Dolce & Salato, Fremantle

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My south of the river bestie Lauren, loves D & S. Unlike me, she is super fit and slim and can blithely ignore a counter full of tempting cakes and delicacies. So when she suggests meeting there for coffee, I am instantly mesmerised by the cannoli, the profiteroles, the tartlets and rum-soaked babas, while her focus is on the healthy vego salad rolls on display. She assures me she regularly drops in for a container of their in-house gelato, but I’m somewhat skeptical that in her house of ever-ravenous teens, she actually eats any of it.

For the moment I settle on a large arancini filled with veggies and mozzarella, and enjoy this dish served warm, while Lauren chows down on her healthy roll – it does look pretty damn good with that generous slab of silky avo wedged inside.  There’s also a range of pizza slices that smell and look tempting, but as it’s only 10am I doubt my stomach would readily accept such an offering.

Lauren assures me that the coffees here are always good, and my latte certainly is hot,  robust and satisfying to the last drop.

There is a small range of savoury food here, but the focus is on the “Dolce” part of the name. The cakes and pastries look insanely good, and you can take home a tray of 12 little lovelies for only $18.  It would be seriously greedy of me to buy 12, so I settle on a few cannoli and profiteroles to share with AB later.

D & S also does a range of large cheesecakes and slices fit for a small crowd, and I was pretty excited by the look of their baked ricotta cheesecake. I’ve eaten various versions of this (and I’ve even made one), and I’ve never tried one I didn’t love. However, there’s no small crowd to feed so I content myself with my little bag of goodies, which later prove to be as good as they look.

D & S is a no-frills patisserie where you order and pay at the counter. It’s constantly busy with tables filling up inside and out as quick as you can blink. I get the impression there’s a loyal local following who pop in for coffee and cake in the mornings,  and there’s a table of older men sipping coffee and speaking Italian, who look like they are part of the furniture. The lady serving us is a delight, and we end up having a chin wag during the quieter moments, about life and the weather in Singapore where she tells us she hails from. Sometimes finding a good wait person really makes the occasion for me; I just love it when wait staff show enthusiasm for their products, and take the time to engage and connect with customers.

If I didn’t live in Dianella and if I didn’t have access to good coffee and cake nearby, I’d be tempted to venture to D & S more often. I hear they have a counterpart in Morley, so I might have to mosey on over there and check it out for myself. Purely for research purposes of course 🙂

Dolce & Salato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Koko Black, Claremont

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Two things to love about Claremont = Brooklyn’s Friday night oyster night, followed by Koko Black for post-oyster dessert and coffee. What better combo could you find within a few minutes walk of each other?

Claremont’s KB is a notch above the CBD outlet in my book. Aesthetically more pleasing and more relaxed, it’s also easier to access. For a Friday night sweet treat, it’s my Nirvana.

We ordered some cakes to share – and realised after demolishing two that we’d been too greedy and couldn’t possibly eat the third one. We asked the wait staff if we could “return” the third – untouched of course. Sometimes those old eyes are just bigger than the old belly, and just maybe a couple of dozen oysters and a few glasses of prosecco earlier had a role to play.

Our tiered mousse cake was delicious, but the chocolate bread with butter wasn’t worth the effort. Seriously, if you’re going to a chocolate specialty shop, why the heck would you waste your time with chocolate bread? Rookie mistake; won’t happen again 🙂

Naturally we shopped for gourmet chocolates to take home, and they were as good as they look in the photos. Yum. Whoever said that chocolate can’t make the world go around, obviously never developed any taste buds. I truly hope that Koko Black manages to stay afloat despite their epic financial woes, as where else will we go to slurp decadent hot chocolate and indulge in a range of amazing chocolate treats?  All the more reason to GO NOW. AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.

Koko Black Claremont Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bites by D

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A dedicated dessert cafe – and close to home – could be a recipe for Blimpville, but being a dedicated foodie I just had to try it and see what the fuss was about. Nothing wrong with having cake at 10am. Is there?

