Sydney

Sorry, but WordPress has swallowed the content of this page and we are studiously trying to get the content back up and running…soonish…

City | Inner West | West | East | South | Lower North Shore | Northern Beaches | Northwest |

‘Botanic Gardens Restaurant’

dtbotanic-gardens-cafe

I was hoping the Botanic Gardens Restaurant served scones but unfortunately I find myself downstairs at the cafe instead. I am told that they have recently installed a screened wall to keep the pesky birds out and away from the food. I look longingly out to the tables under umbrellas and a canopy of trees, but remember the birds and visions of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie comes to mind. Smack bang in the middle of the Botanic Gardens and far enough away so you don’t hear the city traffic, the gardens are an idyllic place to escape the CBD across Macquarie street if it starts getting to you. It’s a very casual affair where you order and pay at the counter and even clear your own table (probably because of the birds). The scones are mammoth crusty obscurely shaped lumps in either plain or raisin. The plate is far too small and I end up eating it half off the table as it’s really crumbly and there’s also an odd sweetness to it. Two tiny portion controlled jams, which is ridiculous considering the size of the scone, are served and the cream arrives in an espresso coffee cup. The cream is fresh but needs to be whipped rather than dispensed from a bottle, as its way too light. I’d say enjoy the gardens and get some scones somewhere else when you emerge.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A variety of tea (teabags) in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Lacks charm unlike the restaurant above it.

Location:  The Royal Botanic Garden & Domain, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9241 2419 rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed in November, 2012


‘Cafe Cino’

DT @ The Hilton #4

A great central location in Sydney’s CBD, Caffe Cino is your typical generic lobby style cafe in a busy five-star hotel. The public spaces at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel are lovely and light filled and the lobby is a hive of activity. Short on ambience, the cafe serves an average Devonshire Tea with small scones heated in the microwave. The airy whipped cream is non-eventful but the best thing is the Beerenberg jam that is served in its own jar. Maybe try something else on the menu.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: Good sized pot with a limited selection of loose-leaf teas.

Price: $$$

Overall: Light, airy and open.

Location: The Lobby, The Hilton Hotel, 488 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9266 2000 hiltonsydney.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2011


‘Caffe Contessa’

DT@Cafe Contessa-Westfield Sydney#

You may not notice Caffe Contessa, especially if you are making a beeline for The Tea Salon, which incidentally is only a hop, step and a jump away on the same floor. The cafe offers High Teas among other things as well as date scones. When I ask how they are served, I am told with butter and jam – cream one dollar extra. I was already committed to the date scones, but little did I know that they were served toasted. Not a fan of toasted scones, it’s hard to get past the sweetness of the dates, the inferior quality jam and the can cream all together. It’s a pleasant corner in Westfield for a cuppa nonetheless.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small selection of Tea Drop pyramid bag teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Visit if you like toasted scones.

Location: Westfield Sydney, Level 4, Pitt Ln, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 8072 8003

Reviewed August, 2014


‘Cafe Victoria’

IMG_3295

In the Myers department store in Sydney’s CBD, I find the location of Cafe Victoria quite peculiar. In my mind the feminine touches, classical music and promises of High Tea would be more suitable to a clientele more predisposed to gowns and intimates rather than suits and shirts? Maybe it’s for weary girlfriends, partners and wives who are waiting for their other half to make a decision on whether to take the handkerchief or a tie to wear with their suit? The cafe in the corner of the menswear department has a cosy design but the pièce de résistance is the bar and stools running along the picture windows. I do love a view, and this city view looks straight across George and Market streets to the Queen Victoria Building and the busy intersection below. It’s obviously my lucky day as this is the first time I have seen scones available at this cafe. My sultana scone is, politely put, average, and quite hard on the outside. The small serving of ultra sweet jam and cream from a can is rather disappointing. The only worthy mention goes to the Tea Tonic tea and that city view!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

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

Price: $$

Overall: Take advantage of the windows and view, especially if you have been indoors for too long.

Location: Myers Department Store, Level 3, 436 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9238 9560

Reviewed August, 2014


‘City Extra’

IMG_5943

Franchise and 24/7 cafe/restaurants in highly trafficked tourist areas in major cities are not the kind of places I have scored decent scones. So it is with very low expectations that I slide in to a seat at City Extra, Circular Quay. Fortunately it’s not overly busy this particular Saturday afternoon and we nab an outdoor table overlooking the busy Circular Quay thoroughfare filled with ferry commuters, and locals and visitors ambling along enjoying the winter sun and all that the busy hub offers. The inside booths and array of pancakes on the menu makes City Extra feel very American, and back when it opened in 1986, it did feel just that. I don’t expect to find scones on the menu, so I have never bothered to stop by, which is a shame as the scones are crispy and fresh out of the oven, no soggy microwaved scones here. They do taste a bit salty to me, but my partner doesn’t pick it up. I do notice on the busy menu, it’s designed to look like a folded newspaper, that all items are made on the premises. Call me cynical, but I don’t always believe what I read. However, in the scone case, I think they are right! The jam is average, and the fresh cream is from a whipping siphon and is particularly light. But with scones this good, the jam and cream don’t spoil the spread. The Circular Quay venue has extended trading hours but City Extra Parramatta is open 24/7.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

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

Price: $$

Overall: A handy location with extended trading hours right at Circular Quay.

