Bent on Food

DT@Bent on Food-Wingham#

Just 12 kilometres from Taree, historic Wingham is well worth the diversion. Settled in the 1840s after cedar forestry began in the Manning Valley, Wingham retains much of its heritage and character. Bent on Food, although not reliving 19th century Wingham, is a quirky and very popular hang out. The brightly painted furnishings give the cafe a cheery demeanour that also radiates from the amicable staff. A small seating section on the way to the garden courtyard emulates vintage vibe, while the main section doubles as a mini shop selling spices, jams and the like. There are a few tables out the front on the footpath, which are hard to bypass, or perch on a stool at the window to watch the Wingham world go by. Just by looking at the batch of scones on the counter, I know they are going to be good. I can’t but help give the creamy, soft and fluffy scones five teapots. The strawberry jam has a hint of vanilla and is one of the jams sold in the cafe. The cream from a cream canister is a tad too light for me, but the scones are so good, the light cream can be forgiven.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A basic range of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A cheery cafe cafe all-round, from the staff to the brightly painted furniture.

Location: 95 Isabella St, Wingham NSW 2429 Ph: 02 6557 0727 bentonfood.com.au

Reviewed April 2019

The Pines Orchard

DT@The Pines Orchard-Bilpin#2

There’s no doubt about it; Bilpin is a pretty place. It’s all green rolling hills and fruit orchards. If driving from Sydney, The Pines Orchard is a peaceful place to take a break. Most people stop for the apple pies, or to pick up some freshly picked fruit, juice, or jams. The scones sit beside the apple pies and are chewy and don’t taste particularly fresh. The jam is acceptable, but it’s a shame that they don’t use any of the jams that are sold in the shop as opposed to the low quality cafe variety. The super light cream that’s dispensed from a cream canister is so light it melts easily in the autumn sun, but probably does better during winter months. I don’t get the jam to cream ratio, what’s the point of having half the amount of jam than cream? The cup of tea is a total rip off at $4.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A basic range of Twinings teabags served in a cup, or perhaps a teapot if you request one.

Price: $$

Overall: Overpriced tourist trap.

Location: 2070 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin NSW 2758 Ph: 02 4567 1195 facebook.com

Reviewed March 2019

Coffee on Isabella

DT@Coffee on Isabellas-Wingham

Compared to some of the other cafes in Wingham, Coffee on Isabella is the sort of cafe that might go under the radar. It’s friendly, simply decorated and unassuming, not really the type of cafe that might draw in the tourists. However the Devonshire Tea special lures me in. There’s a choice of plain or date scones, and I go for the plain, which is slightly sweet but a bit tough on the bottom – probably from being microwaved. The strawberry jam is average, but I don’t mind it as it’s like the jam from my childhood, chunky and from a can. The thickly whipped cream is a bonus and does wonders on improving the scone.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: An array of Twinings tea bags served in either a cup or a tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Pleasant and unassuming.

Location: 97 Isabella St, Wingham NSW 2429 Ph: 02 6553 0600

Reviewed April 2019

Seraphine Cafe

DT@Seraphine Cafe-Maitland#.jpg

Regional galleries are always interesting; you never know what you’re going to come across. The small gallery has enough space for a exhibition (Hill End artist Rosemary Valedon was exhibiting at the time), and the attached Gallery Shop has a wide range of well-made, innovative and creative wares highlighting local artists. Named after the 18th century French artist, Seraphine Cafe is the ideal meeting place for a meal or a coffee, regardless whether art is your thing. It’s buzzing, and tables are hard to come by at peak times. There are tables in the cobbled courtyard outside, but considering it is 40 degrees out there, the air conditioned indoors is definitely more popular. I take the half serve of scones (one fresh homemade scone), which incidentally is soft and heavenly. The raspberry jam is rich and tart and the double thick cream a perfect accompaniment.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$ to $$$

Overall: Quality art exhibits, interesting gallery shop, spacious cafe and overall great Devonshire Tea.

Location: Maitland Regional Art Gallery, 230 High St, Maitland NSW 2320
Ph: 02 4934 7264 mrag.org.au

Reviewed February 2019

Sanctuary Cafe and Restaurant

DT@The Sanctuary Cafe-Warriewood Flower Power#

I’m not sure what Flower Power Warriewood is like on the weekends, but during the week the crowds are non-existent and it’s a pleasure to potter around the plants and homewares, and to pick up herbs for the garden. This is my second visit to the Sanctuary Cafe and Restaurant in four years and things have changed – for the better.  We’re told that they bake 90 scones every three days, but I don’t think they baked today. The scones are a vast improvement on the wholemeal ones I had in 2014. They are light with a slight crispiness from the heating. The Hanks jams are a treat, and I find myself tossing up between the fig and the sour cherry. The cream is thankfully fresh but too aerated. Good to see some good quality loose-leaf teas and a proper tea cup.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A good basic range of Tea Blossom loose-leaf teas plus a few interesting ones, served in a small Japanese iron teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Check for the Devonshire Tea special.

Location: Flower Power Garden Centre Warriewood, 22 Macpherson St, Warriewood NSW 2102 Ph: 02 9979 2557 sanctuarycafe.com.au

Reviewed in October 2018

Hazelhurst Cafe

DT@Hazelhurst Cafe-Gymea#

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre is tucked away in the back streets of Gymea, and I had no idea that it was there. The centre is a triple treat. There’s an art gallery, and the day I visit the local artist is in residence and on hand for a chat. There’s also a pottery exhibition in the arts centre, and some pottery for sale. However, it feels like the Hazelhurst Cafe is the centrepiece of the place and attracts a large crowd that fills every table. The tables spill out onto an attractive terrace that overlooks shady gardens, and although the place is embedded in suburbia, you wouldn’t know it. The cafe space is large, light and airy, and the outdoor terrace is a joy. The scones on the other hand don’t impress like the cafe does. The two fruit scones are dry and stale; they actually taste like they are from a supermarket or a bakery. The big dollop of Hanks triple berry jam is rich and tasty, and very good for a commercial jam. This paired with the equally big dollop of double thick cream, still can’t save the scones.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A decent selection of loose-leaf teas served in a Japanese iron teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A lovely space, but shame about the scones.

Location: Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, 782 Kingsway, Gymea NSW 2227
Ph: 02 8536 5700 hazelhurst.com.au

Reviewed October 2018

The Fox Cafe

DT@The Fox Cafe-Wahroonga#2

Situated far from the main Wahroonga shopping area, The Fox Cafe is in a small cluster of businesses not far from the Seven Adventist Hospital. Attracting a mix of locals and hospital visitors, the cafe is popular. Indoors can get noisy, so opt for the outdoor dining. The scone arrives already cut and totally unappetising. It’s dry and bread-like, and tastes like it’s made from a packet mix. The squirt from a can of super light cream and portion control jams only adds to the disappointing spread. It’s a shame as the cafe food is good, but just not the Devonshire Tea.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapothalf

Cream: teapot3

Tea: A basic range of Simplicity tea bags served in a decent sized iron teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: An unpretentious cafe in a quiet residential area.

Location: 2/178 Fox Valley Rd, Wahroonga NSW 2076 Ph: 02 9487 7406

Reviewed November 2018