With my sweet-tooth son AB in tow – doesn’t take much to persuade him to eat cake – we dropped into this delightful venue in Mount Hawthorn a few days ago to check out their wares. This light and bright cafe is punctuated with bright yellow and white furnishings and sparkly chandeliers, and a smallish counter displays the goods on offer.  Macarons, cupcakes, tarts, cake popsicles, dome cakes and small tiered sponges beckon invitingly under glass.

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AB rained on my parade by selecting the Toffee Crunch Eclair, which left me in a dilemma as to what I would now choose. Dang! Don’t you hate it when someone beats you to the punch? And you can’t possibly both have the same thing; it’s an unwritten rule that you must make different choices. A minor panic for the next five minutes as I deliberated over the array of sweet things – Imagine if you will, a recreation of the scene in the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine rests on the counter in the Soup Nazi’s shop trying to decide on a soup, invoking his wrath and being expelled from the shop sans soup. Well fortunately the bubbly Irish girl serving us in Bites by D wasn’t wrathful and I wasn’t expelled from the cafe. I wasn’t half as annoying as Elaine either, even though I may have hogged the counter and I may have taken a while to decide. Some things just can’t be rushed.

I settled on a Ferrero Rocher chocolate cupcake, even though I rarely order cupcakes and am often regretful when I do. It was a decadently rich concoction that was perhaps a bit much for my stomach that early in the morning, and I gazed so longingly at AB’s eclair that he offered to go halves with me. Being the good mum I am, I insisted that a taste would do, and that we should stick with our own choices. The eclair ticked all the boxes; creamy filling, light choux pastry, sticky toffee and crunchy nuts. Yummo.

My long mac was well made with house blend Dark Horse beans, albeit served in a tiny glass that seems to be the norm these days. AB’s hot chocolate was served on a plank with separate jugs of hazelnut couverture chocolate and hot milk, with banana marshmallows to finish it off. He was a happy chappy.

Bites by D showcases an impressive cake menu that changes by the day. As cakes are made during the day they are brought out to the display counter, so you could find different goodies in the afternoon than you would in the morning. There are a few savoury options like quiche and muffins that will satisfy the dessert nay-sayers. It’s a delightful venue for the days when you stop kidding yourself that you should be sensible and eat a sandwich, and decide you’re going to have your cake and eat it too.


Bites By D Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Globe Coffee House Restaurant & Patisserie

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This Globe bears no resemblance to London’s thespian counterpart, but it does actually look sneakily similar to the decor in the Dome cafes. Coincidence? Who knows, but a friend of mine who’s lived in South Perth  for many years insists there’s a story to be told.

This Globe on the popular Angelo St strip in South Perth is a busy lunch time venue, and I’ve grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat here many times. Globe’s cakes are popular because they offer both normal and mini sizes, which of course simply encourages greedy folks like me to try more than one. Don’t leave your cake eating till evening though, as the best ones have usually sold by mid-afternoon.

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On this occasion via Dimmi, an offer of 50% off the food bill tempted our group of six to book in for dinner at The Globe. Along with glasses of wine for $6.50 (for an acceptable South Australian SBS or Cabernet Merlot), the offer was too good to pass up.

The specials of the day were grilled king snapper with roasted root vegetables, and chicken vindaloo. Call me crazy, but I would never ever ever order an Indian curry at a restaurant serving modern Australian cuisine. No sirree. I love chicken vindaloo and The Globe may have created a brilliant version, but I will never know.

Our resident carnivore Jai ordered the Scotch fillet steak with fries, mushrooms and vegetables. As is evident from the pic below, the presentation was rustic but Jai was content with her tender piece of meat – cooked medium as requested – and its sidekicks.

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The consensus among the three of us who ordered the daily special of grilled king snapper, was that it was a reasonable but unremarkable piece of fish. Kept simple and served with a few pan fried prawns and steamed asparagus, it wasn’t Michelin Star material but for $16, was adequate. You know the old saying, “you get what you pay for”?  Most of the time, it’s true.