Location: E4 East Podium Circular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9241 1422 cityextra.com.au

Reviewed May, 2015


‘Cortile Lounge’


‘Crossroads Bar’

IMG_1429

Tucked away high above Market Street in Sydney’s CBD, you’d be forgiven for not knowing where the Swissotel Sydney is. Pass through the easily missed door at street level and ride the escalator to the eighth floor and a whole big open hotel world awaits. The Crossroads Bar, in front of the hotel reception, is the main hub and acts as a bar and all day dining venue. It’s open and bright, helped by a sizeable chunk of floor to ceiling windows that overlook Market Street. The tables by the window are very popular and if you miss out on one of these there are also several intimate pods (the modern day booths) to sit at. It’s Monday afternoon and very busy with many customers enjoying High Tea, so I have a more than expected wait for both service and my scones. I can’t help but notice that my Devonshire Tea looks more Oriental than English and I am half expecting a set of chopsticks to be presented. The plain and sultana scones are both small, and exceptionally crusty on the outside with not much on the inside. There is also an aftertaste that reminds me of pancakes made from premixed batter. The jam is a little runny and the cream, said to be ‘Sydney organic honey cream’, although lovely, I can’t quite taste the difference to plain whipped cream.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A variety of Sir Thomas Lipton loose-leaf teas served in a heavy pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: A respite from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD.

Location: Swissotel Sydney, 68 Market St Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9238 8888 swissotel.com/hotels/sydney/

Reviewed in August, 2013


 ‘D’ough Espresso’

IMG_3639

Another scone offering in Sydney’s CBD is D’ough Espresso in The Galleries opposite Sydney’s QVB. Date and plain scones are listed on the breakfast menu but when I turn up mid afternoon there is only one plain scone left. Ordering a tea and scone, I ask how they are served having learned my lesson in ordering scones in city cafes. I ask them not to toast my scone and to ditch the butter and replace it with cream. None of this is a problem and I take a seat. My tea arrives in a mug that is three-quarters full, and after perusing the menu I realise that you can get a pot, but I am not even asked by the cashier. The scone arrives cut in half but luckily not toasted. The cream is from a can and extremely light and the Beerenberg jam is in portion controlled packets.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapothalf

Cream: teapot3

Tea: A small selection of T2 tea bag teas served in a mug or teapot.

Price: $$

Overall:  It’s not the best CBD option, but if you are short of time.

Location: The Galleries, Lower Ground, 500 George St, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9265 6888

Reviewed October, 2014


‘Expresso Bar @ David Jones Foodhall’

DT@Expresso Bar @ David Jones Foodhall, Sydney#

Finding a cafe that serves scones is like finding a needle in a haystack sometimes. With time to spare between appointments I decide to try to sniff out some scones in the David Jones Foodhall in Market Street. After pinning for London over tins of Harrods and Fortnum & Mason teas, I locate what I’m looking for at Expresso Bar, a European style coffee bar opposite a cake shop with cabinets loaded with decadent cakes and pastries. Although outside, the mercury is nudging the mid 30s, I’m as cool as a cucumber and late enough to miss the lunchtime crowds. There is no set ‘Devonshire Tea’ on the menu but rather, you can order as many scones as you like at $3.00 a pop and that includes the cream and jam, plus add a tea, or coffee for that matter, after all it is an ‘Expresso Bar’. With plain and sultana scones to choose from, I go with the plain, and although not mind-blowing, it’s light and tasty – just the right texture without making you feel like you’ve eaten a horse. The miniature jar of Beerenberg raspberry jam is the perfect amount for one scone, but the cream tastes like it’s straight from the can, too light, too airy and not enough by a long shot – unless you’re on a diet that is.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A choice of a bunch of Twining’s tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A busy thoroughfare with great people watching possibilities.

Location: David Jones, 65-77 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9266 5544 
davidjones.com.au/Store-Services/Food/Food-hall

Reviewed in October, 2013


 ‘Foodoo Coffee Lounge’

DT@Foodoo Coffee Lounge - Myers George St

Tucked amongst the bed, bath and kitchen ware on level 5 of Myers Sydney City is relaxed Foodoo Coffee Lounge, which is an oasis for shoppers who need a break from chasing after Christmas sales. I’ve been past the cafe before, checking for scones at different times of the year, but this is the first time I have seen the cafe’s cabinets so well stocked. Maybe it’s due to the busy Christmas period, I’m not sure, but I find scones wedged in the corner. Impressive are the 15 choices of Tea Tonic loose-leaf teas – a shame the teapots aren’t a tad bigger though. You can order as many scones as you like, so I try one and it arrives with one portion of jam, which is definitely not enough, and a big squirt of cream from a can. The scone isn’t bad at all and would punch above average if served with better quality jam and cream. When I asked, there was no problem getting more jam for the other half of the scone.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A surprisingly great choice of Tea Tonic loose-leaf teas and some tea bag varieties.

Price: $$

Overall: A nice spot for a cup of Tea Tonic tea, but skip the scone.

