Painted Horse Cafe

DT@Painted Horse Cafe - Sofala

Sofala claims to be Australia’s oldest surviving gold town. There’s hasn’t been any gold mining here for more than 70 years, but the town still retains an authenticity that is missing from many gentrified ex-mining villages in Australia. Heritage buildings abound, (although some properties are in need of a spruce up), and are clustered along the few streets that make up the town. Although located in a purpose-built building, the Painted Horse Cafe’s rustic exterior and courtyard decorated with rusting implements and Ned Kelly cut out sits well within its surrounds. Most of the dining is outside but undercover, with groups well catered for. More intimate sized dining tables are located indoors. The tray of scones on the counter scream country fresh – and they are – fresh. There’s a hint of vanilla lurking in the fluffy freshness and a crispy exterior rounds out this perfect scone. The house made orange and apricot jam is a delight and the only problem, there’s not enough for four scone halves. However, there’s no issue with asking for a jam refill and am given a generous portion. Shame the fresh cream hasn’t had enough whipping. The jam is so good that I take home a jar. Open Thursday to Sunday.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3

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

Price: $$$

Overall: Although purpose-built, the heritage vibe fits well with the town.

Location: 27 Denison St, Sofala NSW 2795 Ph: 02 6337 7092 facebook.com

Reviewed July 2018

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Hartley Fresh

DT@HArtley Fresh-Hartley#

If you are heading east from Lithgow to the Blue Mountains, it’s easy to bypass Hartley Fresh for the vast choice of cafes in the Blue Mountains. Set back from the rumbling Great Western Highway, the place formerly traded as Full Throttle Diner and attracted truckies who used the large car park out the front to park their rigs. Truckies can still pull up, but on a tarred surface, and the cafe now is part fruit and vegetable shop. It’s more breakfast time when I arrive, but luckily I’m not too early for scones as they are available all day. The slightly crumbly and buttery scones taste better than how they look. They are teamed up with a sufficient amount of slightly sweet and fairly thick cream but the unremarkable sweet strawberry jam doesn’t do them any justice. Stock up on fresh produce before you head off.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A basic choice of Twinnings tea bags served in a tiny teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A one-stop shop for a snack and a fruit and veg shop.

Location: 2430 Great Western Hwy, Hartley NSW 2790 Ph: 0427 130 900

Reviewed July 2018

Jamaica Blue

DT@Jamaica Blue - Warringah Mall

Even though the last revamp and extension was several years ago, I still can’t get my head around navigating Westfield Warringah Mall. I’m putting it down to infrequent shopping trips or perhaps I’m just too lazy to read the directory. Although not a ‘Mall Rat’, Westfield Warringah Mall is my preferred; full of natural light, spaces open to the skies and with lots of areas (some now with oversized cushions) to loll around in. Jamaica Blue (I didn’t even know it was this franchise until I ordered and paid) indiscreetly occupies central floor space under a glass ceiling. Light, bright and dare I say inviting, the cafe is a convenient option if it’s a scone you are after. Said scone is more bread roll than traditional scone, but in saying that, it doesn’t scrub up too badly. The jam is a sweet syrupy concoction and puts quality jam to shame. Although the cream is fresh, it’s light and no doubt from a cream canister and better suited to ice chocolates. Try not to get too lost in the labyrinthine shopping mall!

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic selection of Elmstock loose-leaf teas served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A coffee shop franchise that doesn’t feel like a cardboard cut out.

Location: Westfield Warringah Mall, 
Ph: 02 9939 3281 jamaicablue.com.au

Reviewed June 2018

V & A Cafe

DT@V&A Cafe-Mt Victoria

It’s my second attempt in the same weekend to try the scones at the V&A Cafe. The problem is, they just keep running out! To be fair, the Mount Victoria Train Weekend is in full swing and it’s the first time that the newly revived Victoria & Albert Guesthouse has probably had to deal with this many folks traipsing around the usually quiet village. Built in 1914, the guesthouse reopened in February 2018 after much-needed TLC and a fresh lick of paint. The place is far enough from the rumbling Great Western Highway for a decent nights’ sleep and only a two-minute walk from the train station. As you would expect from a guesthouse in this genre, it’s cavernous. If all dining areas are open and available (like on the Train Weekend), it’s an adventure just to find a dining room to suit your taste. We stick with a sunny nook in the cosy front room near the coffee machine so we can people watch (Train Weekend, remember). My two scones arrive promptly and quite a while before my pot of tea. I find this slightly annoying, as I always prefer my liquid refreshment either just before or with my food. The fresh scones are, as you would expect – fresh – baked this morning. The two jam sachets are disappointing, and I sought out a waiter for some more. Instead of sachets, I am brought a dish of standard cafe jam, which would have been a far better initial choice. The cream, although fresh, is on the lightly whipped side. With so much effort put into the aesthetics of the guesthouse, a dish of better quality jam and thicker cream with the scones may attract more scone loving travellers. Closed Wednesday and Thursdays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapothalf to teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A basic choice of ‘handcrafted’ loose-leaf tea served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: Love some heritage with your scones? This is the place!

