Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast

Newcastle | Lake Macquarie |Central Coast |

‘Cirque Cafe and Restaurant’
dtcirque-cafe-restaurant-newcastle

After living in Sydney for so long, you learn not to take your car in to the CBD. So when I visit Newcastle, it feels weird to be able to nab a parking spot easily. Newcastle’s small population and hence chilled lifestyle, is a bit of a shock for those of us who live in the Big Smoke. With the closure of Newcastle train station, the East Newcastle feels quiet, even the vagrants have taken over the now defunct grand old Post Office across the road from Cirque Cafe and Restaurant. Nonetheless the cafe does a roaring trade. The cafe may have been a bank in its former life as notice a walk in vault that’s now used as a pantry. The ceilings are sky-high which makes the place feel enormous, but if you prefer fresh air there are a few tables out on the footpath. The two small buttermilk scones are crisp on the outside and warm and light on the inside. The tart raspberry jam is a treat, but talk about portion distortion in the opposite direction – there is barely enough for one scone. When I ask for another small petri dish of jam, the waitress is happy to oblige. The cream is a kind of Chantilly cream, I can see the vanilla bean, but it’s very light and aerated.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Handy location, close to East Newcastle, and Newcastle and Nobbys Beach.

Location: 8 Bolton St, Newcastle NSW 2300 Ph: 02 4929 6370
Reviewed in September, 2016

‘The Tea Collective’

dtthe-tea-project-newcastle4My visit to The Tea Collective starts with a squirt of scented water over the top of my head. Like a smoking ceremony, this Tea Project ritual is supposed to cleanse and help me relax. But I know it’s really about preparing my head for the mind-boggling choice of teas on the quirky tea menu. It’s a big ask to narrow down your choice to a single tea from a starting line of 70. With names like Irish Rum and Cream, Cream Tea Sauvignon and the cheeky Novocastrian Breakfast, it’s an unfair burden to put on a customer. There’s a tea for every taste; chai, green tea blends, oolong, white, herbal – it’s insane! Luckily the selective food choices are top-notch. The melt-in-your-mouth scone tastes dreamily creamy and fresh, and pairs well with the delicate flavours of the housemade rose water jam. The fresh cream is on the light side, but the sprinkle of rose petal tea leaves takes it up a rung on the presentation ladder and wins me over. After spending so much time hovering over the menu I try hard not to leave with a bag of tea, as 50 and 100 gram take home packs are available. NB: Since my visit, The Tea Project changed its name to The Tea Collective and moved to Cooks Hill. The details have been updated accordingly.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A sensational selection of award-winning (yes truly) house blended loose-leaf teas served in either a pot for one or two.

Price: $$$

Overall: A tea world hipster vibe.

Location: Upstairs of The Autumn Rooms, 127 Darby St, Cooks Hill NSW 2300
Ph: 02 49061125 theteacollective.com.au
Reviewed in September, 2016

‘Canon Food, Bar and Espresso’

DT@Cannons-Warners Bay

Just across the road from Lake Macquarie, the popular Canon Food, Bar and Espresso spills out onto the footpath along Warners Bay’s cafe strip. The venue is large and attracts the crowds, offering something for everyone; food, booze and coffee. It’s a small diversion (across the road) from the walking/jogging/cycling path that encircles Lake Macquarie, so a handy spot to factor in a break. My scone spread arrives looking cool on a breadboard and with a dusting of icing sugar. Sadly, the scones are a bit soggy on the bottom – too much time in the microwave perhaps? There’s barely enough of the ordinary strawberry jam and the light cream from a canister to cover the two generous scones. Probably fine for those who like a skerrick of toppings, but annoying for those who actually like to taste the jam and cream on their scones! The location is a bonus.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: An interesting but modest range of loose-leaf teas served in a large transparent teapot. No points for the lousy coffee cup.

Price: $$

Overall: A large buzzy cafe.

Location: 460 The Esplanade, Warners Bay NSW 2282 Ph: 02 4948 0049 canonfoodbarespresso.com.au

Reviewed April 2019


‘Doubletake Cafe’
DT@Doubletake Cafe - Toronto#2Only a few minutes walk separates Toronto’s cafes and the shores of Lake Macquarie. From the outdoor seating area of Doubletake Cafe, the lake and it’s well-manicured shoreline beckon, promising a chance to walk off sweet indulgences. By the time I arrive at the cafe (lunchtime), the scones have already sold out, even though they are on the menu. Luckily, the kind kitchen staff whips up a couple just to keep us customers happy, and we settle in to the lake view. The scones, fresh out of the oven, have a delicate creamy taste that pairs exceptionally well with the rich berry preserve and double thick cream. Now for that walk!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

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

Price: $$

Overall: Alfresco dining with friendly service.