Location: Level 5, 436 George St, Sydney 2000 NSW Ph: 02 9238 9111

Reviewed in December, 2013


‘Cicco Bar’

dtcicco-bar-chatswood-chase
This is another franchised cafe that is part of the Westfield and shopping centre fabric. Open plan like most of the cafes on the middle section of the floor, Cicco Bar serves the standards; eggs, coffee, cake and sandwiches. It’s calm and the tables are separate enough to allow privacy if you’ve brought your laptop. The plain and date scones make the menu that means they are not going anywhere soon. I try the plain scone, which is warm and gluey. It’s neither good nor bad, but forgettable. It’s served with standard cafe strawberry jam, and cream that tastes synthetic and super light. Actually, the only thing that this cream and real cream have in common, is the colour. Overall, it’s an average spread, which tends to be the norm in these types of franchised cafes.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A small range of Chamellia tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Standard franchise café at the top of the Chase.

Location: Chatswood Chase, 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW 2067 Ph: 02 9419 8400

Reviewed in February, 2017

i

k

n

j

style=”border: 6px solid black;”


‘Bobbin Inn Cafe’
DT@Bobbin Inn Cafe -Bobbin Inn NP #3.JPG

It’s possible to arrive in the Bobbin Head section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park by either car, boat or on foot. This easily accessible section of the National Park is a wonderful place to escape the city for some bushwalking, fishing, boating or simply for a picnic. The Bobbin Inn Cafe shares the historic art-deco Inn with a small National Parks office and has a large outdoor sitting area that allows diners to bask in the wintersun or take refuge under umbrellas in the summer. There’s a choice of plain and fruit scones that although are huge, aren’t outstanding, with the fruit scones not tasting very fruity. The aerated cream is way too light and although the jam is okay, there just isn’t enough to go around considering the size of the scones. Even though the Devonshire Tea doesn’t take top marks, I recommend a visit to the cafe nonetheless, just for the view and the overall ambience of being amongst nature.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: The few options available are tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A great city escape.

Location: Bobbin Head Rd, Bobbin Head NSW 2076 Ph: 02 9457 7170
bobbininncafe.com.au

Reviewed in August, 2012


‘Bongiorno Beecroft’

DT@Buongiorno Beecroft

The Buongiorno Beecroft is a small Italian cafe tucked away in an arcade in Beecroft shopping village. Before I order one of the sultana scones sitting on the counter, I ask how they are served just to be sure that I am having a Devonshire Tea. There’s a discussion in the servery about the pronunciation of ‘scone,’ which sounds absurd, like I am the first person to have ever ordered one. There’s also a small glitch with the tea order. Although I repeat my tea order twice, I still end up with the wrong tea. My scone arrives split in half and toasted, with a distinct sweet aroma. It’s hard to comment on a toasted scone; perhaps it’s to disguise the lack of freshness? The ordinary jam is super-duper sweet and so too is the squirt of cream straight from a can. Overall the whole shebang is too sweet.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3

Tea: A selection of six T4u loose-leaf teas and a range of tea bag teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A tucked away Italian themed cafe.

Location: 6-8 Hannah St, Beecroft NSW 2119 Ph: 02 9484 5034

Reviewed August, 2014


‘Café Belle Fleur’

We arrive at Cafe Belle Fleur, which is situated in Flower Power Glenhaven at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. There are quite a few scones in the cabinet, but by the time someone bothers to seat us and look our way, I notice the scone supply dwindling. I take matters into my own hands and ask one of the three wait staff at their station a few metres from where I sit whether I was too late for scones. I manage to nab the last one of the day – woo hoo, as Glenhaven is not in my neighbourhood. The order arrives fairly promptly and I am guessing I have the mixed berry, pear and cinnamon jam (dark) as it’s definitely not the mango, peach and vanilla (light) that is scribbled up on the blackboard. It’s hard to say, as I can’t taste any cinnamon or pear. The crispy date scone has potential and I am sure if it were earlier in the day, it would be really good, rather than just pretty good. The double thick cream gives it a nice finish and I kick myself for not getting here earlier so I could have a full serve of scones. When I leave I wait at the cash til longer than I should have to as wait staff wander by, fully aware that I am there. It’s not until I get home and scan reviews about the cafe online that I realise it wasn’t my imagination about the slack service, actually, my experience was quite good compared to some of the previous unfortunate diners.

Scones:

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a functional pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Combine shopping for home and garden with morning or afternoon tea.

Location: 609 Old Northern Rd, Glenhaven NSW 2156 Ph: 02 9899 7783

Reviewed in July, 2013


 ‘Café Botanica’

To me, Cafe Botanica looks stark rather than warm and inviting. The scones sitting in the glass cake container on the counter aren’t particularly appealing, but I am determined to give this café a shot. It’s my second attempt at a Devonshire Tea here and I’m not being turned away this time – still an hour from closing time. The café must get large groups, as all tables are big enough for at least six diners, including the picnic bench-like tables in the annex. Sit at the large picture windows that look beyond the gravel car park to lush gardens and Swane’s Nursery. With a light sifting of icing sugar on the top, the scones have been transformed to light and fluffy pillows of loveliness. The strawberry jam is average but is good enough, and the cream is way too light for my taste but at least it’s fresh.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of Twining tea bags served in a standard sized teapot or a few choices of loose-leaf tea in a plunger pot.

Price: $$

Overall: The café is more comfortable than its looks.