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Frau K’s choice of the pork belly slow cooked in pear cider, and served with Pink Lady apples, Asian style vegetables, and fried rice noodles, was an interesting concoction featuring pork crackling as well as pork belly. Hmm, double the fat and double the fun. Frau K was happy with her dish and its unusual combination of flavours, though it was overly rich and she could only manage half of it.

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We had to check out the cakes on offer, though I’ve sampled these several times and found them to be perfect with a coffee in the afternoon. Between us we shared lemon tarts with cute smiley faces, and hazelnut cream layered cakes.

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The service at Globe was friendly and efficient, and the wait time for food wasn’t long. I prefer to dine here for lunch, rather than dinner though, as the lunch time sandwiches, crusty rolls, and quiches and pies served with salads, are reliably good. We could hardly complain about dinner at the prices we paid, and it’s adequate for those who are happy with simple food. Although we didn’t find Globe’s cuisine to be innovative or anything special, it has won awards for its baking and for being Cafe of the Year in 2014.  I  find that surprising given the number of cafes in Perth serving better much quality food overall,  but the award may have been influenced by Globe’s patisserie offerings, rather than its other food.

Globe Coffee House Restaurant & Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Margaret River Bakery

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The Prof and I discovered the bakery across the road from our accommodation in Margaret River, and decided we would breakfast here before the long drive back to Perth. It was such a dilemma trying to fit in some amazing food places in such a short space of time!

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The bakery has a charming and eclectic collection of mismatched arm chairs, tables, lampshades and vintage china, and is crammed full of people who come for the deliriously good food. There’s a constant stream of people at the counter ordering takeaway coffees, almond croissants (I got one for the road of course) hot house made pies, salted caramel doughnuts and pastries.

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Mad mushy fan-girl that I am, I had to have the mushroom special for breakfast. Two ENORMOUS slices of sourdough were topped with a generous serve of mashed avocado sprinkled with sunflower and sesame seeds, alongside a dish of oven baked mixed mushrooms with baby spinach and shaved parmesan. And big. I very reluctantly had to leave my 2nd slice of avo on toast. The photo doesn’t really show how big this dish was.

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The Prof’s eyes glazed over when she clapped eyes on her pancakes with banana and salted caramel sauce. This was another giant serve with plenty of sticky sauce and fluffy pancakes, and she managed to polish off the lot. Well, look at that plate – why wouldn’t you?

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This place will ALWAYS be on my list when I visit Margaret River. I wanted to buy one of everything in the cake cabinet, not to mention a hot chicken pie and a Mediterranean vegetable tart. The constant stream of people is testament to the food made and served here. Just go there and indulge, and while you’re there, check out the funky Frieda Kahlo pics near the toilet. This crazy mish-mash of everything works brilliantly.

PS. You do need to take cash with you, and plan not to visit on Sunday (they’re closed).

Click to add a blog post for Margaret River Bakery on Zomato

Chocolateria San Churro East Vic Park

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Couverture mocha

Not all franchises are created equal, and this especially holds true for Chocolateria San Churro. I’ve tried the branches in Northbridge, Leederville, Hillarys and East Vic Park, and the difference in quality is discernible. This review of the East Vic Park franchise is the result of two visits with my son AB. This is closest to his home in Kensington, and is where he goes when he needs a cheap chocolate fix. He says he can feel confident that his favourite dish of the warm brownie with a side dish of milk chocolate sauce, is consistently good. Sadly the same cannot be said for all of their products.

Now generally if I’m ordering a hot chocolate or mocha, I don’t order dessert as it’s all a bit too much. The hot chocolates are so rich that it’s pointless ordering a side of cake or chocolate-something-or-other to go with it. However, I was tempted by a truffle on my first visit, and ordered one of the salted caramel variety. It was smooth, salty, caramelly, and really very good. Combined with my couverture mocha, I was well satisfied.