Location: 4 The Boulevarde, Toronto NSW 2283 Ph:02 4959 9888

Reviewed in April, 2017


‘Gardenia Cafe’

DT@Gardenia Cafe- Warners Bay

I’m back visiting Lee Rowan’s Gardenworld, but this time the Warners Bay store. It feels more established and compact compared to the Ourimbah outlet, but the stock looks the same (or thereabouts). If you’re not here for the plants, then wander the gift shop for garden ornaments, homeware, wallets, costume jewellery, and gardening implements. The Gardenia Cafe shares the same building as the gift store, with tables spilling out into a small courtyard overlooking the nursery. If you prefer to stay indoors, the high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows gives the cafe an airy feel. The single serve scone is definitely made to order, and arrives crisp and out-of-the-oven fresh. The strawberry jam is better than average, and the cream is impressive; slightly sweet and thickly whipped. My tea arrives promptly and before my scone, unlike the sister cafe in Ourimbah.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream:  teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small range of loose-leaf tea served in a plunger pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A basic and small range of loose-leaf tea served in a plunger pot.

Location: Lee Rowan’s Gardenworld, 381 Hillsborough Rd, Warners Bay NSW 2282
Ph:02 4954 6999 leerowans.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2017


‘Lena’s Lakeside Cafe’

DT@Lena's Lakeside Cafe-Warners Bay

Warners Bay shopping precinct is just across the road from the Lake Macquarie shared walking/bike path that hugs the lake from Croudace Bay to Speers Point and beyond.  It’s a fine way to experience the lake, which is the largest coastal saltwater lake in Australia. Whether you are starting or ending here, or just passing by, Warners Bay is worth a linger. Lena’s Lakeside Cafe is conveniently located on the Esplanade and is a popular old school style cafe. There’s plenty of seating; inside, in the alleyway, or out on the footpath – although seats, like elsewhere on a Saturday morning, are tight. We try one of each of the plain and date scones. Both scones are tough and taste as though they were fresh a few days ago. The plain scone is more like a bread roll, and the date scone tastes of onions. The strawberry jam is sweet and syrupy, and the cream is super light. To be honest, the whole shebang tastes cheap and I don’t enjoy it, but if it’s a Devonshire Tea you are after then go for it.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A basic range of tea bags served in a small pot. It says Dilmah tea on the menu, however I receive an Aurora tea bag.

Price: $$

Overall: Friendly staff and a prime position on the Esplanade.

Location: 444 The Esplanade, Warners Bay NSW 2282 Ph:02 4965 7171 lenaslakesidecafe.com.au
Reviewed in April, 2017


‘Poppy’s Verandah Cafe’

DT@Verandah Cafe- Poppy's Nursery Gateshead

Poppy’s Garden & Homewares is exactly that; a garden centre that probably sells as much homeware as it does foliage. So by the time you reach Poppy’s Verandah Cafe after perusing furniture, cushions and candles, and the rest – you’ll be ready for a cuppa. Bright and airy, the cafe feels large, and although there’s lots of seating, the table configuration of twos and fours allows the space to still retain some intimacy. The scones are hard to beat; crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and so ridiculously fresh that they must be straight from the oven. It’s a shame about the sickly sweet raspberry jam, it’s okay, but these scones deserve better. The cream is way too light, that I can barely taste it. It’s a real shame when cafes can’t get the three components right. Why have perfect scones watered done with below average jam and cream? I’m yet to find out! A couple of petty gripes – the lip of my coffee cup is cracked/chipped, and the teeny tiny plate that doesn’t give me much room to dress my scones. Gluten free scones are available.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A handful of choices, all loose-leaf, and served in a small pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: Top rated scones and shopping – not a bad combination.

