An indoor/outdoor cafe on a quiet thoroughfare connecting busy Military Road to the more serene Woolworths car park, Mediterranean Paradise is the latest cafe to take up residence in this prime location. The Greek cafe/restaurant is a welcome change to the Neutral Bay dining scene and rounds off the plethora of offerings. I miss the small sign attached to a menu board spruiking Maria’s scones on the way in, so am surprised to see a tray of scones sitting on the counter at a Greek restaurant. Scones aren’t on the very extensive menu, so I’m not sure whether they are a constant, or whether Maria bakes when she feels like it. My scone arrives split and lightly toasted. I’m not a fan of the toasted scone but nonetheless it tastes good, and probably would be better with a blast of heat in the oven. The average strawberry jam is paired with fresh cream dispensed from a cream canister that looks tidy, but is too light for me. It’s a friendly place and the presentation of the DT spread, is better than most.
Tea: A selection of loose-leaf teas served in a lovely teapot.
Overall: Not a bad cafe in the middle of Neutral Bay away from noisy and hectic Military Road.
Location: Theo Arcade, 202-212 Military Rd, Neutral Bay NSW 2089 Ph: 02 9953 4623 business.site
Reviewed in January 2020
Passing by, still sleepy after rolling off the Spirit of Tasmania’s night crossing, my partner balks at stopping at a winery restaurant, as he feels underdressed. Fowles Wines Cellar Door Restaurant is neither too posh during breakfast nor overpriced, and is an easy 90-minute drive north along the Hume Motorway from Melbourne. It’s much a destination rather than just a pitstop to refuel. Firstly, the beautifully designed building is cavernous with some fine touches like the floor to ceiling glass around the dining room to let as much of the surrounding countryside in, and the industrial-style plumbing and old-style cement laundry tubs that have us talking about how well that style works here. Upon entering is the understated shop that sells everything from wine and jams to cookbooks and unusual gifts. Another section offers wine tasting, then further around the corner the restaurant opens up to a bright contemporary space that specialises in paddock to plate meals with ingredients sourced locally. The scones are listed on the lunch menu, but I’m here earlier and the kitchen still has them. I’d like to say that they are fresh from the oven, but unfortunately they don’t taste like it. The scones aren’t outstanding. Fresh – yes, but, I guess in such stylish surrounds, I am expecting better. The apple berry and Chardonnay jam, also sold in the onsite store, is unusual and looks like a jelly rather than a jam. It’s not overly sweet and offers an interesting element to the spread. The cream is double thick dollop cream, which goes well with the jam, and livens up the scone. Next time I’ll stop by for lunch as the food looks delicious!
Tea: A basic range of Larsen & Thompson loose-leaf teas served in a teapot.
Overall: A cellar door where it’s much about the whole destination rather than just the wine.
Location: 1175 Lambing Gully Rd, Avenel VIC 3664 Ph: 03 5796 2150 fowleswine.com
Reviewed in December, 2019
In 1807, farmers began settling in the area around Longford, and with the use of free convict labour, built some grand homesteads and estates. An easy visit from Launceston, the farming town is littered with historic buildings. JJ’s Bakery set up shop in 1989 in Longford in a former flour mill – The Emerald Mill. Convict built in 1834; the mill operated until 1903, and until it’s revival as a bakery in 1989 was used for a range of purposes including a soap factory and an electrical store. Today the main counter is like any other bakery, but then once further inside, diners can choose from either cosy downstairs dining or head upstairs. There are only fruit scones today and it tastes more like a hot cross bun than a scone: fruit rich, moist and spicy. The raspberry sachet jam is a lousy substitute for a pot of jam, but will have to do. The cream is unusual; gooey and slightly sweet dispensed like a Mr Whippy ice-cream. No doubt it’s the cream used by the bakery for their cakes, and to be honest, I don’t mind it. JJ’s Bakery also has bakery cafes in Launceston and Campbell Town.
Tea: A very basic range of Tea Drop pyramid tea bags served in a traditional looking teapot.
Overall: A commercial bakery franchise in a historic country town.
Location: 52 Wellington St, Longford TAS 7301 Ph: 03 6391 2364 jjsbakery.com.au
Reviewed in December 2019