Salted caramel truffle
Salted caramel truffle

AB of course ordered his standard warm brownie with chocolate sauce on the side. Now I have tried this dish and can vouch for its yummy factor.

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Warm brownie with milk chocolate sauce

On my second visit to the EVP branch a few weeks ago, I thought I’d try the Madrid  mocha. Hmmmm. Passable but not a patch on the couverture variety.

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Madrid mocha – not a patch on the couverture mocha

Now when we visited the second time, it was around midday and I felt like a little something to eat. Wasn’t fussed about eating chocolate as it was a bit early for me, whereas AB can eat chocolate or dessert at any time of night or day. His stomach doesn’t discriminate.

Now there isn’t much of a choice apart from chocolate at this place. You either eat chocolate or you don’t eat. Other than the cinnamon breakfast  churro which is available until midday.  Apparently we were about 10 minutes too late to get this breakfast churro, so this left me with only one other option.
“I’m going to order the churros” I told AB. He sighed and shook his head.
“Ma, you’re going to be disappointed”, he said gravely. “They’re never nice; whenever I’ve tried them they’re always dry”.
Well I’d had them in Northbridge and they were soft and hot and sugary and pretty yummy really, so I thought they would have to be the same here, right?

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Oh no. That notion was quickly dispelled. Lukewarm, overcooked and as dry as a cow dung baked in the sun. AB just couldn’t resist saying “I told you so”.  If I had to guess, I’d say these had been cooked beforehand and thrown in the fryer again to warm them through. Just look at those sad, thin, dehydrated sticks. Where was that spongey, soft, fluffy interior coated in a hot, crispy, sugary skin? Apparently it had died and been cremated.

Look, for the most part this franchise gets its formulas right. The drinks and chocolates are generally top notch. It’s the sort of place where families and kids love to come and get their fill of chocolately goodness, and their take home packs of hot chocolate mix are a big hit with my sons.

Am I being picky because I expect their namesake dish to be just right? I don’t think so. If the staff at the Northbridge store can get it right, then the staff at the other branches should be able to too. A store devoted to all forms of chocolate is a winner, but you have to pay attention to the details.

It’s not tricky – just DO NOT OVERCOOK THE CHURROS.  That is all.

Chocolateria San Churro on Urbanspoon

Peninsula Tea Gardens

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I could wax lyrical about the setting of the Peninsula Tea Gardens, riverside in Maylands and next door to Tranby House. Sadly I can’t do the same about the fare on offer, but that’s not why I visited. I had a few hours to spare on a pleasant mid-week afternoon, and thought a spot of afternoon tea would be just the ticket. As soon as I spied the massive oak trees, white umbrellas and wicker furniture against the backdrop of the Swan River, I was sold.

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The scathing reviews of this delightful venue all relate to the food on offer, but I was hopeful of a different experience. I can say that my long macchiato was pretty darn good which is no small thing for a coffee lover.

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There is a menu of lunch items, and a ubiquitous cake counter featuring a bevy of try-hard cafe cakes of the kind that often fail to live up to their glossy appearances.

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Against my inner voice exhorting me not to choose one of the said cafe cakes, I threw caution to the wind and ordered this grand looking carrot cake. Well I hadn’t eaten lunch and I had to have something to go with my long mac, and the icing did look creamy and luscious.

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Well, I should have heeded my inner voice. Carrot cake, albeit with glorious cream cheese frosting, you were in a word, awful. Stodgy and uninspiring and I couldn’t get past a few mouthfuls. An ill-spent $6.95.

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High tea is a drawcard here, and there were a few tables featuring the tiered plates for $33 pp during the week and $38 pp on the weekend. As far as peaceful, scenic cafes go, Peninsula is right at the top of the list. It seems however, that there are valid reasons why it has such a poor rating on Urbanspoon, and it’s a shame that the owners haven’t taken the negative comments on board over the years and tried to improve the service and food on offer.