Location: 19 Station St, Mount Victoria NSW 2786 Ph: 02 4787 1348 vaguesthouse.com

Reviewed May 2018

Kusuka Cafe

DT@Kusuka Cafe-Sydney City#

Hectic Chinatown slowly peters out the further you go down Sussex Street towards the bridge. As Chinese eateries give way to a more varied cuisine, Kusuka Cafe pops up. A bright corner cafe, the all around floor to ceiling windows affords some worthy people watching on a Friday and Saturday evening. With a definite Asian influence, the menu is varied and my neighbour’s drinks are decked out with fairy floss and all sorts of sugary things. It’s an odd place to serve scones, but there they are alongside a few other slices of cake. I’m not impressed that the scone arrives lightly toasted rather than lightly warmed. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a scone at all! Although the presentation is impressive – I’ve not seen cream served in a glass like this before, nor the jam in a flip top jar. What’s not impressive is the quality. The jam is sickly sweet, the cheap kind, and the cream is light and airy and probably from a can. The best thing about the spread is the tea. My rose white tea is top-notch and brewed perfectly. Closed Thursday, Friday and Sundays.

Scones: teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A handful of good quality loose-leaf teas with the addition of three more interesting blends served in a good-sized teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: A mellow alternative in hectic Chinatown.

Location: Unit 12/339 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 8033 0532

Reviewed June 2018

True to the Bean

DT@TRue to the Bean-Katoomba#2

True to the Bean is one of many cafes lining Katoomba Street. Cosy and cute with brightly painted walls decked out in art and quirky pieces, the small cafe can get a bit crowded especially when chilly. Because, who wants to sit outside during a Katoomba winter? The sign says ‘expresso and waffle bar’, but the menu covers more than that so don’t be deterred if you aren’t after either. The menu offers a few varieties of scones, including berry and chocolate. When ordering I’m not offered a choice of scone, and to be honest, I didn’t even look at the menu on the way in, going off the couple of scones I see in the cake cabinet. Ordering a single serve, my scone is hard on the outside but luckily softer on the inside. I’m not sure why it’s so yellow inside – maybe it’s a pumpkin scone, although it doesn’t taste like it. The standard cafe jam and super light cream are on the lean side. If you are a fan of loading up your scone then you may need to put your hand up for more.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

Tea: A range of loose-leaf Blue Mountain Tea served in a Japanese iron teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: The place can be a bit tight when full.

Location: 123 Katoomba St, Katoomba NSW 2780 Ph: 02 4782 6926 facebook.com/truetothebean/

Reviewed May 2018

Wild Dragonfly Cafe

DT@Wild Dragonfly Cafe-Mt Annan#

Mt Annan Flower Power delivers the same vast range of garden centre goodies as its sister outlets including an onsite cafe. The Wild Dragonfly Cafe sounds exotic, but there’s nothing exotic about a cafe that services a popular kiddies playground. The morning I visit there’s a birthday party going on, but fortunately they are holed up in a shady corner filled with tables. The rest of the cafe is more subdued and looks over rows of greenery for sale and towards the gift shop. I don’t see any scones but they are definitely on the menu. Order however many you like as there is no set ‘Devonshire Tea’. My scone arrives pre-sliced and although it tastes fresh, the heating process has made the scone gluggy and devoid of its former self. The condiments aren’t particularly impressive with average strawberry jam served alongside a dish of super light cream that is so light that it dissolves once it hits my warm scone.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapothalf

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

Price: $$

Overall: A buzzing cafe that’s popular with families.

Location: Flower Power Garden Centre, 320 Narellan Rd, Mount Annan NSW 2567
Ph: 02 4647 3788 flowerpower.com.au

Reviewed May 2018