Location: Poppy’s Home & Garden, 83 Oakdale Rd, Gateshead NSW 2290
Ph:02 4947 8255 poppysgc.com.au
Reviewed in March, 2017


‘Wyee Nursery Cafe’

DT@Wyee Nursery Cafe-Wyee

As far as plant nurseries go, Wyee Nursery is up there with my favourites. Ignore the mostly kitsch giftware in the shop; the cosy nursery is big on personality. Not here are the sterile rows of greenery, but a collection of exotic (does a Venus Flytrap count?) and native plants, flowers of every hue, and healthy herbs. The open-plan cafe is virtually embedded within the nursery, which adds to the convivial atmosphere. I hear some talk of a bird aviary, but I leave that to a bunch of kids who trots off down to the bottom of the nursery. The date and plain scones are fresh, wholesome and more-ish. I choose the pain, but stop at one. Sensational: fluffy with a creamy texture. The Chantilly cream is sweet and slightly overpowers the vanilla beans, but it’s truly an added bonus. The only downfall is the strawberry jam – nothing more than average – but with scones and cream this good, I’m happy to overlook it.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small selection of Pickwick silk tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A quirky plant nursery serving sensational scones.

Location: 103 Wyee Rd, Wyee NSW 2259 Ph: 02 4357 1335 wyeenursery.com.au

Reviewed in March, 2017


‘Caffe Jam’

DT@Caffe Jam-East Gosford#

Away from commercial Gosford, East Gosford is where you can enjoy the water views without going too far from the biggest town on the Central Coast. East Gosford also has a strip of businesses located in the back streets a few minutes from the water. Caffe Jam has such an impressive cabinet of goodies on display I forget that I am here for a scone. The cafe is light and bright, with both indoor and outdoor seating, with street rather than water views. It’s nothing fancy, but feels like a hub for locals. The fresh housemade scones are crispy on the outside with a hint of vanilla. The fresh cream is whipped thick and firm, and is definitely a match for the quality scones. The weakest link is the berry compote style of jam. It’s more liquid than fruit and there’s barely enough for the large scone. Maybe next time I’ll ask for a refill.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A range of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant cafe with good quality food.

Location: 4/103 Victoria St, East Gosford NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4324 8708 facebook.com

Reviewed September 2018


“Cornerstone Courtyard Cafe’

DT@Cornerstone Courtyard Cafe#2

Don’t know why, but on approach, the Cornerstone Bookshop looks like a funeral parlour. Once inside it’s a massive Christian book and giftware shop, with an attached cafe. It’s as quiet as a church, so keep all conversations to a whisper while perusing the latest religious editions. There are also some non-churchy giftware such as tea ware, toys and cards available. Either sit inside, or outside in the courtyard. Surrounded by gardens, there’s a prominent fountain that creates a pleasant backdrop for the hushed conversations. Order as many scones as you like, because you may not want to stop at one. The lemon scented scones are fresh and crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. They are served with a skerrick of raspberry jam (there really isn’t enough), and thickly whipped cream. The jam is better than average and you may want to ask for a top up.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: An unusual choice of Tea Tonic loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A mellow hangout with a Christian vibe.

Location: 1 Chetwynd Rd, Erina NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4365 6225 cornerstonebooks.com.au

Reviewed September 2018


‘Cove Cafe’
IMG_4227

Terrigal Haven surely offers some of the best views in the area. With a few lookouts and a couple of cafes/restaurants perched waterside, you’re never short of a nourishing seaside view. If you’re visiting to dive the HMAS Adelaide wreck that was purpose prepared and sunk in 2011 to form an artificial reef off Terrigal and Avoca Beach, then you won’t have far to go for a ‘after dive’ scone. In the same building and right next door is Cove Cafe, which incidentally has uninterrupted ocean views. By the looks of things, they change scone varieties daily, and today they have banana scones. Yep, you’ve heard it, banana scones. This is a first for me and the chunky banana embedded scones definitely work. Moist and soft and served with ample and decent raspberry jam, the only disappointment is the too light cream. No biggie, the scones are still worth the trek even if you aren’t diving.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A magical place looking over Terrigal beaches and the coastline beyond.

Location: Scenic Hwy, The Haven, Terrigal NSW 2260 Ph: 02 4384 5083 covecafe.com.au

Reviewed February, 2015


‘Frangipani’

DT@Frangipani Cafe & PAtisserie-Gosford#

It’s prime location at the entrance to one of Gosford’s busy shopping malls makes Frangipani hard to miss. Its bright and light countenance is inviting for not just its location for people watching possibilities, but also because it’s genuinely an inviting space. The sign says that the scones have just been baked, but the plain ones looks terrible, so I opt for the date one. It comes out after spending a tad too long in the microwave, but it still looks better than the plain scones. The strawberry jam is the average stock standard cafe jam, and the cream is fresh but super light, the type you get from a cream-whipping canister. If you find yourself stuck in Gosford, Frangipani is not such a bad place to hang out.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic selection of Twinnings tea bags served in a small tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A simple place well-placed in the heart of Gosford.

