East Coast

‘Just Desserts Cafe’


It feels like everyone travelling up through Swansea to Freycinet National Park or back the other way, visits Kate’s Berry Farm. After we arrive, a convoy of oversized fancy campervans tries to manoeuver into limited parking spots, and more visitors than available tables descend on the free jam tasting samples and Kate’s specialties. Although the berry farm isn’t on the highway, the visitors keep arriving. Located up a quiet country lane, high enough to allow sweeping views over rows of ripening berries, and down towards Great Oyster Bay and the magnificent Freycinet Peninsula beyond. The aptly named Just Desserts Cafe is just that, predominantly for those with a sweet tooth, although there are a few savoury items such as pot pies available. The scones are near perfect. They have a crispy outer shell and are soft and buttery within, tasting as though this batch is just out of the oven. My only gripe is they taste a tad salty – but that’s just me. I’m at a loss as to which jam to choose, as every berry is represented, and then some. I go with the blackcurrant, which is everything you could hope for in a jam; rich, tart, thick and fruity, and served with ample cream that’s whipped thick. Quality doesn’t come cheap; this spread is on the expensive side at $17.50 including the pot of tea.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A good selection of loose-leaf tea served in a small teapot.

Price: $$$

Overall: Touristy, busy and expensive – but expect good quality and a killer view.

Location: 12 Addison St, Swansea TAS 7190 Ph: 03 6257 8428 katesberryfarm.com

Reviewed in December, 2016

‘Lichen Restaurant & Cafe’

DT@Lichen Restaurant and Cafe - Binalong Bay#.jpg

The view from the deck of Lichen Restaurant & Cafe is mesmerising, especially in glorious weather. The powder white sand beaches and sapphire seas shimmer as the scallop shaped coves extend north to the heart of the Bay of Fires. Some say Binalong Bay is the southern end of The Bay of Fires, but it depends on what you read or whom you talk to – I can’t get a straight answer. Whatever tag you want to give it, the northeastern coastal area of Tasmania is paradise, albeit a cooler one. Last year the cafe changed owners, and they have decided to keep the scone container filled. The light serving of just one creamy fresh scone is ideal if you are after an in-between snack. Usually I’m a massive fan of homemade jam, but this raspberry jam is super sweet and too much like commercial varieties. Call me old-fashioned but I like my cream plain: unsweetened and to taste like cream. Although we are told that this is very special cream, I’m not a fan. It’s super sweet and more like soft and creamy icing sugar. At 10am, this amount of sweetness is way too much for even this sugar addict, plus it’s not the kind of cream I like on my scones.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A good enough selection of loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: It’s the only cafe in town, and boy, what a view!

Location: Main Rd, Binalong Bay TAS 7216 Ph: 03 6376 8086 lichenrestaurant.com

Reviewed March, 2018

‘Purple Possum Wholefoods & Cafe’

DT@The Purple Possum Cafe & Wholefoods#2

It’s on the unusual side to tuck into scones, jam and cream while surrounded by what is essentially a health food shop. At Purple Possum Wholefoods & Cafe you can have your scones and pick up some quinoa or coconut sugar from the self-service plastic bins on your way out. If you’re like my bloke and is put off by ‘whole food’ and ‘cafe’ used in the same sentence, then don’t be, this is no vegan hippie hangout, but rather a cafe serving simple healthy food. The garden grows many of the herbs and vegetables used in the cooking, and there’s also a mini gallery indoors amongst the buckets of psyllium husks and raw cacao. Choose from date or ‘Devon’ scones. I go with the plain ‘Devon’ scones, which are smooth and creamy and paired well with the fruit rich and tart raspberry jam. The cream is on the light side: fresh but whipped and dispensed from a cream canister. I like the personalised Purple Possum trivet for the teapot, it’s cute!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A handful of black and herbal loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A quirky cafe-come-health-food-store in a sleepy village.

