The Village Kitchen

DT@The Village Kitchen-Kurrajong#

Feel the tranquility increase alongside the altitude as you head up the Bells Line of Road from Richmond. Entering Kurrajong village, which is just off the main road, is like taking a huge gulp of mountain air (believe me, you’ll need it after the congestion at North Richmond) – it’s just so lovingly quiet! The Village Kitchen sits alongside other cafes for the best commercial real estate in town. For a few lucky diners, the small back deck offers views towards Sydney, while for everyone else there’s the spacious interior or the sunny or shady (depending on the time of year) front courtyard. There is only one plain scone left, so I take a date and orange scone as my second scone. Naturally the scones are baked on the premises, but I find the date and orange a tad dry. But as far as date scones go, this is my preferred recipe as the dates aren’t overpowering or too chunky and blend in well with the orange zest. The plain scone is almost perfect (it scores an extra half a teapot) as its fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth, the ideal scone to snack on. The jam is rich and fruity and tastes homemade or is at least that quality, and pairs well with the double thick cream. Check out the home and giftware store attached to the restaurant.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3 

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A better than average choice of loose-leaf teas, served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A sophisticated country style eatery.

Location: 83 Old Bells Line of Rd, Kurrajong NSW 2758 Ph: 02 4573 0988 facebook.com

Reviewed October, 2017

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Ugly Mug Coffee House

DT@Ugly Mug Coffee House-Richmond

It’s impossible to feel hemmed in at the Ugly Mug Coffee House. With three spacious dining areas plus tables outdoors but undercover, it’s hard to imagine there would ever be a wait for a table. The vibe is funky casual, and there’s a steady flow of diners – does anyone work on a Friday in Richmond? Scones are on the menu, so you are guaranteed a daily dose. They are huge, and way too large for one serving, especially if you are alone. They present well, but to me, are chewy and bland. These are my first scones of the day and I am hungry, but they just don’t hit the spot. The strawberry jam is more jelly like than chunky fruit, and brings back fond memories XL jam from a can that I used to eat in the 70s. The double thick cream is thick and rich – a nice finish.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small range of T2 loose-leaf teas with a few interesting extras served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A funky and popular hangout.

Location: 1/223 Windsor St, Richmond NSW 2753 Ph: 02 4578 9795 uglymug.com.au

Reviewed October, 2017

Cafe 89

DT@Cafe 89-Mudgee#

Market Street in Mudgee feels like ‘Cafe Row’, with cafes sitting side-by-side vying for clientele. Cafe 89 sits amongst this bunch and has a large outdoor seating area that’s shaded with multiple umbrellas. It’s ideal for sunny winter days but during the summer heat, a table in the cool indoors might be preferable. Scones are served as a couple, but because I have just finished lunch, I am offered a ‘half serve’ – one scone. The scone looks rustic – homemade, but isn’t particularly tasty. As many types of compotes tend to be light on the fruit and heavy on the syrup, this one is the opposite – superb. However, I hope there is more of the tart, fruit-rich berry compote if there are two scones; there’s just enough for one. The same goes for the cream, which is fairly light. Even though I tend to be heavy-handed with the jam and cream, there should always be enough of both to generously cover both sides of the scone.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A range of Tea Tonic loose-leaf teas served in a small pot with an unhinged lid.

Price: $$

Overall: A fine choice along Mudgee’s cafe row.

Location: 89 Market St, Mudgee NSW 2850 Ph: 02 6372 4889

Reviewed September, 2017

The White Rabbit Gallery

DT@The White Rabbit Gallery-Chippendale

Hidden within the narrow streets of Chippendale, The White Rabbit Gallery and it’s Tea House is a welcome retreat from city life and traffic heavy thoroughfares that surround the compact inner city suburb. The gallery’s collection is one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art, and to top it off, it’s privately owned!  Before settling in for tea, peruse the collection that is exhibited over three floors, otherwise there’s a small gift shop selling an array of typical art gallery gifts. The simple design of the Tea House creates tranquility but the crème de la crème of the space are the mishmash of empty birdcages suspended from the ceiling. Scones are sold singularly rather than as pairs, and only one batch are baked per day. I suggest calling ahead if going specifically for scones, as the first time I turned up they hadn’t baked them due to an event the evening before. On the day I visit, my scone is slightly burnt on the bottom, but otherwise it has a lovely robust texture and tell-tale signs of crispness when straight from the oven. The jam is especially sweet, even for jam, and is neither good nor bad. The lightly whipped cream is more than likely from a cream canister. Closed Monday and Tuesday, and for two-week blocks throughout the year for exhibition changes.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: An extensive range of Chinese and Taiwanese loose-leaf teas served in a teapot and a thimble-sized cup. Choose from white, oolong, and green teas, as well as flower teas such as chrysanthemum. Have as many hot water refills as you and your tea will take.