Location: Imperial Centre, Shop 45, 171 Mann St, Gosford NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4324 2558

Reviewed September 2018


‘Gardenia Cafe’

DT@Gardenia Cafe-Ourimbah

Just a few minutes off the M1 (Sydney to Newcastle motorway), is Ourimbah. A sleepy Central Coast town that sees a few drive throughs from the motorway or locals doing business. Lee Rowan’s Gardenworld is easily accessible, and if you are looking to stock up on garden plants and bags of soil, and the odd piece of costume jewellery, then this place is as good as any. The large and slightly sterile Gardenia Cafe is embedded within the nursery, so like me, you’ll probably enter and leave via the gift shop. There is lots of seating indoors, with some tables outdoors lining two sides of the building. After I order at the counter and settle, my scone promptly arrives – but where is my tea (hence the lack of silver tea plunger in the photo)? There’s at least a 10-minute wait for my tea after my scone arrives. Due to the buzzing flies and my scone cooling down, I give up the wait and dig into the scone. The scone tastes as though it has been baked to order, but has a distinct ‘scone batter’ flavour – but I could be wrong. It’s good but not great. The average strawberry jam is coupled with super light cream that’s been whipped up (but not enough) in a cream canister, and both don’t do the scone any justice. However, with a scone and a cuppa under your belt, why not peruse the nursery and the gift shop before hitting the motorway?

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A handful of standard teas served in a plunger pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Large and slightly soulless, but handy for plant or giftware shopping.

Location: Lee Rowan’s Gardenworld, 72 Pacific Hwy, Ourimbah NSW 2258 
Ph: 02 4362 2822 leerowans.com.au
Reviewed in March, 2017


‘Hardy’s Bistro’

DT@Hardys Bistro-Hardys Bay

Killcare is a little bit posh, and on approach, Hardy’s Bistro might confirm observations. However, pull up a chair at this sprawling establishment and it’s all friendly service and well-priced fare. The beautiful heritage building overlooks the Hardy’s Bay Reserve and the wharf, and may have been the general store in its heyday. It certainly has that vibe, and feels like the village hub, with all outside tables in the sun taken, and most of the large indoor dining area much the same. There are lots of yummy treats, including a Devonshire Tea. The scones crumble as I tear them apart, and are textured and more cake-like than light and fluffy. They are still better than most, and the rich double dollop cream and fruity raspberry jam are a bonus. Really, how hard is it to serve quality jam and cream? The small coffee cup is annoying as I dislike drinking tea from a thick cup with a tiny handle – it’s just not right!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic choice of loose-leaf teas and a few random interesting ones, served in a tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A divine spot across from the bay.

Location: Ph: 02 4360 1667 hardysbistro.com.au

Reviewed in May, 2017


‘Hatters Tea House’

DT@Hatters Tea House - Ettalong Beach#

For me, the clincher is the quirky decor at Hatters Tea House, and that’s before I even see the tea menu. More akin to Sydney’s Redfern or Surrey Hills, I find Ettalong Beach an odd place to have such a funky cafe. There are several areas groups can sprawl out in including a semi private room and a sunny outdoor courtyard. If you manage to get through browsing the twenty-two teas on the menu plus the extra sixteen sold in the cafe, you can then admire the surrounds; pressed metal walls, hat boxes, retro tea sets and fancified gumboots, it’s an eclectic mix of 1970s furnishings and vintage trimmings. You have to order at the counter but at the same time get to salivate over the goodies on display. I want to try the creme brulee cupcakes and the gluten-free chocolate brownies, but then I remember I am here for the scones. The scones, although small, are tasty and fresh and worth the hike to this corner of the Central Coast. The cream is light but freshly whipped and the blueberry on top is a nice touch. There’s a choice of raspberry or strawberry jam. The Devonshire Tea is served with either English Breakfast or Prince of Wales tea, but I drink neither of those and choose the Japanese Lime, which adds and extra 50c to my bill.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: 22 loose-leaf teas on the menu and a further 16 on the shelf that you can buy.

Price: $$

Overall: A top choice for girlie get togethers.