Location: 5 Story St, St Marys TAS 7215 Ph: 03 6372 2655 purplepossum.com.au

Reviewed March, 2018

‘Saltshaker Restaurant’

DT@Saltshaker Restaurant-Swansea#2

There are a pair of chooks here, two kiwis there, some seals and just an ordinary set of blue and white on my own table. Named Saltshaker Restaurant for a reason, as each table showcases its own unique set of salt and pepper shakers. Cool, huh? If that doesn’t do it for you then the spectacular views across Great Oyster Bay to Freycinet National Park will. Enclosed in glass, you aren’t penalised for sitting indoors when the weather turns chilly. This is certainly the place for prime viewing of the unmistakable jagged peaks of the Freycinet Peninsula beyond. The cake stand containing the scones is steaming. Is that a good sign? I’m not sure. Although the scones are fresh, the tops are quite dry and resemble more day old scones than steaming fresh ones from the oven. Saying that, they are still pretty good; soft and fluffy. The house made raspberry jam is on the runny side and such a treat, but the fresh aerated cream from a cream-whipping canister is super light.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic range of Tea Drop tea bags served in a tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: If the gorgeous views of the Freycinet Peninsula don’t get you there, the salt and pepper shakers will.

Location: 11A Franklin St, Swansea TAS 7190 Ph: 03 6257 8488 saltshakerrestaurant.com.au

Reviewed in May, 2017

‘The Bank Tea House’

DT@The Bank Tea House#2The streets of St Marys at the top of the pass of the same name are so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. I’ve been through the town a couple of times, both in summer and in autumn, and both times have been the same – very quiet. Open the door to The Bank Tea House, and it’s a different story. The grill is sizzling and the slow combustion stove is keeping the place toasty. While I wait I poke around the Man Cave (yes it is the name of the room), which houses a range of second hand goods and collectibles for sale. Although cosy inside, the sun is shining and the Tea House is blessed with a sunny courtyard and sunny nooks and crannies where tables and chairs have been strategically set up out on the footpath. The single scone is light and fluffy with just enough crispness on the outside to give it a lovely texture. Unfortunately the accompaniments aren’t up to par; the strawberry jam is average and the cream is a sweet sickly concoction straight from a can. Brownie points for the proper teacup and saucer!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3

Tea: A vast range of tea bags for all tastes, served in an adequate sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Feels like the hub of the village.

Location: 26 Main St, St Marys TAS 7215 Ph: 03 6372 2578 amanscave.com.au

Reviewed in May, 2017

‘The Lifebouy Cafe & Quail Street Emporium’


Sleepy St Helens on the north-east coast of Tassie is as pretty as a picture. An expansive bay that takes in a few smaller hamlets, is serviced by a town that closed up by 6pm, and where eating the seafood is a must. The place is more happening during the day, and The Lifebouy Cafe & Quail Street Emporium feels like central city. It’s hard to know where the cafe starts and finishes; the tables are so well disguised poised amongst the collectables, antiques, and nautical stuff for salty sea dogs. On a rainy day it’s the place to be as travellers empty out of campervans and set up around tables to play cards. I go for a single scone, and have a choice of plain or date, and there is cheese and chives for savoury tastes. I try the plain, which is light and fluffy, and even though it’s microwaved until steaming, it’s still better than average. The condiments don’t fare too well, as the raspberry jam is very average and the superlight cream dissolves before it gets anywhere near the scone. Nonetheless, the place is an interesting diversion, especially if you are into selective preloved stuff. Closed Sundays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: Three choices of loose-leaf tea, and herbal tea bags served in a small tea pot.

Price: $$

Overall: Quirky eatery where you can admire collectables while you eat.

Location: 29 Quail St, St Helens TAS 7216 Ph: 0439 761 371

Reviewed in December, 2016

‘The Pondering Frog’


It’s still early when we arrive at The Pondering Frog so the visitors heading to Freycinat National Park haven’t yet arrived for their pancakes, ice cream and scones. Not really anywhere near Bicheno town, it’s about five to minutes out of town if heading south, and  just south of the turn off to the world-famous Wineglass Bay. With a carpark big enough to park a few semi trailers, The Pondering Frog cafe is all about being outdoors. The outdoor seating has semi permanent roll down (or up) walls, and heaters and blankets for cool weather. Inside the building where food orders are taken, are shelves adorned with frog figurines striking all sorts of poses, while other shelves are stocked with jars of jams. The scone is bigger than usual and makes up for a two-scone Devonshire Tea. It’s melt-in-your-mouth fluffy and is paired well with the rich and tart raspberry jam. For those not a fan of raspberry jam there’s strawberry jam on offer as well. The cream is fresh but very light. I love the little chocolate frog, such a lovely addition and only reinforces the fact that it’s all about the frog.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A large range of Dilmah tea (tea bags), served in a small pot.

Price: $$

Overall: A welcoming roadside cafe selling lots of jams and frog figurines.

Location: 16494 Tasman Hwy, Bicheno TAS 7215  Ph: 0412 631 299 ponderingfrog.com.au

Reviewed in December, 2016