Location: Swane’s Nursery, 490 Galston Rd, Dural NSW 2158 Ph: 02 9653 9051

Reviewed June, 2015


‘Cafe Mirabelle of Bonds’

Need a few plants for the garden? Perhaps some new cushions? Once you’re done racking up your credit card, grab a Devonshire Tea at the cafe at the far end of the homeware section. The date scones are okay, but would taste better a bit warmer. The blueberry jam is slightly odd, it doesn’t taste homemade, but it’s an unusual choice to accompany the scones. Impressed that the cream is thick and creamy and far from the common aerated type served at a lot of establishments! Judging by the size of the cafe, the trays of scones crammed into the cake cabinet and the number of reserved tables this particular Sunday, I’d say they do a roaring Sunday trade. Loved the Japanese lime and coconut tea.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of black, fruit, herbal and green loose-leaf teas.

Price: $$

Overall: Good for a break from the shopping.

Location: Flower Power Nursery, 227 Mona Vale Rd, Terrey Hills NSW 2084 Ph: 02 9986 3551flowerpower.com.au/locations/terrey-hills/cafe-mirabelle

Reviewed in August, 2012


‘Café On Three’

Cafe On Three offers mall rats the best of both worlds. Firstly, if you need a break from the fluorescent lights, dine outdoors (or indoors) and breathe fresh air, and secondly, you don’t need to leave the confines of the mall to do so. Located on level 3 in David Jones in Westfields Hornsby, Cafe On Three is dangerously placed on the same floor as the kitchenware and teaware department. I say dangerously, because if you enjoy scones and tea, undoubtedly you might appreciate good quality teapots and pretty china cups and saucers, and everything that goes with them. After scones delicately dusted in icing sugar, served with chilled thickly whipped cream and average strawberry jam, who knows what could happen when you leave the cafe and walk amongst the likes of Wedgewood, Royal Albert, Maxwell & Williams, Cristina Rea, Salt & Pepper – need I go on?

Scones:

Jam:

Cream:

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

Price: $$

Overall: A great escape from the mall time warp.

Location: David Jones, Westfield Hornsby, Level 3, 236 Pacific Hwy, Hornsby NSW 2077

Ph: 02 9472 3700 davidjones.com.au

Reviewed in April, 2016


‘Cottage Point Kiosk’

It’s a glorious summer’s day and there’s no better place to be then on one of Sydney’s beaches or waterways. Whether you arrive by private boat or road, The Cottage Point Kiosk and General store is popular with yachties and Sydneysiders looking for tranquility. Lying deep in the heart of the Ku-Ring- Gai Chase National Park, the Kiosk is perched on the edge of Cowan Creek that runs off the Hawkesbury River and is the perfect place for a chilled lunch or snack. A friend told me about the Devonshire Teas, so I was excited to try them and even more excited when I arrive to see Devonshire Tea signs plastered all over the Kiosk. I miss out on the date scones but the plain scones look homemade and crusty. However, within a few minutes of cooling down, the scones are little more than rock cakes and inedible, the jam is average and the cream too light for me, which is a shame considering the million dollar views.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A few varieties of tea bags served in a small pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: A magical Sydney escape.

Location: 1 Notting Ln, Cottage Point NSW 2084 Ph: 02 9456 3024 cottagepointkiosk.com.au

Reviewed in February, 2014


‘Dragonfly Cafe’

I’ve often driven past Eden Gardens but have never thought to drop in to the cafe. Actually, as I hurried by, caught in the rush of Sydney traffic, it hadn’t passed my mind that there may be a cafe. With plenty of parking, mostly underground, the place feels geared up for masses of people. After I enter the extensive homewares gift shop and the huge cafe, I notice several function rooms with a wedding reception currently taking place. The cafe has lots of seating with the outdoor undercover area overlooking the garden centre. The cafe is open and airy, and if you decide to visit during a heatwave, is not air-conditioned. The Devonshire Tea arrives promptly and looks uncannily like a bread roll. Trying not to judge a book by its cover, I am surprised when I break open the scone it reveals a soft and fluffy centre. The strawberry jam is sickly sweet and the cream is so light that it melts before I can get it onto the scone. A larger pot or a side of hot water would be handy for the tea as nattering and eating is thirsty work.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant oasis for a catch up and shop.

Location: Eden Gardens & Garden Centre, 301-307 Lane Cove Rd, North Ryde NSW 2113

Ph: 02 9491 9950 edengardens.com.au 

Reviewed in January, 2013


‘Geranium Cottage Nursery and Café’

Perhaps I am hungry today – but I have to confess  – these scones make it on to my ‘top pick’ list.  Sitting out in the courtyard rather than on the enclosed deck of the cottage, is the best way to capture a bright and clear autumns day. Although the waitress is run off her feet, the delectable scones arrive fairly promptly. They are piping hot; slightly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside with a distinct creamy texture and flavour. The cream is whipped to perfection – thick and rich, which leaves the typical supermarket jam the weakest link. I could easily devour a second serve as they are ever so light and more-ish. The cafe also has a definite ‘older’ adult feel to it and is extremely popular so make sure you book for meal times. Don’t forget to have a browse through the small plant nursery out the front and there’s also some local jam and Mudgee honey for sale. There’s a 10 per cent price hike on weekends and public holidays, but it’s already factored into the prices on the menu.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Some of the best scones in Sydney!