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I would happily return here to sit with a book for an hour or so on a sunny afternoon to just enjoy the beautiful setting. I would forego the food and order a coffee or one of the pots of quality teas on offer. Come and enjoy the experience, and as long as you don’t have any expectations about the food, you won’t be disappointed. You could combine your visit with a tour of the heritage-listed Tranby House, and learn a little of our local history at the same time.

Peninsula Tea Gardens on Urbanspoon

Brunetti’s in Lygon St

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An Italian cafe reminiscent of the self-serve cafeteria at Roma’s Termini station. That’s what Brunetti’s said to me. In only six days in the artsy city, I graced this landmark cafe three times. To be fair, on the last occasion I was meeting a Melbourne friend for coffee and it was an easy place to find. Familiarity and all that.

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On the first occasion Prince and I were doing the Lygon St limbo in search of a lunch spot, when we spied this massive emporium with a bewitching cake counter. We can’t eat cake before lunch, can we? Can we? No, we should eat lunch first. Besides, how good do these pizzas look?

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Porcini pizza. Now that was irresistible. Porcinis have been one of my favourite foods since a trip to Italy in 2006 when I ate my way through plates and plates of fresh porcinis. No other mushroom comes close to these tasty heights. I bring back giant bags of the dried variety home when I go to Europe, so seeing the fresh version on a pizza made this ole heart soar. Oh my. Just look at those mushrooms with fresh rosemary and a generous melty mozzarella and pecorino topping. It was porcini heaven. I do not lie.

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HRH went for the salami and pesto pizza and scoffed a piece of mine to boot. Now Prince is a tiny fellow but he can put away some hefty plates of food. I look at a plate and gain a kilo. Where’s the justice in that?

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You order your food and drinks at the counters, and collect your drinks at the circle station in the middle of the cafe. This station just keeps churning out coffees and drinks all day long.

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Prince and I were too stuffed to appreciate dessert after that carb overload, so we returned to Brunetti’s the next day for afternoon tea.

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Fortunately this cafe offers small cakes for $2.50 so this means you get to try more. In my case this was two, but of course my royal friend managed to scoff down three cakes.

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And a pannacotta.

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The New York cheesecake and lemon tart were hits with Prince but he wasn’t thrilled with the chocolate cannoli.  His pannacotta was pedestrian.  My NY cheesecake was delicious and the perfect size for such a rich dessert. My second choice, a salted caramel mini eclair, had not a whiff of salted caramel flavour, and I was disappointed at having wasted a dessert opportunity on something mediocre.

This place is open from breakfast right through to late dinner. It’s a massive industrial-type space, with tables inside and spilling out into the arcade next door and onto the front pavement. There’s a constant bustle of activity, and although it all seems quite formulaic, it’s worth a visit for a cake and coffee, if nothing else. But I really do recommend the porcini pizza. Buonissimo.

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Journal Canteen

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Strolling along Flinders Land in the Melbourne CBD, Prince and I were hanging out for some afternoon refreshments. When the bookish Journal Canteen appeared in our sights it was a done deal.

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This is a popular cafe amongst the denizens of this great city. Situated at the front of the City Library, it has a dark, journo-type feel to it. Books and papers and literary types et al.

Gagging for my long overdue second caffeine hit for the day, I opted for my usual long macchiato. These have been hit and miss for me in Melbourne. I’ve been served black coffee with a mere smidgeon of milk, black coffee with a pot of frothy milk on the side, black coffee with a pot of hot water and no milk, and various shades of macchiato ranging from super strong to just strong. Obviously Melburnians like their coffee bold. The coffee at Journal Canteen however, was as Golidlocks would say, just right.

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Prince’s choice of chai latte was handsomely presented. Although it looked impressive, the tea was weak and lacking in flavour. Not gutsy enough for our royal boy.

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It was slim pickings at the sweets counter by 3pm. A choice between a Portugese egg tart or a massive croissant wasn’t difficult.
Although feeling a tad skeptical about the colour of the egg tart, we halved it and hoped for the best.

