’s the quintessential beachside holiday hotspot. Over the past few years, the village has definitely changed. Funky homeware stores have moved in and the number of cafes has doubled. Not as quickly as nearby Berry, but it’s happening. The only scones I find in town come with sweeping views towards Werri Beach. The aptly named Sea Vista cafe is the only cafe in Gerrigong that’s lucky enough to have ocean views – bonus! Whether sitting inside, which is spacious, bright and with a beachy vibe, or sunning yourself out on the deck, this cafe is the pick of the bunch if views are high on the cafe checklist. The scones are exceptional; soft, creamy and super fluffy. Actually the scones are so good that the mediocre jam and super light cream are inconsequential to the final overall product. Check opening times, especially in winter.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

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

Price: $$

Overall: Sensational beach views, especially from the deck.

Location: 2/1 Noble St, Gerringong NSW 2534 Ph: 02 4234 0551

Reviewed in August, 2017

Hill End Estate

DT@Hill End Estate-Hill End#

It’s the second weekend of cafe trade and an unseasonably mild winters’ day when I drop in to Hill End Estate. Set on about four acres of land in the village, berry vines, fruit trees, geese and a couple of alpacas make this a pleasant place to stretch legs, top up on homemade pies and cakes (Steve’s a baker by trade), and absorb some Hill End hospitality.  In spring myriad fruit trees will be heavy with blossoms, and in turn, produce fruit that could possibly end up in some form on your plate. The cafe has a cosy wood fire to keep the cold Hill End winters at bay, and a sunny deck, that come summer, will be shaded courtesy of the grape vines growing on an overhead trellis. Expect to wait at least 15 minutes for scones – they are made to order, so are steaming fresh from the oven. Who’s complaining? Although the homemade strawberry jam is on the runny side, it’s tart and tasty, just like a real jam should be. The whipped cream is chilled, firm, and slightly sweet – the kind that bakers use with cakes. The DT is excellent value for money, and with only a handful of eating choices in Hill End, it’s also the only place that serves scones. Open on weekends and public holidays only.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A selection of Dilmah and Twining tea bag teas, and one loose-leaf option. All served in a vintage teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A top quality spread at a bargain price make this a must do on a visit to Hill End.

Location: 3664 Hill End Rd, Hill End NSW 2850 Ph: 0428 980 803
hillendestate.com.au

Reviewed in August, 2017

Pacinos Cafe

DT@Pacinos Cafe-Shellharbour Village

It doesn’t take long to shake off the suburban sprawl that you have to pass through to get to sleepy Shellharbour Village. Explore the coastline and take a five-minute drive from town to Bass Point Reserve to wander, snorkel or dive. The suburban sprawl is eating its way to the coastline too, but hopefully the Reserve will act as a reminder as to how the area once was. Back in the village pull up a pew and enjoy the outdoors at Pacino Cafe. The predominantly alfresco dining style cafe has a picture of Al Pacino hanging on the wall, but I’m not sure of the connection past sharing the same name. The scones are the highlight here; light and fluffy with a creamy texture, and warmed to serve. Order as many as you like as scones are sold singularly and accompanied with good enough strawberry jam and super light fresh cream.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A standard variety of tea bags on offer, served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A great summer option as most of the seating is outdoors

Location: 7/20-26 Addison St, Shellharbour NSW 2529 Ph: 02 4296 1133
pacinoscafe.com.au

Reviewed in August, 2017

The Heritage Terrace Cafe

DT@The Heritage Terrace Cafe-Penrith

On the edge of the Westfield Penrith food court and open to the outside, The Heritage Terrace cafe has a foot in both camps. There’s an entrance from the shopping centre, but the floor to ceiling glass walls and the open plan provides a view to the outside world. It has a typical Westfield cafe feel to it, but just goes under a different name. Order a serving to share if you aren’t famished. The two large dinner roll type scones aren’t bad, but are more bread than scone-like. The average strawberry jam and way-too-light-for-my-liking cream are served in eggcups – an interesting concept.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

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

Price: $$

Overall: A handy location if shopping up a storm at Westfield Penrith.

Location: Westfield Penrith, 585 High St, Penrith NSW 2750
Ph: 02 4721 8142 theheritageterrace.com.au

Reviewed in July, 2017

Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler Devonshire Tea Cruise

DT@Nepean Belle DT Cruise - Penrith

Although we still have a couple of minutes to spare, Captain Chris is keen to set the Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler on course and get The Devonshire Tea Cruise in motion. Launched in 1982, the iconic paddlewheeler has been plying the Nepean River, showing off the steep cliffs of the Nepean Gorge and the wilderness of the Lower Blue Mountains National Park for the past 35 years. Decked out in polished cedar and teak, the interior feels undeniably masculine, while the exterior and churning paddlewheels feels as though I should be in America’s deep south. Offering The Devonshire Tea, lunch, and dinner cruises; the friendly and capable crew make us feel at home. Pretty soon after we cast off and head upriver, we are served our scone. Already dressed with chilled firm Chantilly cream and a better-than-most jam, the scone is freshly baked and served in true British fashion – at room temperature. It’s delicious, and if you skipped breakfast, you’d probably want another. The mint chocolates are a nice touch too. There are no set dates for this particular cruise, so check the website for sailings.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: Pre-brewed loose-leaf tea poured at the bar and served in a cup. Or alternatively, there’s a choice of Twining tea bags.

Price: $$$$

Overall: It’s not all about the scones – it’s a beautiful river, and a lovely way to enjoy it.