Location: 828 Old Northern Rd, Middle Dural NSW 2158 Ph: 02 9652 0475  geraniumcottage.com.au

Reviewed in April, 2013


‘Greenshades Café Restaurant’

I can’t believe I had never driven through Galston Gorge in Sydney’s northwest. To be honest, I’d never heard of it until a friend suggested we go to Dural on a scone quest. Driving from or to Hornsby Heights the road winds it’s way through the gorge in a series of switchbacks that has you crawling at 5kph around the bends, and the thick scrubby bush of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park acts as the backdrop to this lovely drive. Once in Galston it’s easy to find Greenshades Cafe Restaurant as it takes up a big corner block and looks like a nursery, but then not. The cafe/restaurant spills out from the indoor area, which is quite cosy, to the verandah and then to a bunch of tables in the garden that reminds me of a popular beer garden with the plastic chairs. The centre piece is a burbling fountain with a big kiddies playground in the corner, which is a bonus for families. My tasting companion’s mother is a fan of this place so when we rip open our first scone we’re disappointed before we’ve even tasted it. Visually it all looks really good, but the scones are leathery and dry and taste more like white bread than scone and are definitely not fresh this particular Thursday. The Beerenberg jam is good, better than most, but there’s not enough in the little jar. The real winner here is the thick King Island cream – what a bonus. It works out to be $13 for the Devonshire Tea, and considering todays quality, it’s far too expensive. Maybe the scones are better on the weekend?

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A variety of black and herbal loose-leaf teas.

Price: $$$

Overall: Relaxed garden setting where you can buy a statue for your garden if the notion arises.

Location: 353 Galston Rd, Galston NSW 2159 Ph: 02 9653 1500

Reviewed in November, 2012


‘Jimni’s Café’

Jimini’s Cafe is just outside the entrance to ALDI at Westfield Shopping Centre in Hornsby. The cafe’s seating spills out into the concourse so it’s easier to watch the shopping world go by. I’m happy to see that a Devonshire Tea is on the menu, however not so impressed when the scones come out soggy, and flat like the life had been sucked out of them. The cream is exceptionally light and the jam is a bit below average in quality. The cafe is literally adjacent to The Tea Centre, a store specialising in quality loose-leaf tea and everything that goes with it, and although Jimini’s has a few of The Tea Centre brews on offer, a few more wouldn’t go astray.

Scones:

Jam:

Cream:

Tea: A small selection of The Tea Centre loose-leaf teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A convenient option.

Location: Westfield Hornsby, 236 Pacific Hwy, Hornsby NSW 2077

Ph: 02 9476 2173 jiminis.com.au

Reviewed in April, 2016


‘Ladybird Café’

It’s hard to believe how many garden centres there are in Sydney, especially when you start taking notice of them. The sneaky Four Seasons Plant Bug Garden Centre in Mt Colah is a small centre, but sells the essentials. You can’t escape the well-stocked gift shop (even I picked up a few gifts here) and the cutely named Ladybird Cafe out the back. It’s a hot day when I visit and temperatures in northwest Sydney are well into the mid 30s. This is important to note, as the café is semi open, with only some fans to make a sweaty situation more comfortable. We made the most of the casual and unhurried atmosphere and strategically positioned ourselves between the fans. The small scones looked like mini bread rolls are brought in from an outside bakery. The jam is an average strawberry and the cream so light that it dissolves quickly in the humidity. My biggest gripe is that there isn’t enough jam and cream for both scones, and although I didn’t ask for any extra, I am sure the friendly staff would be happy to oblige.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A selection of Project T loose-leaf teas served in a plunger pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A cute cafe hidden amongst the plants.

Location: Four Seasons Plant Bug, 525 Pacific Hwy, Mount Colah NSW 2079 Ph: 02 9477 1222 plantbug.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2015


‘Mother Earth Café’

The term ‘Mother Earth’ conjures up thoughts of lentil burgers and carob brownies so when I turn up at Mother Earth Cafe; I find a pleasant cafe and small plant nursery. The yurt type building that houses the cafe is supposedly made out of mud brick and is covered with dirt and grass and a spectacularly placed strip of glass allows a rush of water to constantly flow over the roof dumping its contents in to a pond. Definitely want one of those! It’s Sunday so the outdoor seating area, although extensive, is almost full and I am told that there is a bit of a wait for food. My scones are the last serve available and they come out of the freezer. I should have ditched the mission and moved on then and there but decide to give them a try. The service is friendly but my scones aren’t great, having a slightly unpleasant taste. The jam and cream are very ordinary and the cream light and watery. I must admit the Paddington Tea green tea is lovely.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small variety of Paddington Tea bags served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Lovely outdoor setting but I love the grassy roof and waterfall over the mud brick building.

