Monday, October 15, 2012

Devonshire Tea Crawl, Blue Mountains

Rather than have a long weekend in the mountains that produced one post about one restaurant, I thought I'd struck brilliance when deciding to check out the Devonshire teas at a bunch of places. I realised, one day into my tea crawl, that my plan may not have been as brilliant as I first thought, as a) I don't drink tea, and b) I'm lactose intolerant. However, I soldiered on (purely for your benefit, lovely people!) and bring you my musings on four of the Blue Mountains Devonshire tea options. I do realise there are others that I missed, but perhaps there will be a tea crawl #2 at another time (once I scrape together the cash for a $19.50 Devonshire tea at Lillianfels).

Having so many scones in quick succession has opened my eyes to the range of scones out there. I now know that I have a definite preference for scones that are near the 'doughy' end of the spectrum, rather than the super airy/flaky end of the spectrum, but that a good jam/cream combo make a scone fabulous, regardless of my preference.

Stop #1: Megalong Valley Tearooms, Megalong Valley
Our first stop was a favourite of mine from childhood. I have fond memories of climbing over the old railway carriage on the other side of the road to the tearooms while my parents were lingering over their tea. On this visit, however, I was the one lingering over my 'tea', as the quiet surroundings and relaxed atmosphere wove their magic on a city stress-ball. The setup of the tearooms has changed since I was last there (decades ago). This time the counter was set up facing onto the verandah, with chairs and tables outside as well, overlooking the neighbouring paddocks. We ordered and paid at the counter (ringing the bell when needed), before heading out to a quiet corner away from the ever-watchful birds.

Scone - 8/10 Fluffy, flaky and three for $9
Jam/Cream - 10/10 Double cream - Hello!
Proportion of jam/cream to scone - 12/10. I could have drowned my scones in deliciousness had I desired!

We also had lunch at the tearooms, and I recommend the pies. Best flaky pastry I've seen in awhile.

Stop #2: Paragon Cafe, Katoomba
Onto Katoomba to another childhood favourite, the Paragon. The Paragon wasn't on my 'to try' list, as I'd heard it had gone downhill in recent years, but I was glad to discover that a relatively new owner is doing her best to return the cafe to its glory days. The place was brimming with people when we were there, and the friendly staff made accommodations to squeeze us in to one of the booths.

Scone - 7/10. Even though I'm a 'doughy' fan, this was slightly too doughy for me but at $6.90 for two, was definitely the cheapest scones we came across.
Jam/Cream - 8/10
Proportion of jam/cream to scone - 9/10. Almost spot on.

Stop #3: Conservation Hut, Wentworth Falls

Boy and I managed to drag our post-bushwalk, stinky selves to the hut and were excited to find outdoor seating on the verandah with a view (why did we bother with the bushwalk?!). After a short wait for the crossover from breakfast service to morning tea we were able to feast our eyes on these enormous scones! Perfect for putting on all the recently worked-off calories, these were a delight.

Scone - 10/10. My perfect scone. $13.50 for two, including a tea or coffee.
Jam/Cream - 8.5/10. Yes, those are whole strawberries in the jam! but sadly only single cream.
Proportion of jam/cream to scone - 7/10. For those enormous scones, more topping was definitely needed.

Rhododendron Gardens, Blackheath
The gardens were a left-field entrant in my scone crawl, as Devonshire tea is only available here on the garden's open days when the rhododendrons are in bloom each year. This year the open days are from now until the 5th November, with entry being by a gold coin donation.

While our visit was a little early for the best of the rhododendrons, we enjoyed exploring the gardens and chatting to the volunteers who run the place. The open days are a way for them to raise funds for the upkeep.  As we sat on the hut's verandah eating our scones and drinking from our juice boxes we felt like we'd slipped back in time, and again, felt the stresses of city-living disappear.

Scone - 7/10. $6.50 for one, $7.50 for two.
Jam/Cream - 7/10
Proportion of jam/cream to scone - 10/10. Scones came out with toppings already on, and the ladies in the kitchen knew their stuff, with the combination they delivered being spot on.

Megalong Valley Tearooms, Megalong Valley

Conservation Hut, Wentworth Falls
Conservation Hut on Urbanspoon

Paragon Cafe
65 Katoomba Street, Katoomba
Paragon Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Rhododendron Gardens, Blackheath


Christine @ Cooking Crusade said...

I've only been to Megalong Valley Tearooms once but loved it..definitely great scones there and love their amazing pies. Great for a day trip from Sydney!

chocolatesuze said...

omg i totally want to do a road trip and go on a scone crawl!! LOVE scones!

Hotly Spiced said...

That's a lot of scones for someone who's lactose intolerant! I prefer mine slightly doughy to dry too. I don't drink tea either. I do love to go to the Blue Mountains and enjoy enjoying things like Devonshire teas because I just don't seem to have time for these sorts of treats in Sydney xx

Faith Yap said...

I'm drooling on my computer!!! Let me know if you'd like more company for crawl no. 2 =)

Amy @ Melbourne Food Snob said...

Yum! We were planning on using our days in the Blue Mountains to take a break from all the eating we'll be doing on our Sydney trip, but I think I can change that...