Food, fitness and health enthusiast. Aspiring writer and health practitioner.
Published March 29th 2013
It's hard to find a good cuppa when at sea
Should you be visiting Aireys Inlet for the first time, chances are you will take a stroll to the Split Point Lighthouse, known for its role in "Around the Twist". Barely down the road you will find Willows Tea House.
It is a very endearing and relaxed cafe; a white cottage with colourful flags along the veranda, wooden tables and chairs scattered about the outdoor area. That, and its proximity to the lighthouse, is really the only reasons to go there unless you are interested in buying any of the kitsch crockery, souvenirs, tea or locally-made items.
As soon as you walk inside you're standing at the counter, surrounded by shelves and bric-a-brac. While some would call this homely and cosy, it could also be described as cluttered and disorganised. After reiterating our order a few times, we asked for water and were directed to a dispenser behind us, crammed between the rows of tea and the doorway, to find no glasses. The glasses were replaced at our request, but there was only enough water in the tank for one.
At our table there were dirty plates and cups from the people before us. We set them to the side, expecting that when the waitress brought our food she would take them away. She came once, twice, thrice, and finally for the fourth time, delivered our last dish and walked away without a word, or even the excuse of being in a rush. It wasn't what you would call busy, but still our food came one at a time, the plates remained, and staff meandered about.
The food (milkshakes, tea, pies, wraps, slices and biscuits) was good. Not excellent, not what you would hope from a cafe such a prime location, but homely and generous if you ordered the right thing. Their black bean burrito was average, easily something you could make at home, accompanied by a salad of lettuce chucked on the plate with some quartered tomatoes. An extra $4 to add that salad to the asparagus quiche really wasn't worth it. The coffee was discouraging. And finally, the scones were very tall but doughier than you would like, especially for a place that advertises their "Devonshire tea".
In short, location is excellent, atmosphere is relaxed, the food is basic, the prices are reasonable given the tourism, and the service is lacking.
If you are after an afternoon by the beach, you might do better to pack your own and sit on the sand - just as relaxed, just as tasty, but with a sea breeze and no one else's child crying behind you.
Alternatively, S Lynn has written a more praising review of Willows Tea House which you can view by clicking here
Such a disappointment, this spot has so much potential for a thriving cafe !
Don't despair - Aireys does have a cafe which ticks all the boxes - great food coffee and setting - down beside the river. Give yourself a bit of time after delicious, seriously good food, cake and coffee and an explore along the river
there is one of the best book stores around just next door.
So to get there - sorry I can't remember the name - but it is on the right hand side of the highway at the bottom of Aireys driving toward Lorne. The last in the little block of shops as you are about to leave town. Worth looking for.
regards, Linda C