Location: 1A Annangrove Rd, Kenthurst NSW 2156 Ph: 02 9654 1423

Reviewed in April, 2013


‘Passiontree Velvet’

The newly revamped section of the Macquarie Shopping Centre offers yet more ways to part with your cash. On my way to Passiontree Velvet, I must admit, I do get waylaid by all the pretty, new and shiny things, who wouldn’t? Currently, this is Sydney’s only Passsiontree Velvet, but my second try after a visit to Westfields Carindale, Brisbane, earlier this year. The layout is same, the only difference is the lighting; the Macquarie Centre is moody and dim and feels cosy although it’s an open plan café in the middle of the concourse. I try both the plain and fruit scones, with a hint of microwave. They are also slightly dry, but it is after 3pm. The jam is slightly better than average, but still for $13.50, you would expect a bit more than good quality tea and double thick cream.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: An interesting selection of Harney & Sons loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot.

Price: $$$

Overall: A tea room vibe and the best on offer at the Macquarie Centre.

Location: Macquarie Shopping Centre, Corner Herring and Waterloo Rds, Macquarie Park NSW 2113

Reviewed September, 2015


‘Pie in the Sky’

The Pie in the Sky pie shop in Cowan, on the old windy road to Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River was a petrol station in its former life and has all the tell-tale signs that it’s a favourite with motorbike riders. Maybe it’s the cafe’s convenient location for day-trippers? Perhaps the stunning view? Or is it the carpark that is often brimming with thousands of dollars worth of motorbikes? Then it has to be the extensive menu of hearty pies that the place is famous for, doesn’t it? Whatever it is, they must be doing something right as it’s tucked away for only those in the know to see. I stumble upon it on my way down to Brooklyn in the pouring rain, and needless to say it’s quiet. Amongst the long list of pies, I notice the scones and chuckle as I imagine a burly bloke in leather tucking into a plate. If only my boyfriend could see it, then he might stop the constant referencing to his privates transforming into women’s bits. You get the picture. The whole Devonshire Tea affair is average, with neither the scones nor the jam and cream making any impression with most of the crumbly scones staying untouched. Bravo for the copious amounts of cream and jam, there are no reasons we should be held back with the toppings!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Twinnings tea bags served in a good-sized pot

Price: $$

Overall: A handy rest stop with lots of room to move enroute to the Hawkesbury River.

Location: 1296 Pacific Hwy, Cowan NSW 2081 Ph: 02 9985 7018 pieintheskycowan.com.au

Reviewed February, 2014


‘Piemonte Café Restaurant’

I’ve hit the jackpot and somehow time my Saturday arrival at Piemonte Cafe Restaurant at the Terry Hills Flower Market perfectly. During a moment of calm between brunch and lunch I share the covered verandah area with only empty tables still holding evidence that there was indeed a lot of action earlier on. I can see the attraction for families as a large part of the verandah faces a kiddies play area, and I spy some chooks scratching about in a pen. The middle part of the restaurant looks more formal and is closed off from the noise and weather conditions. I guess you could say it’s the restaurant and the outside is the cafe, as it sure feels that way by the vibe. It’s a great idea as I’ve been to so many garden centre cafes and can’t converse because of a combination of bad acoustics and kiddies playgrounds that are basically in the middle of the dining area. The morning and afternoon tea deal: scones with coffee/tea are obviously popular as there’s a large batch of freshly baked scones on the counter. The scones are impressive, slightly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but I’m just not a fan of the icing sugar sprinkled on top. It makes the whole shebang too sweet especially when the jam is cheap, sweet and syrupy, as is the case in this instance. The cream is really light and offers nothing to the quality or taste of the Devonshire Tea. There also isn’t enough jam and it gets a black mark for being served in a plastic container, as it makes the experience a little cheap and nasty.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A variety of loose-leaf teas served in a standard-sized pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant place for a break after shopping for gifts, flowers and plants.

Location: 287 Mona Vale Rd, Terry Hills NSW 2084 Ph: 02 9486 3677 piemonte.com.au

Reviewed September, 2014


‘Settlers Arms Inn’

The sleepy village of St Albans, tucked away in the beautiful Macdonald Valley, is somewhere between the Hawkesbury River and the Lower Hunter Valley. Surrounded by Yengo National Park, on weekends the village explodes with day-trippers and most descends on the Settlers Arms Inn. Built from convict-hewn sandstones, the Settlers Arms was established in 1836 and became a stopover for Cobb and Co. stagecoaches travelling between Sydney and Newcastle. It’s simple Georgian design and friendly staff makes the Settlers Arms a huge success, not to mention their superior pub food. The village is also close to the convict built Old Great North Road, which originally spanned 264 kilometres, and is open to hikers and cyclists – in case you’re up for an adventure. What the Devonshire Tea lacks in presentation, it makes up for in bucket loads of quality and taste. Creamy and fluffy scones, slightly better than average jam and rich thickly whipped cream – superb! Make a note that scones are not served between 11am and 3pm as the kitchen is too inundated with lunch orders, especially on weekends. A black mark also for the $6.00 pot of tea. I think it’s a bit steep considering it’s just a teabag and hot water. Loose-leaf tea, I can understand, but for a tea bag?

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Choice of a cup or pot of tea. Not much variety, just standard tea bags.

Price: $$

Overall: Simple and friendly, oozing in history.

