Barneys at Bookham

DT@BArneys at Bookham

When driving along the Hume Highway, sometimes the big services centres just don’t cut it. If you prefer personal service and a chilled place to rest from the monotony of highway driving, Barneys at Bookham is the place. Don’t blink, lest you’ll miss it, and if you don’t catch the ‘Barneys at Bookham billboard’, it’s easy to zoom on by. Feeling like it’s in the middle of nowhere, the enclave includes a few houses, a scrap business, a couple of churches and of course the cafe. Scones are served in either one’s or two’s and although each scone is wrapped separately in plastic in the display counter, they aren’t bad. Light and fluffy, they are the best part of the spread considering the strawberry jam is ordinary and the dairy whip cream synthetic. Sit outside in the large dining area and watch, in the distance, the Hume Highway whizz by.

Scones:  

Jam:

Cream:  

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

Price: $$

Overall: A great alternative to the Hume Highway service centres.

Location: 24 Fagan Dr, Bookham NSW 2582 Ph: 0435 907 773 barneysofbookham.net.au

Reviewed in December, 2019

Planted Cootamundra

DT@Planted Cootamundra#2

Surrounded by farming properties, Cootamundra is a typical rural service town. Sir Donald Bradman was born here and it was a major railway junction between Sydney and Melbourne back when the railway was king! Have a sticky beak around town at the heritage buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century, and of course the Victorian Italianate style railway station. Dig below the surface of the country town’s wide streets and you’ll find a plethora of interesting eateries. Google directs me to Planted Cootamundra for scones. The whole-foods cafe is located in a bright corner cafe space and specialises in local organic seasonal food from the Riverina. I don’t expect scones at a whole-food cafe, but there they are. Delicate, light and fluffy – absolutely superb! The house-made blackberry jam is rich and fruity but is let down by the light cream dispensed from a cream canister. Although it is fresh cream it’s way too light for me. A bit of advice – don’t sit right next to the front door as it slams and can get annoying after a while.

Scones:

Jam:

Cream:  

Tea: A good range of loose-leaf tea served in a small teapot with an extra jug of hot water. The proper teacup is a bonus as well.

Price: $$

Overall: Superb housemade scones and jam served in a chilled corner cafe.

Location: 29 Wallendoon St, Cootamundra NSW 2590 Ph: 02 6942 4744 plantedcootamundra.com

Reviewed in December, 2019

Railway Station Cafe

DT@The Railway Cafe-Junee

The little town of Junee became a railway town in 1878, with the Junee railway station becoming the principal locomotive servicing and maintenance depot in southern NSW. The original timber station burnt down in 1882, which was probably lucky, because a Victorian Italianate Renaissance style station that was heritage-listed in 1999 replaced it. Although trains are not as frequent these days, it’s a wonderful reminder of the town’s glory days. The colossal original Refreshment Room acts as the Railway Station Cafe. It’s the second heritage railway station refreshment room I have been in, and they sure did make them spacious! Skyscraper high ceilings and enough space for a train load of diners, the space is a mix of modern necessities and splendid heritage. There’s a lovely lawn on the way in that has tables set up for outdoor dining. The staff are friendly and chatty, but that doesn’t help my Devonshire Tea much. The microwaved scone is soggy and I’m not sure whether it’s because it’s been in the microwave too long or it’s come out of the freezer. The strawberry jam is unimpressive and the squirt of super light cream is from a cream canister. Such a beautifully kept slice of history surely deserves a more impressive Devonshire Tea!

Scones:  

Jam:

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Tea: A small range of Temple Tea Co loose-leaf tea served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: An average Devonshire Tea in a sensational heritage-rich grand railway station refreshment room.

Location: Railway Square, Junee NSW 2663 Ph: 02 6924 1044
facebook.com/Railway-station-cafe-325736550853164/

Reviewed in December, 2019

Jardine’s Cafe

DT@Jardine's Cafe - Wagga Wagga

I’m in Wagga Wagga early so I hit Jardine’s Cafe at 9am just in time for scones fresh from the oven. The place is bright, large, and popular with locals on their way to work and the cheery barista seems to know everybody’s name. Just past a wall selling lovely giftware, there are some refectory tables and plenty of smaller tables further back surrounded in fresh white interiors. Alternatively, on the footpath there’s inviting white timber garden-like furniture that would be more at home in an English garden. The scones are excellent, just the right balance: light, fluffy, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The commercial raspberry jam is decent quality and the whipped cream is super thick. Although nothing fancy, the tea is served with a proper tea cup.