Price: $$

Overall: A slice of culture and tranquility in the hectic inner city.

Location: 30 Balfour St, Chippendale NSW 2008 Ph: 02 8399 2867 

Reviewed September, 2017

Onelia’s Place

DT@O'Nelia's Place-Lithgow#

Onelia’s Place is pretty much across from the Wollemi Bakery, the only other cafe that I know that does scones in Lithgow. It’s a shame scones aren’t more widespread as Lithgow is situated at a busy crossroads where the Bells Line of Road and the Great Western Highway meet. This is important, because depending on where you live in Sydney, Lithgow is where you will arrive on your way further west, and who couldn’t do with a scone stop? At Onelia’s Place there’s a choice of date or plain scones, but I stick with the plain, which are fairly light and fluffy. Not the best scones I’ve eaten but far better than expected. The jam is very average; cheap and sickly sweet, and the cream is super light, from a cream canister. Thumbs up to the cute teddy biscuit presented on the teaspoon and the jam and cream served in the small glasses. The business is up for sale, so who knows what will happen when sold.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic range of Twining teabags served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A spacious café but feels a bit sterile.

Location: 176 Main St, Lithgow NSW 2790 Ph: 02 6352 4395

Reviewed in September, 2017

Gertrude & Petunias

DT@Gertrude &Petunia's - Kensington

I catch a glimpse of Gertrude & Petunias as I drive by, and know instantly that this is the kind of place that will serve scones. Luckily for me I am on the mark, and the Devonshire Tea is set up and decorating the cake cabinet fittingly. The cafe exudes vintage Parisian tones, and feels like an antique shop once inhabited the space. Bold wallpaper, an assortment of mirrors, chandeliers and Parisian-style furnishings combine to create a chic space. My only pet peeve is that the tables look stark with not even a salt and peppershaker in sight, like the staff are about to lock the door and go home. A flower vase would do wonders to complete the furnishings and make the already-cosy cafe, even more welcoming. My two buttery scones are tender and melt-in-the-mouth delicious, and the right size for a snack. Is it, or isn’t it clotted cream? It’s so close, and come to think of it, this soft buttery cream might perhaps be a skewed Australian version? Whatever it is, along with the jam, there’s the right amount to slather two scones generously. As always, it’s a treat to sip tea from a proper China cup, and this has a matching plate and vintage-style cutlery. Who said the finer details don’t matter?

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small but interesting range of Ovvio Organic loose-leaf teas served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A charming corner cafe with vintage overtones.

Location: 61 Todman Ave, Kensington NSW 2033 Ph: 02 9663 0951

Reviewed in September, 2017

The Beach Hut Cafe

DT@The Beach Hut Cafe-Hastings#2

It’s an odd thing to name a cafe in the middle of town and nowhere near a beach, The Beach Hut Cafe. A few minutes drive from Western Port Marina where walking tracks wind along the foreshore, the cafe is more shoppers’ lunch spot than a place to fuel up during a day of sun and surf. A compact town, Hastings has none of the touristy vibe like other parts of the Peninsula, with most of the coastline here comprising of mudflats. There’s also nothing beachy about the cafe, although its ample seating, including alfresco dining on the footpath, is light, bright and inviting. My very fresh and creamy scone is delightful. It’s a shame that the jam is nothing more than average and the super aerated cream, although fresh, is siphoned from a cream canister.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small variety of T2 pyramid tea bags served in small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A simple down-to-earth cafe in the middle of town.

Location: 55 High St, Hastings VIC 3915Ph: 03 5979 1071

Reviewed in September, 2017