Location: 1 Wharf St, St Albans NSW 2775 Ph: 02 4568 2111 settlersarms.com.au

Reviewed in October, 2013


‘Tea Monkey’

With subtle lighting, concrete floors and a cavernous location slightly set off the street, Tea Monkey seems almost mysterious. What get’s me is the eye candy. Not of the human kind but of the tea kind – it’s a shopfront for the online tea business. You can sniff your way through a couple of trays of loose-leaf teas while you wait, maybe make a purchase, there are teas, candles, soaps, diffusers and of course teapots for sale. The staff is well rehearsed in all things tea and give good advice if you are looking to purchase or try a special brew. The place sometimes doubles as an informal venue; I see an advert for a gig at 2pm the Saturday I visit. My tea arrives first, and alongside my brewing pot is an egg timer, which I am advised to use so I know when my tea is ready for pouring. My large plain scone (there is date scones as well) is served with double thick cream and strawberry jam that is better than the usual commercial variety. I’ve got to say that the tea is the winner here, but points for trying with the scone, it just doesn’t have the quality as the tea does. Closed on Mondays

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: 45 varieties of loose-leaf teas on offer.

Price: $$

Overall: A contemporary tea house vibe.

Location: 9-11 St Johns Ave, Gordon NSW 2072 Ph: 02 9499 5848 teamonkey.com.au

Reviewed June, 2014


‘The Cook’s Garden’

A visit to Sydney’s leafy suburb of North Turramurra is as refreshing as taking a trip to the country. Pop down to Bobbin Head National Park, breathe in the fresh air and immerse yourself in nature on the edge of one of the Hawkesburys sensational waterways. It’s the perfect secret Sydney spot to revive, and on your way out it’s an easy stop at The Cook’s Garden restaurant/cafe/bar in the quaint North Turramurra suburb. We arrive just as lunch is winding up, which to me is the perfect time for afternoon tea, and we’re hustled towards the bar – not a particularly quaint spot for a family gathering with your 80-year old mother. The dining room looks perfectly fine but the staff want to set up for dinner, and by chance we see the garden out back and invite ourselves to it. The garden is lovely and private and we discover is full of edible plants and herbs when we spy a chef collecting bay leaves. I think it’s easy to slip through the cracks here if you arrive between main meals, so don’t expect to be waited on, order at the bar (even if you are in the garden), which is out of sight. All that is forgotten when the scones arrive. My cup and teapot could use a polish but the scones are fresh and perfectly baked: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with no nasty aftertaste. The Drunken Sailor mixed berry jam is a hit with the group who aren’t fans of the sickly sweet cheaper varieties and the double thick cream is a nice finish.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection (six) of teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: It feels a long way from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Location: 272 Bobbin Head Rd, North Turramurra NSW 2074 Ph: 02 9144 5086

 

Reviewed in December, 2013


‘The Coonanbarra Café’

Oh Wahroonga! I’m impressed. You look so pretty on this perfect late spring day with all your leafy streets, green parks and colourful blossoms. It really does feel a world away from Sydney even though the suburb’s heartbeat is spitting distance from the hectic Pacific Highway. Located opposite Wahroonga Park, The Coonanbarra Cafe is nestled in a restored historic building from the late 1800s with diners sprawled out on the footpath to make the most of the warm weather. It feels slightly out of this world and I have to keep on reminding myself where I am. The service is chirpy and efficient but overall the quality of the Devonshire Tea spread is pretty average. My friend isn’t impressed with the scones saying they are too doughy, and to me they are on the dry side. The jam is a standard variety and the cream is sweet, airy and synthetic – straight out of an aerosol can. What a shame as the location is just so lovely!

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

Tea: A combo of loose-leaf and tea bag teas served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A beautiful shady spot opposite a pretty park.

Location: 64 Coonanbarra Rd, Wahroonga NSW 2076 Ph: 02 9489 0980 coonanbarracafe.com.au

Reviewed in November, 2014


‘The House of Herbs and Roses’

If you see the Devonshire Tea sign on the side of the road, stop, as you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised from what lies behind the front door. After a browse in the well-priced homeware store, make your way to the dining area out the back and take your time to peruse the extensive and quirky tea menu. I try the ‘Once Upon a Time’ tea – an eclectic combination of mint, vanilla and rooibos tea with choc pieces, and my companion the ‘Congo Bongo’ – mango and coconut black tea. The quirky tea menu aside, the whole shebang is sensational! A proper teacup and saucer, makes all the difference, as does the fresh flowers on the table. The jam is better than your average Cottee’s variety and the Chantilly cream is just about right, however a bigger serving of both would be better. The stars of the show of course are the scones – and so they should be! They are light, creamy and fluffy – just absolutely divine.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A fabulous and unusual selection of loose-leaf teas served in a small pot will hot water top ups available.

Price: $$

Overall: Simply sensational! Don’t judge the front of the property for what’s out the back!

Location:  745 Old Northern Rd, Dural NSW 2158 Ph: 02 9651 1027

Reviewed in April, 2013


‘The Loft Café’

I’m not a fan of shopping malls, but today’s inclement weather has driven me indoors. Spying a cafe not too far from but on the same floor as the cinema, I decide to take my chances with the fruit and plain scones I see sitting on top of the counter. I order one fruit scone as they are fairly big and it arrives sliced open like a bread roll. I ask for a second portion of jam, which the waitress happily dispenses, but wonder why I am even bothering with the calories, as it’s tasteless and dry, and the few random sultanas imbedded in the dry bread like texture only give it a hint of flavour. The light and airy cream doesn’t help either.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $

Overall: Steer clear and pop in to T2 Teahouse down the hall instead.

