“I knew it was too good to be true!” One woman outside Lune Croissanterie’s new CBD shop grieves.
One day before opening, on the footpath outside, people who heard the news last week are already arriving. And they’re hungry. One group peers through the wide windows, as if into an aquarium tank, and laughs woefully as they read the sign on the door: “Open tomorrow 2/10.”
The final touches are going in. A pastry chef in whites is polishing the windows. Co-owner Cam Reid is puncturing “t-r-a-d-i-t-i-o-n-a-l” into the menu board. Co-owner, chef and Cam’s sister Kate Reid is brushing egg wash over a test batch of croissants.
Kate’s perfect pastries captured global attention in 2015 when her croissants were named the best in the world by Oliver Strand of the New York Times. The article, described them as “ethereal, exceptionally flaky pastries”, a “holy balance of buttery heft and feathery flake" that "may be the finest you will find anywhere in the world, and alone worth the trip across the dateline”. Unsurprisingly, this led to a giant leap in popularity for the already soaring pastry shop.
Now, six years after Lune’s first shop opened in Elwood, and three years after the operation moved to an expansive Fitzroy warehouse (complete with hour-long queues), the rocket has landed in the CBD – and the good news is that production is doubling.
“Before we moved to Fitzroy, Cam and I were shaping 24 batches of croissants a week,” says Kate, as she loads a tray of pastries into one of the ovens in the city shop. “Now in Fitzroy we’re shaping 240, and once we open here we’re going more to 450.” According to Kate, one batch equals around 40 to 45 croissants, which means Melburnians will have between 18,000 and 20,000 of those shatteringly crisp and buttery elastic beauties to snap up. Weekly.
With minimal equipment in the new space, all the raw production is done in Fitzroy’s temperature-controlled workspace (known as “the cube”), before being transferred to the city for baking.
“Trays and trays of pastries are going to have to come past the customers – it is kind of nice, everyone seeing the baby unproven croissants,” Kate says.
The small, low-ceilinged shop is two steps below street level, giving it a “bunker feel”, and is reminiscent of Lune HQ’s intensely theatrical design and layout where you can watch chefs roll dough by hand.
“We definitely drew from design elements from Fitzroy,” says Kate, pointing out the black-mirrored panels, florescent light tubes and dark concrete of the new shop. “[But] we specifically didn’t want to do the same as Fitzroy … I think something as complicated as that [in this space] would’ve looked too fussy.”
The part of the century-old T&G Building Lune CBD resides in was built in 1938. Before Lune, it was a takeaway Indian curry shop.
“The walls were covered in plaster and Laminex … but when we started pulling everything back it revealed these beautiful, very raw, concrete walls.”
There are no tables, just polished concrete benches to stand and linger over a pastry and a good coffee (venue manager Patrick Janowicz was a barista trainer at Coffee Supreme).
The menu is short and sweet – a condensed version of Fitzroy’s – with plain, chocolate, ham and Gruyere, and almond croissants, as well as lemon-curd cruffins. For Lune’s famed experimental flavours (spiced cauliflower, or macadamia frangipane with a salted-caramel seam), you’ll have to head north.
It still hasn’t quite sunk in for Kate that her croissants have hit – appropriately – the Paris end of Collins Street, with the Grand Hyatt across the road and Gucci next door.
“We’re both just blown away that we’ve actually got a site in the city. It’s been a bit of a hospitality dream,” she says. “When we started test baking last Thursday, a couple of the staff from the pasta bar next door went, ‘Oh my god, can you smell them?’ and then the manager came in and was like, ‘Everyone’s flipping out over there’.”
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm