Despite its relatively low urbanspoon rating, I just had to give the reknowned Miss Marple’s a go for its Devonshire tea. This ‘old-fashioned tearoom’ situated in the Dandenongs, 50km east of Melbourne, does not take bookings, so we made sure to arrive early. We turned up at 11.30, half an hour after they opened, and had our names taken down on the waiting list.
When we were seated some 45 minutes later I was immediately struck by the cheap feel exuded by everything around me. The chunky, standard issue crockery brought me straight back to my university days when I lived in a residential college. It was all rather beaten up too: scratches, cracks, blemishes and discolouration were everywhere.
I’ve always had a pet hate for sugar in packets. Can you name a good cafe that has them? Yeah, that’s what I thought. A place that calls itself a ‘tea room’ should really have sugar bowls.
Ok, so perhaps I’ve been a little nitpicky. All of the above would probably be excusable if they could back themselves up with good food. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Cottage pie, beef ($14.50)
We recognised the mash as instant straight away, with that unmistakeable floury fake taste. Its flavour was about as similar to real potato as banana lollies to real bananas. I don’t understand why it was there. Flashing back to my college days again, mash was a staple of basically every dinner. Its frequency was enough to suggest that even when made from real potatoes on a commercial scale, mash is not expensive.
Otherwise, the filling was slightly salty but otherwise tasteless. Not particularly inspiring.
Welsh rarebit fingers ($13)
Cheesy bread. Normally I would consider this to be a good thing, however in this case neither the cheese nor the bread were of spectacular quality. The cheese was that boring, misleadingly named ‘tasty’ variety. None of the mature English cheddar, Guiness, eggs, mustard or spices, as indicated on the menu, were apparent at all. I just got done $13 for cheese on toast. Dang!
‘Devonshire scones’ ($9)
Note the use of the term ‘Devonshire scones': no tea included (that was an extra $3.95 each). Upon seeing the menu I’d already thought that $9 just for two scones was rather steep, let alone once I’d tasted them and realised how terrible they were.
The ‘scones’ had clearly been made in a giant slab and cut up, which meant that they lacked that wonderful crusty exterior of a good scone. They also had a weird cakey texture: it was like buttercake with not nearly enough sugar. The accompanying cream was plain old whipped. I would comment on the flavour of the jam, however I couldn’t really taste it as it was freezing cold.
I’d read a few reviews of Miss Marple’s which suggested that they do ‘slightly different scones to the norm’, which are cool ‘if you like them like that’, and so on. NO. NO ONE LIKES SCONES LIKE THAT. THAT IS NOT HOW SCONES ARE MADE. I know there are a few bloggers out there who are wary of writing critical reviews, and I can understand their reservations, however when a place is this bad you can’t just skirt around the issue.
One word: shortcuts.
It was very obvious that the owners had decided to bank on their reputation alone to keep them in business, while cutting back on food quality and professionalism. The thing that makes me sad is that it seems to be working for them. That waiting list just kept getting longer and longer.
So dear readers, I implore you: do not waste your hard-earned on Miss Marple’s. I am willing to bet that every other cafe on this strip of Mount Dandenong tourist road would have better food than this, simply because none of those places have enough of a reputation to get away with serving such shocking food.
Utterly disappointing.Miss Marple’s Tea Room 382 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road Sassafras