Location: Jetty at Tench Reserve, Tench Ave, Jamisontown NSW 2750
Ph: 02 4733 1274 nepeanbelle.com.au

Reviewed in July, 2017

My Little Cupcake Tea Room

DT@My Little Cupcake Tearoom

You might say that a Tea Room with a name pertaining to cupcakes can be a little deceiving if you are on the lookout for scones. Don’t let the name dissuade you from stopping by, as there is lots of goodies on offer as well as said cupcakes. Decked out in pastel hues, the tea room is very pretty and unmistakably feminine – and really, it’s how we scone eaters like it. From the collection of souvenir spoons used throughout the spread, the tea cosies and bone China teaware to the floral napkins, it’s the small touches that impress me. Everything looks so lovely that I don’t want to disturb the presentation perfection. The creamy textured scones are lightly dusted with icing sugar and are the ideal size for a light morning or afternoon tea. With thickly whipped cream paired with a well-baked scone, it’s easy to ignore the stock standard quality jam. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small selection of teabags served in tea cosy covered teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pretty female bolthole.

Location: 62 Ben Boyd Rd, Neutral Bay NSW 2089 Ph: 02 9909 3908 

Reviewed in July, 2017

Peppercorn Cafe

DT@Peppercorn Cafe-Mulgoa#

The Peppercorn Cafe is strategically positioned on Mulgoa road, making it super easy to pull over, park up and dine. Located just south of the village shopping centre, the cute timber house has a lovely wrap around verandah, which is perfect for balmy days. If you like to hear what your dining companion has to say, opt for the verandah; the timber floors indoors aren’t great for acoustics. It’s a shame as I am fond of properties like this that have soul and lived a life. After a quick peruse of the art adorning the walls, we head outside. The scones are on the chewy side, which I can only put down to being in the microwave for longer than necessary. The strawberry jam is good enough, but the cream, although fresh, is on the light side.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: Not the best spread – but if you are passing by.

Location: 1319 Mulgoa Rd, Mulgoa NSW 2745 Ph: 02 4773 9224

Reviewed in July, 2017

Essence Cafe

DT@Essence Cafe

Stockland Balgowlah feels posh. The shops seem to have been carefully chosen with discerning shoppers in mind, and unlike most shopping malls, it feels – relaxed. Essence Cafe, however, is on a busy thoroughfare. It’s the quickest way to Coles from the car park entrance, so while dining in the open-plan cafe you can’t miss the filled grocery trolleys pass by. There are plain and fruit scones and I try one of each. The menu says that they are ‘toasty’. Definitely not toasted (thank goodness), but warm and fairly crusty on the outside. The fruit scone is more flavoursome than the plain, and I would have passed on the plain if I had known. The plain scone is exactly that – plain, but it tastes bland. The menu says that the jam is ‘real’ fruit jam. Yes, that’s true, but essentially it is still a cheap commercial variety rather than a fruity homemade one, and there isn’t enough to go around. The super light cream is from a cream canister and doesn’t help matters. No doubt with better quality jam and cream, this could have been a different experience.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small selection of loose-leaf organic teas served in a mid-size teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant place for a quick break.

Location: Shop 2, Stockland Balgowlah, 197-215 Condamine St, Balgowlah NSW 2093
Ph: 0449 979 849 

Reviewed in July, 2017

Blue Gum Cafe

IMG_2897

Tradies Helensburgh is one of a cluster of clubs found in the southern reaches of Sydney. Quite small if compared to the other mega clubs, the poker machines are tucked away and the drinking and eating areas are light and bright and overlook Helensburgh’s sports fields. Blue Gum Cafe inhabits a quiet corner and is semi-partitioned off from the rest of the place. It looks as though it has been refurbished, as everything is fresh and new. Initially I have the place to myself, and can’t decide whether to stay indoors or sit out on the deck, or even on the lawn. At first sight the large scone looks more bread roll-like, but is actually light and fluffy. It’s served with average strawberry jam and super light cream, which is so light that it dissolves before my eyes. The presentation is impressive, with the cast iron teapot and the breadboard server. As with most clubs, non-members pay a dollar or so extra for items.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3

Tea: A variety of teabags served in a Tetsubin, a Japanese cast iron kettle.

Price: $$

Overall: Light and bright, and not bad for a club cafe.

Location: 24 Boomerang St, Helensburgh NSW 2508 Ph: 02 4294 1122 

Reviewed in July, 2017

Lime Leaf Cafe

DT@Lime Leaf Cafe-Helensburgh

Sunrise Nursery on the outskirts of Helensburgh, rocks a very popular cafe. It’s pumping when I visit – although it is school holidays and around the corner from Symbio Wildlife Park. Surrounded by a vast range of potted plants that live in hope to be carted off to a new home, the Lime Leaf Cafe has a blackboard twice my height and a large counter laden with homemade treats. The cafe’s seating is spread out, literally; some tables are near the entrance of the nursery, some near the rows of plants, whilst the bulk of them are on a semi indoor deck. The scones have potential, but today mine are a bit tough on the bottom. The jam is average in quality but good enough, although there could be more of it. Bravo for the chilled thickly whipped cream; it really helps raise the standards in the quality stakes. The thick-rimmed coffee cup is annoying, especially since I am not drinking coffee.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: A semi-outdoor cafe in an offbeat nursery.

Location: Sunrise Nursery, 193 Princes Hwy, Helensburgh NSW 2508
Ph: 0432 733 771 sunrisenursery.com.au

Reviewed in July, 2017