Riverbank of Queanbeyan

DT@The Riverside Cafe-Queenbeyan#

The heart of Riverbank of Queanbeyan is merely a shipping container with a kitchen attached, as well as a permanent open sided area connected to a sunny deck reaching towards the river’s edge. Along one side of the container a wisteria covered eating area spills out into Ray Morton Park, where seating is arranged beneath shady trees. It’s an excellent design, utilising very little space for the unimportant (like paying), but offering myriad seating choices for discerning diners. Apparently the cafe sells hundreds of scones daily. Whether that’s true or not is another story – but if true, I can understand why. Both the date and plain scones are exceptional; light and fluffy, with the date having just the right amount of fruit. I enquire about the jam and am told proudly that it’s Costco’s strawberry jam, which for a supermarket brand, is rather good. The cream is the weakest link: way too light and starts to melt in the summer heat. While you are there, wander through the Sensory Gardens, which is designed to engage all five senses: sight, touch, sound, scent and taste.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: A beautiful location by the Queanbeyan River.

Location: 4 Trinculo Pl, Queanbeyan NSW 2620Ph: 0417 465 457

Reviewed November, 2017

The Scented Rose Garden and Teahouse

DT@The Scented Rose Garden Cafe - Bywong

From my shady table on the verandah I can neither see nor smell the roses. Although in arms reach, the rose garden is well-hidden behind a high paling fence and hedges, and unless I pay the $3 to enter, the rose garden will remain a mystery. From the size of the car park it looks as though The Scented Rose Garden and Teahouse pulls in the visitors, and is the only attraction in Bywong, just off the Federal Highway. The teahouse has ample seating indoors and feels like a teahouse with cabinets of fine bone China, and jam and vintage items for sale. Outdoors, there’s the verandah and the shady courtyard, which looks as though would be a sun catcher in the cooler months. Served at room temperature and with a creamy texture, the two small scones look promising. I have an inkling though that they were baked either very early this morning or the previous day. I could be wrong, but they just don’t have that knock-me-out fresh taste. The jam tastes like generic strawberry cafe jam, but bonus points for the thickly whipped cream. Considering it’s a teahouse and the main room is decked out in fine bone China teaware, it’s a crying shame that I am lumbered with a paltry teapot that’s fit for a cafeteria and a generic cafe coffee cup. NB: The Scented Rose Garden and Teahouse has since been in contact to confirm that entrance to the rose garden is for free, especially if purchasing food/drinks, and that fine bone China teaware can be served if requested.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf 

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: Along with the basic, a few interesting loose-leaf teas from The Tea Centre, all served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A cute teahouse with the option to pay to tour the rose garden.

Location: Ph: 02 6236 9596  

Reviewed November, 2017

Tulips Cafe

DT@Tulips Cafe, Pialigo ACT

Pialligo is a green thumb’s paradise, where garden centres sell all manner of stuff to do with gardens, including garden accessories and giftware. Although, visit Bliss Garden and Giftware and you might be disappointed if after living greenery. Instead, there’s an abundance of accessories to beautify gardens such as garden pots and furniture, water features, and home and giftware. Sharing the same plot of land is Tulips Cafe, which has a seating arrangement to suit all plus a large kids playground to keep the young and restless occupied. A tad unusual but there’s a peacock wandering around the garden furniture, although I’m not sure where he belongs. I choose one of the large plain scones, leaving the date scone for another day. It’s on the dry side, but it is closing time after all. For the size of the scone there’s not enough jam, but that’s no great loss as it’s mediocre. The cream on the other hand is double thick rich and goes the distance. Impressive is the contemporary fine bone China cup and saucer by Pearl, which makes sipping quality tea a pleasure. Don’t leave your visit too late as the cafe staff have one foot out the door before 3pm.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf 

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small range of Adore loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Half garden accessory and gift shop, and half cafe.

Location: Bliss Garden and Giftware, 8 Beltana Rd, Pialligo ACT 2609 Ph: 02 6249 6118 tulipscafe.com.au

Reviewed November, 2017

Queen’s Terrace Cafe

DT@Queens Terrace Cafe - Parliament House, ACT

It’s been a while since I have driven Canberra’s neat and tidy parliamentary ring roads. Everything feels spacious and the public spaces have a ‘unlived in’ vibe. I remember when Parliament House first opened, but this is my first time inside and past the airline-style security. I sneak a peek at The Parliament House Great Hall Tapestry, which was designed by Australian artist Arthur Boyd. It’s one of the largest tapestries in the world, and I vow to sign up for a tour next time I’m in town. On level two, the Queen’s Terrace Cafe takes up quite some space at the front of The House. Due to this, the view from any of the cafe windows is to the back of Old Parliament House, up Anzac Parade, and to the War Memorial in the distance. The large modern cafe doesn’t quite spill out onto a terrace, but the extensive terrace can be accessed through a secure door that is testimony to the extremes in weather in the capital – or would that be security? The scones look more like bread rolls than scones, and unfortunately taste as dull as they look – bland and dry. Is it because it’s close to closing time that the scones are dry? The blackberry jam is better than your ordinary, and the thick cream tastes more like mock cream than whipped fresh cream, but nonetheless is good. Combine a cafe visit with a tour of Parliament House, several types run daily.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf 

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small range of T2 silk tea bags served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Handy after a tour of the House, inconvenient otherwise.