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Hmmm. When you naturally expect a Portugese egg tart to be a sunny yellow colour and it is a lighter shade of caramel, odds are that the taste won’t be quite what you are used to. Indeed. The taste was super sweet and un-eggy. Well, you never know if you never try as they say. It did give us a sugar boost and revived us enough to continue our city stroll for a while longer.
This popular cafe was perfectly acceptable for a quick afternoon break. Whether it reaches greater heights with its lunches and dinners, I’ll leave for the locals to decide.

Journal Canteen on Urbanspoon

Sugar and Nice

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I’d visited Sugar and Nice shortly after it opened last year, but paid a return visit last week after reading reviews about the amazing cakes and cronuts on offer.

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The display counter with its beguiling array of slices, cup cakes, blondies and brownies, was a temptation I could not resist.

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Dazzled as I was by the apple crumble cakes and the coffee salted caramel slice, my resolve wasn’t moved. I’d come for the cronut, and when I saw it in all its peanuty jammy gooey glory, I knew I wanted no other.

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This cronut was a glorious crispy, layered, sugary circle like nothing I had tasted before. Heaven is a cronut.

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My long macchiato was also very very good. Robust and flavourful without a hint of bitterness. Engaged as I was in cronut mania, I forgot to ask about the coffee beans.

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Now the white chocolate blondie below was a little something I sampled on my return visit. The next day. Because this little cake joint is seriously good.

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Son AB was visiting today and wanted to sample some cronut for himself. This nutella-topped version with its frosty pink filling was also delicious, but to me it didn’t quite match the heights of the peanut jam version.

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Guess I’ll just have to keep on sampling the different fillings on offer to find the perfect one.

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Sugar and Nice also sells a small range of gifts and decorator items. It’s a beautifully themed shop with limited seating, so it’s never too crowded and the noise level is always low. The perfect environment for a spot of cake in the afternoon.

Sugar & Nice on Urbanspoon

Maddison Cottage

maddison high tea 2-1

On a lazy Sunday afternoon I joined a group of friends at Maddison Cottage for the high tea experience.  The cottage is a cafe and a shop, so while you dine you are surrounded by all manner of floral and shabby chic  homewares and knick-knacks. It’s a girls’ place really; though a few men braved the frills and frippery, they didn’t look super comfy. A gaggle of chatty women on a Sunday afternoon in a confined space can give a guy a headache, so I’ve been told, though I can’t imagine why. There is also an alfresco area in the front courtyard where you can dine amid the greenery and umbrellas and gaze out on the James St passers-by. The blokes out here looked a lot more at ease than their counterparts inside.

The thing I really love about this place is the choice of quality loose leaf T2 teas on offer. I’ve been to places that charge far more for high tea, and then have the gall to serve you a standard English Breakfast teabag in a thick mug. Definitely a no-no when it comes to high tea. Everyone knows that ladies love sipping beautiful tea from delicate china cups, and Maddison’s really delivers on this score. I chose the Gorgeous Geisha; green tea flavoured with strawberries and cream. Just delightful.  The teas are served in floral teapots and the water in crystal glass decanters; the cups, plates and tableware are a glorious mismatch of china, glass and silver that add to the charm.

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The tiered plates held little morsels of sweet and savoury delights. I started with the sandwiches of course; one should never go straight for the sweet treats. It’s an unwritten rule, right? So the fresh, moist sandwiches of cucumber, egg and chicken were eagerly consumed along with the tiny vegetarian quiches, before we tackled the main event.

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All of the goodies on offer are home made, and the proof is in the eating. If a high tea is a bit much for you, try a devonshire tea or just pop in for a coffee and a cake. Their carrot cake and cinnamon buns looked amazing, so I’m eagerly anticipating a return trip to sample a few other delights that don’t appear on the high tea menu.

If you fancy some champagne with your high tea experience, you can BYO bottle for $2 pp corkage. Otherwise just enjoy the full range of teas or some Yahava coffee. Excellent value for $32 pp on weekdays, and $34 pp on weekends.

Maddison Cottage on Urbanspoon