Indulge Tea Garden

DT@Indulge Tea Gardens-Gold Creek ACT#

This quintessential tea house is the ideal location for a High Tea extravaganza. It has all the bells and whistles: a massive tea selection to keep whistles wet for lots of nattering, an elegant dining area with chairs that have the shape of a teapot cut out of the back rest, and it’s a specific function venue for the huge groups. The day I visit, O’Hanlon Place looks windswept and bleak, but perhaps in finer Canberra weather it’s a pretty place for a special event. The venue is certainly large enough for it, but can be kept small and cosy for quieter days. The oven-fresh scones are the best bit of this spread, but that’s if you don’t include the phenomenal choice of teas. The scones do have a sweet aftertaste like they are made from a pre-prepared scone mix, or perhaps there’s too much vanilla in them to my taste? The sweetness is overkill as the cheap quality jam and the synthetic cream from an aerosol can are super sweet. The spread is well-presented, the goods delivered on a serving board with a dollop of berry compote, a strawberry sliver and a sprig of mint. A great presentation and decent scones still can’t rescue what essentially is an expensive and slightly disappointing Devonshire Tea. For $15 or so dollars, I do expect top-notch jam and cream.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: The tea selection is out of this world with almost 100 varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a clear teapot kept warm by a tea light.

Price: $$$

Overall: An elegant tea house for those who take tea seriously.

Location: Gold Creek Village, Shop 6/18 O’Hanlon Pl, Nicholls ACT 2913 Ph: 02 5105 9741
indulgetea.com.au

Reviewed May 2018

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Daughters at Hall

DT@Daughter of Hall-Hall ACT
Teetering on the ACT/NSW border, the historic village of Hall remains hidden away from the city lights. Proclaimed a village in 1882, settlers had moved in long before then,  stablishing a store, post office, cottages and homesteads. Considering its close proximity to Canberra, the place has managed to maintain a village atmosphere, attracting visitors to its monthly Hall Markets, the various cafes, and even beer, wine and cider tastings at Hops and Vine. Daughters at Hall, the general-store-turned-café, is run by a couple of chicks whose family first settled in the area in the early 1800s. The building has passed its centenary quite a few years ago, but still retains a facade from yesteryear. Huge picture windows light up the large space while tables are set up outside in fine weather. A serving of scones includes just one small scone that’s already dressed with a dollop of cafe-standard strawberry jam topped with thickly whipped cream. The scone isn’t particularly impressive; the tough base and its small size doesn’t lend itself to providing a soft and fluffy scone. Points go to the lovely presentation though.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: A cute historic village not far from Canberra’s action.

Location: 5 Victoria St, Hall ACT 2618 Ph: 02 6230 2457 halldaughters.com.au

Reviewed May 2018

Armadillos Cafe

DT@Armadillos cafe-Gold Creek ACT

Dig around in one of the small clusters of businesses at Gold Creek Village and you’ll stumble upon Armadillos Cafe. Read any literature and it will tell you Gold Creek Village is for Canberrans and visitors alike. I visit with my sister who has lived in Canberra for 35 years, and I think she may have visited once – maybe. It’s a strange place. I get the feeling that once upon a time it had high hopes, but now feels forgotten. The day I visit Armadillos Cafe offers a choice of plain, ginger, or date scones. I try a plain and a ginger scone for something different, and to be honest, can’t tell the difference. Either the ginger is very subtle, or the heat from the microwave has neutralised any flavour, but they are definitely made on the premises as opposed to bought-in. The rich and fruity raspberry jam pairs well with the double thick cream. Once done sconing it up, there are enough shops to meander through, more cafes to try, as well as the National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra Walk In Aviary, and Canberra Reptile Zoo.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: An unusual array of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Friendly and welcoming.

Location: Gold Creek, 7 O’Hanlon Pl, Nicholls ACT 2913 Ph: 0422 076 313

Reviewed May 2018

Poppy’s Cafe

DT@Poppys cafe-War Memorial ACT

Visit the Australian War Memorial late in the day and be sure to stay for the Last Post Ceremony. It kicks off when the Memorial closes at 5pm and begins with the Australian national anthem followed by the piper’s lament. Every day a different name is chosen from the Roll of Honour and their story is shared. The ceremony takes place around the Pool of Reflection, and after a few speeches, wreath laying and the sounding of the Last Post, you’d be one tough cookie not to feel moved. Literally a minute’s walk from the Memorial, the proximity of Poppy’s Cafe is a treat. Not just any old cafe, it’s part museum and part memorial, and feels more or less an extension of the Memorial. When ordering scones, what you’ll get is one well-sized scone that doesn’t look particularly appetising. However, when dissected and dressed, it’s fluffy centre hits the spot. The strawberry jam is rather ordinary but the slightly sweetened chilled whipped cream makes up for it.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A very small range of Tea Drop silk teabags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Light and bright; it feels like a quirky gallery belonging to the War Memorial.

Location: Australian War Memorial, 5 Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT 2612
Ph: 02 6262 7380 awm.gov.au

Reviewed May, 2018

Busbys Cafe and Restaurant

DT@Busbys Cafe and Restaurant - Wisemans Ferry#

The deck of Busbys Cafe and Restaurant looks towards dramatic cliffs that tower over the Hawkesbury River and the quaint village of Wisemans Ferry. It’s quite a sight and creates an ethereal vibe, which I guess makes this north-western edge of Sydney so special. Access to Busbys is through a carpark off the main street behind the cluster of shops containing the General Store. Warm and cosy inside, diners have a choice of either timbered interiors or out on the covered verandah. Three oven fresh scones are served with a dish of whipped butter, double thick cream and chunky housemade strawberry jam. Crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside, for one person the three scones is quite a meal. I ditch the butter (not before almost mistaking it for cream), and although the super-duper chunky strawberry jam is a treat, there needs to be a bit more, as strawberry chunks don’t spread well.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A very small range of Tea Drop silk teabags served in a small pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: Great views but pricey.

Location: 12/5557 Old Northern Rd, Wisemans Ferry NSW 2775 Ph: 02 4566 4787 busbyscaferestaurant.com.au

Reviewed April, 2018

Meridian Cafe

DT@Meridian Cafe - Marulan#

Veer off the Hume Motorway and spend some time in historic Marulan. Since my first visit several years ago, the town has expanded its visitor options beyond the service centre hulks on the roadside. There’s an antique shop, a gentrified general store that does a bit of everything, a bakehouse, a pharmacy, and a handful of other businesses, and enough historic buildings to keep the history buffs occupied while stretching legs. What’s interesting is what the Meridian Cafe is up to. Most walls in the main dining area are covered with framed pictures of pooches with the odd cat, guinea pig and chook. Donate $20, along with a picture of your pet, and the cafe will frame and hang it, with all proceeds going to the Hearts for Makamba charity. What a great idea! Order a scone or two – they are light and fluffy – while perusing the pictures. The jam is average and the cream just a tad too light, but the whole ensemble comes together well.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A good selection of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Heaven for pet lovers.

Location: 85 George St, Marulan NSW 2579 Ph: 02 4841 1126 meridiancafe.com.au

Reviewed May, 2018