Scones:  

Jam:

Cream:  

Tea: A range of loose-leaf teas in either a pot for one or two. The pot for one is plenty big to sit on.

Price: $$

Overall: Fresh, bright and friendly with excellent scones.

Location: 2/68 Baylis St, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 Ph: 02 6925 8897 facebook.com/jardinescafes/

Reviewed in December, 2019

Margaret & Agnes

DT@MArgaret & Agnes - Portland

I’m in town with another 4,000 hungry cyclists, and food in cafes is disappearing like hotcakes after today’s long ride. At Margaret & Agnes I spy the pile of date scones on the counter and the friendly staff offer to put a scone aside for me so I can catch a few shops before they close. How nice is that? The date scone is huge, and I only need one. As it’s a date scone, it’s served with a few sachets of butter as well as the jam and cream. It’s over-microwaved and ends up being a bit dry around the edges. Straight out the oven or earlier in the day, the scone would be amazing – shame. The two sachets of strawberry jam are pathetic, but the double thick cream somewhat saves it. In fine weather grab one of the outdoor tables.

Scones:  

Jam:

Cream:  

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

Price: $$

Overall: A bright and welcoming cafe located along the waterfront strip of businesses.

Location: 73 Bentinck St, Portland VIC 3305 Ph: 03 5548 4768 facebook.com

Reviewed in November, 2019

Charlie’s On East

DT@Charlie's on East - Port Fairy

A visit to Port Fairy is not complete without checking out the beaches. And what beaches! The white sand and turquoise waters of East Beach goes on forever, and in good weather there is no other place you want to be. Perched above the East Beach Surf Club sits Charlie’s On East, a simple cafe that feeds off its prime surfside position. Perhaps prime real estate on one of Australia’s most famous and beautiful coastlines doesn’t warrant friendly service or maybe I am just unlucky and the waitress is having a bad day. I arrive just in time to nab the last scone, and from my later investigations in Port Fairy, I think the last scone in the whole town. One scone is enough as it is huge. It tastes much better than it looks and is fresh with a hint of vanilla. The average strawberry jam is acceptable but doesn’t do the scone any favours, but the double thick cream is a saviour. Try for a table out on the balcony for views of superb East Beach.

Scones:  

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Tea: A range of Tea Drop tea silk tea bags served in a three-quarters filled tiny teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Fantastic endless views of East Beach and beyond.

Location: 4 Hughes Ave, Port Fairy VIC 3284 Ph: 03 5568 2885

Reviewed in November, 2019

Cafe Bear & Scoobs

DT@Cafe Bear & Scoobs - North Geelong#

On the way to Cafe Bear & Scoobs I pass a Sphinx with a bottle shop underneath:  unusual to say the least, but an interesting gimmick for a pub. This part of town feels slightly ‘light industrial’ and I am surprised to find a cafe with giant teddy bears sitting at either side of the entrance in this part of town. I wonder what the guys in hi-vis clothing think? It doesn’t seem to bother them, because by the look of all the food coming out of the kitchen, and all the yummy cakes in the cabinet, I understand why. It’s a motley bunch of customers: with groups of women in exercise wear chatting over coffees and solo diners reading the paper. All I can say is that whoever owns the cafe knows a thing or two about how a Devonshire Tea should be. The scones are incredibly fresh, creamy and absolutely delicious. The organic strawberry jam is tart and absolutely fabulous, and a long way from the sickly sweet strawberry jams that are often on offer in cafes. The lashings of double thick cream is a nice addition and really tops off an already superb spread. The teddy biscuits with the tea are a nice touch.

Scones:  

Jam:

Cream:  

Tea: A selection of Tea Forte pyramid tea bags served with a huge tea cup of hot water and beautifully presented on it’s own tray.

Price: $$

Overall: A huge space with a delectable scone, jam and cream spread.

Location: 18 Thompson Rd, North Geelong VIC 3215 Ph: 0408 290 298 cafebearandscoobs.com.au

Reviewed in November, 2019