Location: 281 Ocean View Rd, Ettalong Beach NSW 2257
Ph: 02 4344 5525 hattersteahouse.com.au


Reviewed in August, 2013


‘Killcare Kiosk’

DT@Killcare Kiosk-Killcare Beach#

It’s almost winter and Killcare Beach looks inviting. The Surf Life Saving Club, backed by towering cliffs, looks out to the length of the beach and the rock pool out front. The Killcare Kiosk located at ground level in the Surf Club building is quite sophisticated and serves more than hot chips and chiko rolls. I’m sure it’s a different story in summer, but by lunchtime, the deck is shaded and cool, so the sunny lawns are where the action is.  The specials board says they have scones and luckily I nab the last scone. It arrives already dressed with a thin layer of jam and a huge dollop of slightly sweet and thickly whipped cream. There is so little jam that I can barely taste it, or is it that there’s so much cream? No doubt fresh this morning (?), my small scone is a bit hard in the centre and slightly dry. It’s not a great synopsis, but overall it’s a great value for money DT, and the scone is far better than your average scone.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small selection of Twining tea bags, and a few varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: The location and proximity to the lawn, beach and rock pool.

Location: Killcare Surf Life Saving Club, 81 Beach Dr, Killcare NSW 2257
Ph: 02 4360 1330

Reviewed in May, 2017


‘Palacinki Cafe’

DT@Palacinki Cafe - Ettalong Beach#2

Open on weekends and public holidays, the undercover Ettalong Markets is more a relaxed shopping complex than a market,as we know it. Selling all manner of things, there are several restaurants and cafes, a variety of vendors, plus a cinema. I see the blackboard advertising ‘Devonshire Teas’ and follow it over to a cafe that reminds me more of a kiosk, servicing tables in the middle of a courtyard. There are lots of sumptuous looking cakes in the cake cabinet and the large plain and date scones are stacked high on glass cake plates. The serving with tea or coffee is for one scone with either cream and jam or butter, and is inexpensive. It’s served on a styrofoam plate with a plastic knife and feels very disposable. In keeping with the theme, perhaps the cup and saucer should be disposable too! Unfortunately my date scone is microwaved far longer than necessary, losing it’s flavour. The cream is very light and the jam stock standard.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good choice of T2 teabags served in a pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A good place to take a rest from shopping.

Location: Ettalong Markets, Ocean View Rd, Ettalong Beach NSW 2257 palacinkicafe.com
Reviewed in August, 2013


‘Point Cafe’

Gosford’s Regional Gallery is tucked away in a side street a few blocks from the main road and overlooks the Japanese Gardens. The place is a nice little diversion if you are passing by on a winter’s day as the gallery is worth a look, and although the Japanese Gardens are closed when I visit, they do look inviting enough for a short stroll. The place is designed for functions, but luckily when I sit down to take tea in the cafe it’s only busy with local lunchtime trade. The scones are fresh, crusty and on the small side. Unfortunately there isn’t enough jam and the cream is very light and airy. Nonetheless if you find yourself in the vicinity, drop by but make sure you ask for more jam!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Teabags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Not bad for a gallery cafe.

Location: Gosford Regional Gallery & Japanese Gardens, 36 Webb St, East Gosford NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4324 8099 pointcafe.com.au

Reviewed in June, 2012


‘Ruby’s Cafe & Books’

DT@Ruby's Cafe & Books-Umina Beach#

I can’t describe the beach at Umina Beach. If there is one, I don’t see it, as I’m too busy sniffing out scones in the main shopping strip. I stumble across Ruby’s Cafe & Books, and the library filled with second-hand books keeps me occupied for far too long. There are a few cabinets with collectibles, but it’s definitely the books that take centre stage here. Large tables are set amongst the shelves of books; perfect for a book club meet or for those who want to spread out. Cosy arm chairs and tables for two are at the front of the cafe, as well as some outdoor settings. There are both plain or date scones, and I try the plain. I think, when fresh, the scone might be lovely, but it has been heated in the microwave for far too long and it’s chewy. The jam and cream are served on Chinese soup spoons – cute. The scone is large, and there isn’t enough of the condiments to go around. Maybe that’s a good thing as the jam is sickly sweet and the highly aerated cream is super-super light. The best of the experience is the tea-cup – I am smitten!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: The cutest cafe on the strip.

