My first impression stepping through the door, was of a relaxed and welcoming cafe, whose name was clearly emphasized by the display of black kettles in all shapes and sizes.
The timber ceiling and open stone fireplace created a country feel. Seating was spacious unlike the shoulder-to-shoulder in Melbourne and the mix of local families and visitors gave this place a friendly vibe.
Kids were offered paper and crayons to keep them occupied and give parents some welcomed breathing room. There was the choice of outdoor and indoor seating but we located a table for four by the window that gave us the best of both worlds.
The menu revealed an extensive and recognisable selection of English-inspired country fare which would appeal to the Aussie palate including brekkie items with scrambled eggs, baked beans and bacon, and pies using beef and chicken, salads and burgers for lunch and dinner. There were also soups, light snacks, sandwiches and Italian pastas and risottos.
We ended up with a hearty "home-cooked" selection of scrambled eggs, beef burgundy pie, an English ploughman's lunch and a strawberry milkshake.
We were not off to a "good" start. Service was polite but water was a long time coming and required a second reminder.
The strawberry milkshake was a disappointment. It tasted exactly like strawberry milk given a quick pulse in the blender. There was neither any light creaminess nor evidence of strawberry ice cream or strawberries used in making a proper milkshake. Fortunately the food that arrived returned us some confidence.
Thumbs up was given to the soft and fluffy scrambled eggs. We welcomed the well flavoured, chunky pieces of stewed beef in the burgundy pie. The salad that accompanied the pie was fresh and the crispy french fries diminished quickly from plate to mouth. I would have preferred a more direct "home-cooked" connotation of beef baked in short-crust pastry with peas and mash on the side, closer to those from Cully's Tea Room than this refined version typical of venues like Cricketers Bar in Hotel Windsor.
The star ingredient for me in the English ploughman's lunch was the chunky caramelised onion chutney. We were not fans of the wedge of cold pork pie but we enjoyed the sharp bite of the crumbly cheddar. With the addition of the ham, pork pie and Turkish bread, the meal was an Australian improvement (in terms of variety) to a traditional classic that's the most popular of pub lunches in the UK.
We thought long and hard about ordering dessert after a scan of the cake display but decided on the Parisian-inspired pastries of Cafe de Beaumarchais nearby.
Honestly, we didn't feel that the food was very "home-cooked" in the traditional, country fare sense. The dishes were well presented, tasty with fresh ingredients and flavours but delivered as a more refined cafe offering.
The Black Kettle Tearooms does offer fairly-priced, honest sized meals with good flavours in a relaxed country home-style setting that's worth a visit when you're next in Sassafras and looking for a bite. Kids are welcomed indoors and our four-legged friends can accompany outdoors.