Location: Macquarie Centre, Level 4, Shop 427, 422/1 Waterloo Rd, Macquarie Park NSW 2113 Ph: 02 9870 7900

Reviewed in April, 2013


‘The Schoolmaster’s House’

Driving through the ‘Macquarie Towns’ of the Hawkesbury River region is a history lesson of the early colonial years. Settled in the early 1800s by free settlers, there’s not a lot left that points to the early settlement apart from a few buildings in the Australia Pioneer Village in Wilberforce. Rose Cottage, the oldest timber slab cottage in Australia, is still standing on its original site and is surrounded by the original houses relocated from other towns. Head further along the river to find the fascinating Ebenezer Church, cemetery and schoolhouse, and what’s left of an ancient gum tree, which was the former place of worship for the locals before the church was built. The Church was built in 1803 and is the oldest operating church in Australia. It’s tiny, and the British and Australian flags behind the altar remind me where we, as a nation, began. The adjacent schoolmaster’s residence (circa 1810) was built for very small people who aren’t afraid of steep ladder-like stairs and has some interesting tidbits such as furniture and photos from yesteryear, with records of the early settlers. This is also where you order a very simple but delicious Devonshire Tea that’s taken at one of the outdoor tables in the paved garden. The scones are made just like nanna’s, using a simple but tried and tested recipe producing light and fluffy scones. The cream is whipped thick and the jam is nothing flash but definitely not the sickly sweet synthetic kind. Wander the pretty grounds down to the shoreline of the Hawkesbury River and the cemetery that dates back to 1812.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A standard black tea (tea bag) served in a small pot. Ask, and the volunteer will pull out a box containing a variety of tea bags, that by the sounds of things, rarely gets pulled out. My green tea is served in a small cup.

Price: $

Overall: A step back to yesteryear.

Location: Ebenezer Church, 95 Coromandel Rd, Ebenezer NSW 2756 Ph: 02 4579 9235 ebenezerchurch.org

Reviewed June, 2015


‘The Station’

Previously known as Cafe Laurella, the owners have revamped this popular bright corner cafe and relaunched it as The Station. The floor-to-ceiling windows make the small space bright and airy and really allow you to check out all the mouth-watering sweets in the cabinet. I ask the barista how he copes working all day with a fresh tray of divine looking cinnamon scrolls in arms reach. The scones are by far not the most appetising sweets in the house, but we are The Devonshire Tea Guide after all not the Lemon Meringue Patrol (you get my drift). The lovely teacup and saucer is a bonus but really should be a given in cafes in 2014. Drinking tea in a thick-rimmed coffee cup is like drinking an expensive red wine out of a plastic cup – it just doesn’t work. The scone looks a bit too much like a bread roll but surprisingly tastes okay, but has no other redeeming qualities. The jam is average and a bit syrupy and although the cream is fresh, it’s been aerated not whipped, and far too light for me.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream:

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

Price: $$

Overall: The wicked desserts, and those cinnamon scrolls will get you in!

Location: 23 Coonanbarra Rd, Wahroonga NSW 2076 Ph: 02 9487 7233 thestationwahroonga.com.au

Reviewed in November, 2014


‘Wellspring Expresso’

Sometimes Wellspring Expresso can be mistaken for a bike shop going by the numbers of bikes racked up in front and the large groups of Lycra clad folk sipping coffees. The group I see are even sponsored by the cafe so they fit right in with jerseys that match the signage. I first noticed the cafe on a drive down to Berowra Waters and make a special trip this time, taking a diversion from the freeway to the original Pacific Highway. I call before I arrive, just to make sure the blackboard sign advertising scones last time wasn’t a one-off. “They’re in the oven,” I’m told. Although the scones are ‘just out of the oven’ they don’t particulary taste like it, and should taste better than what they do, coming in just above average. The jam and cream are sub standard, the jam being very sweet and lacking any inkling of fruit and the cream too light and airy. Perhaps if the jam and cream were of better quality the scones may have a better chance at tasting better.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: Choose from either a cup or pot of loose-leaf tea.

Price: $$

Overall: Not a bad stop if you’re taking the back road to Brooklyn.

Location: 4 Berowra Waters Rd, Berowra NSW 2081 Ph: 02 9456 5006

Reviewed February, 2014 


‘Wildpear Café’

The place is pumping; I now know what ladies who don’t work get up to on weekday afternoons. Wildpear Cafe is another of the lovely restaurants/garden centres to dine at in the Dural area. The meals that are passing by look exceptional, especially the desserts, and its obvious the place is big on presentation. My companion and I gasp when the Devonshire Tea arrives as it looks impressive: fruity homestyle jam, thick cream and big home-baked scones that are just screaming to be torn apart. Our unanimous vote is that the scones look better than what they taste as they are a bit on the bland side, if that makes sense? It doesn’t mean you should give it a miss; on the contrary, what’s wrong with a little blandness when all the other boxes are ticked?

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

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

Price: $$

Overall: Lovely deck overlooking the nursery.

Location: 658 Old Northern Rd, Dural NSW 2158 Ph: 02 9651 6600

Reviewed in November, 2012