Location: 322 West St, Umina Beach NSW 2257 Ph: 02 4342 9657

Reviewed in May, 2017


‘Sage Cafe’ 

DT@Sage Cafe#3

Sage Cafe sits in the fresh air on the outdoor, or atrium level of the Erina Fair Shopping Centre. It’s a winning choice on a winter’s day, especially to catch some winter sun and even the feeling that you’re in a shopping mall. I’m here on a recommendation so I am expecting good things, and it doesn’t disappoint. The large airy cafe has a variety of seating: inside, on the enclosed verandah and outside at the entrance. Service is swift, although ordering at the counter can get tedious if it’s busy and the cashier isn’t up to speed with the ins and outs of the ordering and payment process. My citron scones arrive looking delectably crisp and are soft and fluffy on the inside. I am blown away by the jams – two house made flavours. The only problem is, I can’t get a straight answer from the two wait staff I ask. The first comes back with blackberry and peach and strawberry, which I know for a fact neither is a match. And the second answer comes back as mixed berry and ‘I don’t know there wasn’t a label on the container.’ I’ll go with the mixed berry, and the second have a distinct marmalade flavour, although it could had been where the peach comes in. All I can say that scones taste better with good quality jam. The whipped fresh cream is acceptable but light. With high marks for two out of three factors, it’s a Devonshire Tea success!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 20 T2 loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Superb, I just wish someone on staff had an idea about what the jam flavours were.

Location: Erina Fair Shopping Centre, Level 1, 620-658 Terrigal Drv, Erina Fair NSW 2250 
Ph: 02 4365 5655 sagecafe.com.au


Reviewed June, 2014


‘Silver Tree Cafe’

DT@Silver Tree Cafe-Erina Fair#2

You won’t find me hanging out in a mall in my spare time, but you never know. The Silver Tree Cafe at Erina Fair Shopping Centre is a no-nonsense place to take a break from the maze of shops. Slip in to one of the booths towards the back of the cafe for some quiet or pull up a pew that looks out towards the mall to people watch. The homemade scones are pretty good, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and I’ve got to say I’m happily surprised. However, the jam is average and the whipped cream is quite light. The T2 tea is a bonus but what’s with the teeny tiny pot?

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 9 choices of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a tiny pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A no-nonsense cafe.

Location: Erina Fair Shopping Centre, Level 1, ShpT34, Terrigal Drv, Erina Fair NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4367 4448


Reviewed June, 2014


‘The Ark Coffee and Takeaway’

DT@Rockpool Retreat-Norah Head#2

The sound of the muso’s mellow tunes wafts on the warm spring breeze, beckoning diners to come sit and listen. The Ark Coffee and Takeaway is a popular beachouse hangout serving diners in the open indoor area as well as having a kiosk counter for those not keen to leave the beach for long. Do a round trip walk from the tidal rock pool along the coast to Norah Head lighthouse. Enjoy the glorious views towards Budgewoi in the north, before heading back down Bush Street to drop into the cafe. There’s a choice of plain or date scones, and you can order as many or as little as you like. My date scone doesn’t rate high in the taste stakes, but it’s not inedible either. My partner spies the raspberry jam being dished out of a bucket with a Monbulk label on it, which tastes far better than some of the bulk jams served in other cafes. The cream is extremely light, and if the weather were a few degrees warmer, it would probably have melted before reaching my scone.

Scones: 

 Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A beachhouse style cafe conveniently located on the way to the lighthouse.

Location: 8 Bush St, Norah Head NSW 2263 Ph: 02 4397 4859 thearkcafe.com.au


Reviewed in August, 2013


‘The Little Teapot Cafe’

DT@The Little Teapot Cafe-Davistown#2

The Little Teapot Cafe conjures up visions of lazy morning and afternoon teas and more scones than you care to eat. It’s an unusual name for a cafe, considering that all day breakfasts of eggs, muesli and pancakes, and lunches of salads and sandwiches are popular. They do serve High Teas and scones are embedded on the menu in dried ink, so lazy morning and afternoon teas are possible, but before 3pm. I find the indoor dining area hectic on a Saturday morning, but a more relaxing experience can be had out in the large back garden at umbrella-shaded tables. The scones are definitely fresh. Although light and fluffy, they crumble at the slightest touch. The average jam and very light but fresh cream don’t do the scones justice. The portion of jam is on the small side considering the scones are fairly big, but all in all it’s a lovely diversion to a less visited corner of the Central Coast.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: A popular cafe with the locals, that’s a hop, step and a jump from Brisbane Waters.

