Thursday, 24 October 2013

Port Fairy: Clonmara Tearoom

When I wrote about our holiday in Port Fairy last month, I was a bit "meh" about the food we ate in cafes.  Of course it wasn't all bad.  We fell in love with the Clonmara Tearoom.  The food was lovely, the service friendly and the building welcoming.  It was so good that after a delicious breakfast we returned for lunch the next day and were prepared to wait for half an hour.

We arrived at the charming 1860s cottage as the husband and wife team who run the Clonmara Tearoom were setting up for the morning (around 10am).  We whiled away time in the giftshop until the tearoom was ready.  The giftshop was small but full of really nice stuff.
 
Once a table was ready, we sat by the window and perused the menu.  I had bought crayons and paper for Sylvia when in the town.  It wasn't necessary here.  The lady of the house (Mrs Clonmara) produced a selection of colouring books and crayons to keep Sylvia amused and generously gave her the page to take away.  Meanwhile E spent some time talking to their cat.

Sylvia chose a scone and orange juice.  The scone was amazingly light and fluffy.  Mrs Clonmara chose a pink straw for the juice.  E and I each had a pot of tea.  The tea menu was extensive with some interesting herbal choices and the pots had loose leaf tea.  Each pot came with a large smartie.  Sylvia was so excited when she was given one of her own.  I liked the attention to little details. 

E was very excited to be able to order a full Scottish breakfast with lorne sausage, bacon and black pudding, egg and a potato scone.  There was no vegetarian breakfast on the menu but I found that I was able to put together a very decent one from extras.  I had a potato scone, grilled tomatoes, hash browns and home made baked beans.  It was a very generous plateful and everything was cooked well.  The yardstick for me was the tomatoes which are often grilled on top and cold underneath in cafes.  They were beautifully cooked all the way through.

We later talked to Mr Clonmara who cooks the food.  He is from Glasgow and was happy to talk about variations in potato scones.  I made potato scones at home that are like unleavened bread and imitate those we would buy in Edinburgh.  The Clonmara potato scones were more like a fritter of roughly mashed potato held together with a little flour.  The whole menu reflected his Scottish heritage and E was really pleased to have food he usually can't find outside Scotland.

I was only able to take a quiet photo of the tearoom because we arrived so early.  It was well patronised on both visits.  In fact on the second visit the indoors room was full.  It was too wet to sit outside at the garden tables.  We were told a table would be available in 30 minutes.  E was reluctant but I thought it worth the wait.  We drove to the city for a quick purchase of toothpaste and were back before we knew it.

While my vegtarian options weren't huge, they were well marked and very welcome in a country town.  (There were also a reasonable amount gluten free meals and cakes marked on the menu.)  I was tossing up between the macaroni cheese and the ploughman's lunch but I really wanted the Welsh Rarebit.  Once I found it wasn't marked as vegetarian because there were anchovies in the Worcestershire sauce, I was happy to order it.  (While I have vegetarian Worcestershire sauce at home and strive to find vegetarian food, I do make occasional small concessions.)

There is nothing like a warming rich cheese on toast on a cold wet day.  If I were to quibble I would prefer a dense sourdough to an English muffin.  More important was the bitey intense cheese sauce, hot crisp chips and the lovely salad of leaves, beetroot and feta.  E also enjoyed his haggis with chips and mushy peas and Sylvia loved her chunky chips.

I was enjoying the Clonmara food so much that I had to have dessert.  A decent holiday should include at least one good dessert.  We chose two desserts for the three of us to share.  A sticky toffee pudding and an apple pie.  Sylvia was not very interested in either, with the exception of some pastry, but E and I were happy to pick up the slack.  The pie was wonderful and fruity with the toffee sauce.  The pudding was lovely, soft, sweet, sticky.  We were very full.

Feeling very satisfied, we were out to our car where we discovered that we had foolishly left on the headlights and the battery was flat.  (You would think we would have learned on our last trip to Port Fairy.)  We rang the RACV for roadside assistance.  They couldn't reach the local mechanic on the phone but told us it shouldn't be too long.

We trooped back into the tearooms to ask to sit and wait there.  Mr and Mrs Clonmara welcomed us back.  They even gave the mechanic a call to check he was there.  They were the sort of people that when I asked about the Port Fairy community market, they not only looked it up, but suggested another option if the weather was really bad.  Fortunately our car was still on the road.

If you are down Port Fairy way, I would highly recommend the Clonmara Tearoom.  (They also have accommodation which I would love to try.)  We didn't discover it on our last trip because it is on the highway and not among the central shops and cafes.  It was a relaxing and welcoming place to stop for a meal and a chat.  We left from both visits feeling well fed and only needing a light evening meal.  I look forward to returning there on our next visit.

