Cicchetti Wine Bar

DT@Cicchettis Bar Restaurant-QVB Sydney

It’s a bit weird eating a Devonshire Tea at a wine bar when there is a fabulous tea room one level up. That’s the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), full of interesting possibilities. The higher you go towards the QVB’s ornate ceiling, the more the busyness of the city dissipates. Cicchetti Wine Bar attracts those wanting wine with lunch. You might say it has a split personality; lunch and afternoon tea haven by day, then turns into a chilled hangout for a wine or two from Thursday to Saturday evenings. They do plug High Teas, but it is possible to just get a Devonshire Tea – so don’t be pressured into or put off by thinking you have to have the whole shebang. The fresh creamy scones hit the spot, and I think that perhaps it’s okay to eat scones in a wine bar after all! The blueberry compote is fruit rich with only a hint of sweetness, and the slightly sweet and thickly whipped cream is the perfect accompaniment. Great effort with the pretty tea ware and the iron tea pot that is one size up from the usual teeny tiny one used in some cafes.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A slightly better than basic range of loose-leaf teas served in a decent sized Japanese iron teapot.

Price: $$$$

Overall: It’s a lovely spread, but for the price, it’s not quite the quality or the ambience of some other tea rooms in the QVB.

Location: QVB, Level 2, 455 George St, Sydney NSW 2000 Ph: 02 8084 5470 cicchettiwinebar.com.au

Reviewed October 2018

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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

The Vines Cafe

DT@The Vines Cafe-Flower Power Terry Hills

I do love tagging on a cafe visit after picking up a plant or two at a Flower Power Garden Centre. The most recent reincarnation of this cafe space at Flower Power Terrey Hills, The Vines Cafe, still serves scones to hungry shoppers. The layout of the cafe is little changed, with the kiddies playground at one end of the cafe, and a section around a corner that is far enough away kiddie activity so it’s possible to still have a conversation. Choose from plain or date scones, which are served with thick whipped cream, but unfortunately cheap jam. The scones are buttery and slightly crispy on the outside and are delicious, and it’s a shame that the jam is lousy.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A small variety of tea drop silk tea bags.

Price: $$

Overall: A pleasant place to rest while garden shopping.

Location: Flower Power Garden Centre, 277 Mona Vale Rd, Terrey Hills NSW 2084
Ph: 02 8401 7555 flowerpower.com.au

Reviewed October 2018

Heritage Gardens Cafe

DT@The Heritage Gardens Cafe-Ashtonfield#3

The Heritage Gardens Nursery looks like any other garden centre from the carpark. The gift shop is part garden and homeware shop, and is the point of entry and exit. The grounds are quite lovely, with lush lawns and the nursery itself in its own section. You have to look hard for the Heritage Gardens Cafe as it’s nicely hidden in the garden centre. Walk past rows of shrubs, herbs, flowers and trees, and through those lush lawns before entering the cafe. The cafe is shaded by foliage, which is ideal on summer days. There’s indoor and outdoor dining in the main building, plus umbrella shaded tables in the courtyard. The two large lemon scented scones are fresh and have a creamy texture. They are served cool rather than warm, but that’s okay as it’s hot when I visit. The mixed berry jam is housemade and pairs well with the rich double thick cream. The cafe closes at 3.30pm, so don’t linger too long over the azaleas.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3

Tea: A handful of T2 loose-leaf teas served in a teapot.

Price: $$

Overall: It doesn’t feel like you are in a cafe in a garden centre.

Location: Heritage Gardens Nursery, 9 Four Mile Creek Rd, Ashtonfield NSW 2323
Ph: 02 4966 5233 heritagegardens.com.au

Reviewed February 2019

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

H2O Cafe Restaurant

DT@H2O Cafe - Narabeen#2

Without a doubt, H2O Cafe Restaurant‘s shore side location on Narrabeen Lakes must be the envy of the town. That is, to all the unfortunate enough not to have stunning lake views and a pole position for people watching. Perched on the edge of the walking track that circumnavigates the lake, the cafe spills out onto the lawn, keeping all eyes from buzzing Pittwater Road. Indoors, the space exudes a beachyvibe with great views of the lake. For fresh air and sunshine, grab a table under one of the umbrellas in summer or soak up the sun in the cooler months. The scones are the highlight of this spread. Actually if not for the scone’s creamy freshness, I’d say, “walk on by”. These chunky scones deserve quality accompaniments rather than the ordinary sweet strawberry jam and the super light cream it’s served with. To be fair, the cream is fresh, but is dispensed from a cream canister – hence the lightness.

Scones: teapot3teapot3teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Jam: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

Cream: teapot3teapot3teapothalf

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

Price: $$$

Overall: Great location, but overpriced.

Location: 3/1431 Pittwater Rd, Narrabeen NSW 2101 Ph: 02 9913 1360 h2ocafe.com.au

Reviewed October 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