Location: Parliament House, Parliament Dr, Capital Hill ACT 2600 Ph: 02 6277 5239 aph.gov.au

Reviewed November, 2017

Cafe Lerida

DT@Lerida Winery-Lake George#

Before the Federal Highway was spruced up, the wineries near Lake George were more noticeable. These days it’s easy to hurtle past at 110kmh not paying much attention to the wineries tucked away from the road. All eyes turn to the spectacular space that Lake George may or may not occupy. In the 1980s, the lake lapped the Federal Highway, but today, cows graze where once water occupied. From Lerida Winery, Lake George and the wind farm on the lake’s south-eastern side can be seen in the distant, with rows of vines in the foreground. If it’s warm, sit outside in the courtyard to be absorbed by the lush vines. For a temperature-controlled environment, inside is either cool or cosy – depending on the season. It’s a popular lunch venue, providing music at lunchtimes on Sundays. Although not on the lunch menu, there’s a pile of scones on the counter. My two rustic style scones are on the dry side and therefore are a bit crumbly because of this. The strawberry jam is average but the cream is double thick, chilled and firm. It might be the fact that it’s at a winery cafe, but this spread is on the expensive side considering the quality.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf 

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$$

Overall: Private with stunning views over the vines and towards Lake George.

Location: 87 The Vineyards Rd, Collector NSW 2581 Ph: 02 4848 0231 leridaestate.com.au

Reviewed November, 2017

Mitchell Tearoom

DT@Adore Tea Room - Mitchell, ACT

Walk into the Adore tea shop and tea room, and it’s easy to forget where you are. The Mitchell Tearoom has relocated closer to its heart – the loose-leaf tea giants Canberra warehouse. Ignore the tea room’s neighbours; mechanics and other businesses that inhabit light industrial estates, because once through the doors, it’s a world of tea and everything associated with it. Embrace the shelves of 200 plus loose-leaf teas and blends, tea ware, tea candles and tea accessories like infusers and travel mugs. Surrounded by every type of tea and tea combination imaginable, diners can tuck into decadent desserts accompanied by said teas. The tea room is simply furnished but with feminine touches using Christiana fine bone China tea cups. It’s a bit of a wait for my scones, but that gives me some time to savour my tea and surrounds. It’s not the kind of place to pop in quickly for a treat (it’s up there in price), but rather an experience to be savoured and shared with friends. The two scones are served with rose butter and more than enough thickly whipped cream. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, although they probably should have come out of the oven a few minutes earlier. I barely taste a hint of the French Earl Grey in the jam, which I find far too runny and the portion barely sufficient for one scone. Be sure to stock up on Adore Teas before you leave. Open Tuesday to Sunday.

 Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf 

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A whopping list of loose-leaf teas to suit every mood and palate. The tea is served with aplomb and the transparent teapot is kept warm with a tea light heater.

Price: $$$

Overall: A chilled tea room and tea shop located in a light industrial area.

Location: Adore Tea, Ph: 02 6134 6781 adoretea.com.au

Reviewed November, 2017

Grandmas at the Farm

DT@Grandmas on the Farm-Collector#

If sitting on the shady patio, it won’t take long for Maggie the kelpie to find you. Don’t freak out when you feel a gentle brush of her nose on your thigh when she deposits a small rock onto the chair. She’s keen to play fetch, and goes from table to table trying her luck to see who will play. It’s a bit of entertainment and not just for our four-legged friend, and probably something you’d expect on a farm. However, this is not a ‘true’ farm, its way too slick. The place overlooks an extensive well-manicured olive grove, and the car park is geared up for coaches, with a kiddie’s playground to keep the young uns entertained. Like any good franchise, Grandmas does this well. The presentation of the scones, jam and cream are the same as that in Alexandria, although I find the buttery scones more crispy and biscuity – perhaps the chef went heavy on the butter? The rich raspberry jam and super thick (almost clotted cream) are served in identical small plastic containers and once again reflects the Grandmas brand. It’s a handy place to pull in to when travelling along the Federal Highway.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf to teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small range of T2 silk tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: The same Grandmas fare without the traffic congestion.

Location:  Ph: 02 4848 0240 grandmas.com.au

Reviewed November, 2017