The website of Cafe Bursaria has the tagline ‘South Yarra’s best kept secret’.

You know what, I think for once that kind of puffery is true. I lived in South Yarra for four years, within cooee of Como House, and I’d never heard of, let alone stepped inside, Cafe Bursaria.

Which is a shame because it’s a really nice French provincial themed haven set in beautiful surroundings. It’s located in a large whitewashed building within the grounds of National Trust’s Como House and offers brunch, lunch and afternoon tea made with seasonal ingredients by Bursaria Fine Foods, an events catering company.

On a rainy weekday morning we were the only people in the cafe so we took over one of two large wooden communal tables decorated with fresh yellow roses, presumably from the garden.

The menu was fairly basic – soups, quiches, sandwiches, cakes – and most of it was pre-prepared and laid out in the refrigerated glass cabinet. If you’re a fusspot like me you may want to consider asking when the cakes were made before you order, as I don’t think that early in the morning there should only remain a half a cake or three friands if they’d been baked that day.

On the other hand, I figured a good museum cafe should be able to serve a decent Devonshire tea so I decided to try their definitely freshly baked scones ($7.50) along with a chai latte ($4.50).

The scones were large and light, with a crusty exterior (which is a matter of personal preference, some people don’t like the crunch) and soft airy interior. It was served with some good quality full-of-fruit raspberry jam (so good I asked for more), double cream and butter for those who like to go a little off-piste with their scone-eating traditions.

On the negative side the chai latte was a disappointment – thin, watery and not in any way evocative of cinnamon and spice other than the blobs of nutmeg floating in the lukewarm frothed milk. To be honest, some of the worst chai I’ve had.

Also, the service was non-existent – the woman behind the counter was rather stony-faced and unsmiling and our dirty dishes were left on the table until we asked them to be removed. You have to help yourself to water but given that we were the only people around and had our hands full with babies and toddlers I would have appreciated it if the crabby counter lady had offered to pour some water for us.

However, overall I’d give the experience a HOT. The scones were surprisingly good, the location and ambience were particularly pleasant and best of all if you drop into the cafe you can stroll around the beautifully landscaped gardens and enter the historic mansion Como House without having to pay an entry fee.

Apparently their passionfruit sponge cake is award-winning, so that will be my option for the next visit.

Cafe Bursaria, Como House, cnr Lechlade Ave and Williams Rd, South Yarra

Open winter months Wednesday to Sunday 10.00 am – 4.00 pm.
Bursaria Fine Foods on Urbanspoon