Location: Ph: 02 4369 6186 facebook.com/TheLittleTeapotCafe/

Reviewed February, 2018


‘The Sanctuary Cafe’

DT@The Sanctuary Cafe-Erina Heights#2

Erina Heights on the Central Coast is not where I would expect to find a Ken Duncan Gallery. This purpose-built facility has not only spacious viewing rooms where you can ponder over your favourite image, but a 45-seat theatre that’s used for audio-visual presentations such as the current showing; Chasing the Light. Surrounded by bushland, the place is set back from the main road and fronted by a large carpark, which adds to the serenity. Under the same roof is the Sanctuary Cafe. A modern, bright and airy cafe that’s a good place to deliberate over the Ken Duncan acquisition you have in mind. There is an option to order either one or two scones, which is handy when you aren’t too hungry and there’s no one to share with. The scone is delicately light and is served with a sprinkling of icing sugar. The jam, although average, is accompanied by a pot of chilled thickly whipped cream that matches the quality of the scone, so any shortcomings of the jam may be forgiven.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic range of T2 silk teabags served in a small teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Relaxed and stylish, with some great art to peruse next door.

Location:  Ph: 02 4365 6955 

Reviewed February, 2018


‘Three Trees Cafe’

DT@Three Trees Cafe- Gosford#

On the outside Three Trees Cafe looks like a small warehouse or factory, and the small asphalt carpark out the front doesn’t help. However, once inside, it’s a different story. It’s funky, bright and airy with one wall that literally opens up to let in the natural air and light. There are some small tables out the front, perfect if you have a pooch in tow. The scones are good, so I suggest ordering a couple. A civilised size, they are creamy and fluffy, although slightly too nuked on this occasion. They are served with a healthy serving of rich mixed berry jam and double thick cream. The slate plate makes for an impressive presentation.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic range of loose-leaf teas served in a two-cup teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Definitely do not judge the exterior of the building to what lies within.

Location: 16 Laycock St, North Gosford NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4339 3713 threetreescafe.com

Reviewed September 2018


‘Tommy’s Cafe’

DT@Tommys Cafe-East Gosfor

Tommy’s Cafe looks pretty and sits not too far from the foreshore of Brisbane Waters on NSW’s Central Coast. It looks very Hampton’s; fresh and inviting, with lots of outdoor seating both on the deck and the footpath, and it’s far enough from the main road as to not to be bothered by the traffic. The menu looks interesting and it’s the kind of place you could spend a lazy hour or two. But, not all pretty places serve good scones. To be honest, the Devonshire Tea is lousy. The scone is like a bread roll, is dry, and arrives already cut in half. The strawberry jam is below average in quality, and although the cream is fresh, it is super light and airy. There’s a small gallery/shop that is worth checking out for some unusual pieces.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$

Overall: Lovely cafe but disappointing scones.

Location: 1a Gertrude Pl, Gosford NSW 2250 Ph: 02 4321 1141 tommyscafegosford.com

Reviewed September 2018


‘Vanilla On Church’

DT@Vanilla on Church#

The beachside resort of Terrigal is busy. It’s a balmy winter’s day and the traffic is crawling aa snail’s pace and the cafes and the Crown Plaza Terrigal are bursting with people. Stroll along the beach under Norfolk Pines or do nothing and absorb the resort ambience. Considering the plethora of eateries I only find Vanilla On Church selling scones, so I pull up a chair outdoors in the disappearing sun and nab the last two scones. The first thing I notice when my Devonshire Tea arrives is the cream. I’m not sure whether I should be shocked, appalled or just puzzled by the puddle of liquid cream, as it is the runniest cream I have ever been served with my scones. Imagine the other end of the spectrum to clotted cream, that’s what I have. I’m too stunned to take the cream back and ask whether it was a mistake as perhaps they are too lazy to whip the cream that’s obviously been poured straight out of the container. But maybe the dish has come straight out of the piping hot dishwasher and the double thick cream has melted? I’ll never know, but all I can say is – weird. The jam looks synthetic, and alongside the cream, there’s not enough to go around. The best part of the ensemble without a doubt are the scones: crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Maybe the cream is a one-off and you have better luck if you visit.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A variety of Q Tea loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Although a block from the beach, it’s still a nice sunny corner to while away some time.

Location: 17 Church St, Terrigal NSW 2260 Ph: 02 4385 1960 vanillaonchurch.com.au

Reviewed June, 2014


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.