Clonmara Tearoom
106 Princes Highway
Port Fairy, VIC 3284
03 5568 2595
www.clonmara.com.au/tearoom.htm

Clonmara Tea Rooms on Urbanspoon

21 comments:

  1. This place looks lovely! I haven't been to Port Fairy in years, I think it's about time for a holiday now. I just love the small town feel of lovely places like this down the coast... makes me want to move, but then I spend a day going to galleries and grabbing a bite out in the city and remember why I love it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Claire - I am very attached to living in a city too but when you have a relaxing time in the country it seems like a great idea to decentralise.

      Delete
  2. I actually think I have been here! Only to have a cup of tea and scone though. Port Fairy was such a lovely little town from memory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Reanna - it is a great spot for a relaxing afternoon tea

      Delete
  3. This place sounds lovely - I too like attention to detail and friendly service is always welcome. Your desserts look like proper country desserts and I like that you make exceptions on occasion for things like Worcestershire sauce; flexibility makes life so much easier and I share your stance that occasional exceptions are worthwhile :-) Sorry about your car headlights but it sounds like if it had to happen, it was a good spot for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kari - hearty pies and puddings are the stuff of country dessert. I could have had one of the other main courses but I had thought we might have pasta for dinner and the salad seemed too cold for the day so it suited me to be a bit flexible with the Worcestershire sauce.

      Delete
  4. I like places with character, and how lovely for E to stumble across a place that offered food from his home. I give it a star too for the welcome, not many places have that you walk in and people glare at you. I understand why you made an exception, when I went to Brittany a few years ago we were staying with Ds friends, I could not be rude and turn my nose at one of the meals the the hostess had taken hours to prepare contained fish, and gratefully ate what i was given, fortunately most of the other meal were vegetarian . By the way, as you know i live in the land of Welsh Rarebit, and nowhere locally here does a vegetarian version - they charge loads for it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shaheen - me too - if I can find a place with character on holiday I feel it has been a success - I think if people are friendly and the woman was quite upfront about the Worcestershire sauce having anchovies, it makes it easy to be flexible - it is when you feel you have been treated with disdain and not told about what is in a meal that I get annoyed. I don't know if I could eat a fish dinner but I did eat a beef stew while travelling once (as I have written about elsewhere) because it seemed only right to put people first. I had never thought how hard it must be to find a truly veg welsh rarebit - I make it occasionally at home and buy veg Worcestershire sauce for it.

      Delete
  5. The cottage looks so lovely! A place that is populated by lovely plush animals is definitely one I'd return to! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kath - there were lots of really cute plush animals around us and E was very taken by the cat

      Delete
  6. I'm so glad you got good food SOMEWHERE. Everything looks so good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Joanne - you wouldn't be too surprised to hear how much better this good food made me feel about my holiday :-)

      Delete
  7. That looks like one enormous scone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Yummy C - it was rather large - one was quite enough for Sylvia

      Delete
  8. What an adorable cottage, I love cozy places like this especially with a nice gift shop! Hash browns, potato scone, grilled tomatoes & baked beans? Sounds like an amazing brekkie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rika - a gift shop is always a little bonus in a cafe and yes the breakfast was superb (j have had enough very ordinary ones)

      Delete
  9. The tearoom looks so quaint! Your veggie breakfast looks pretty good to me, as does Sylvia's fluffy scone.
    I'm curious about the potato scones, are they like Irish potato farls? Because I LOVE those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Emma - the potato scones that I make are like farls but the ones here weren't. I love the ones like farms too. I was sad they weren't the potato scones I love but I did enjoy the ones at the tearoom

      Delete
  10. Even though it's still two months until it's technically winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, we already had snow yesterday, so you better believe I love the sound of these hearty, warming, cheesy meals and that pudding!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Hannah - I think it would be really hard to holiday in a snowy Canadian winter - in fact though I love to go to Scotland in winter before christmas, it does make me wary about getting out and about as much as I would like to. But I think that weather is why the Scots are so good at cosy pubs - Australia is better at pubs with doors to open wide in balmy summer evenings.

      Delete
  11. The people running the tearoom sound very lovely. What a shame about the car incident but at least you could wait in the tearoom. I do love the look of those scones! xx

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you. Please feel welcome to share your feedback and questions. I have started using word verification recently to combat an avalanche of spam. Apologies for the hassle of reading the mysterious captcha code (refresh to find an easy one).